Royal edicts inscribed on copper plates were addressed to the villagers of Julah on the north coast of Bali; they date back to the 10th century. Since then, these artefacts have undergone many transformations in function and meaning. They were kept as sacred heirlooms in the village temple of Julah until recently. However, these copper plates were stolen by a man from a neighbouring village in 2002 and transported to Java in order to sell them as antiquities to the international black market of art. The villagers started an unprecedented search for these heirlooms and finally managed, assisted by the police, to recover these artefacts. This article describes and analyses the social life and the criminal turn of these copperplates, including the story of the thief.
Clifford Geertz and Shifts in Anthropological Paradigms
This article analyses Clifford Geertz’s shift from a social scientist who participated during the Cold War in policy-serving research on modernization in Indonesia to an anthropologist who focused on meaning and treated culture as an ensemble of texts to be read over the shoulder of the native. This shift becomes most evident in the different ways in which Geertz represented the social and political organization of the economy in Java and Bali in two of his major works. The results of these studies, though based on the same fieldwork data, are conflicting due to diverging theories and their epistemic design.
After the fall of the New Order regime in 1998 with its legally fixed discrimination of the Chinese, the “ethnic Chinese,” or Tionghoa, have started to vigorously revitalise their culture and also to display it in public. In Bali, as elsewhere in Indonesia, the Chinese have had a long history as subandar or trade masters who managed maritime trade on behalf of Hindu-Balinese kings. Today, many Balinese temples still display shrines for the worship of these important ancestral office holders called Ratu Subandar. In the wake of the revival of their cultural life, the Chinese have started to perform elaborate rituals and ceremonies, such as the Chinese dragon dance, in front of Ratu Subandar shrines. This chapter traces the transformation of the ethnic Chinese in Bali, who have built up networks with religious communities in many Asian countries from where they now import elements of “Chineseness” in varied ways.
Edited by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and David D. Harnish
Contributors include Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin, David D. Harnish,I Wayan Ardika, Ni Luh Sitjiati Beratha, Erni Budiwanti, I Nyoman Darma Putra, I Nyoman Dhana, Leo Howe, Mary Ida Bagus, Lene Pedersen, Martin Slama, Meike Rieger, Sophie Strauss, Kari Telle and Dustin Wiebe.