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The Black, The Red, and the White: Duality and Unity in the Luiseño Cosmos


Duality is apparent on every level, while the evidence for unifying principles becomes progressively more speculative as we move from color and direction symbolism through ritual to concepts of the soul. The fundamental dualism of the Luiseño system is common to much of the rest of southern California, and is doubtless derived from the greater Southwest. My purpose here is not to discuss origins, however, but the integration of duality and unity in Luiseño cosmology. Furthermore, limitations on space prohibit detailed discussion of ritual except for those aspects which demonstrate the theme of duality and unity; these are primarily elements of the boys' and girls' puberty ceremonies, particularly the ground-paintings and the wa:nawut—a net figure used in the boys' rites.

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