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Religion as a cultural universal can be approached from many disciplines. This paper analyses the use of signs in the Lakota inipi (purification) rite from the perspective of semiotics of religion, applying basic semiotic concepts and theories. The semantic, syntactic and pragmatic approaches are based on a description of the Lakota Inipi rite as recorded in religious anthropological source. The detailed description of the rite in that text is the starting point for a semiotic analysis, for the identification of signs, and sign-acts, and for understanding the role this rite played in the life and religious tradition of the tribe. The aim of the analysis is to understand how the signs demonstrate religious doctrines and help contact with supernatural forces, and at the same time, how they express the group cohesion.

Keywords: semiotics of religion, semantics, syntax, pragmatics, Lakota rite, anthropology of religion

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