Collective representations of “time” do not passively reflect time, but time and space are mediated by society. By our social practices, such as making music and dancing, we create time. Different cultural groups may experience and perceive time in different ways, and also within one cultural group the quality of time is not always experienced in the same way. Anthropological studies have shown that in each cultural group different perceptions of time co-exist. For instance, time generally tends to be perceived as both a linear flow and as repetitive. We should not confuse metaphysical and sociological arguments about time: time in music and other performing arts operates at the social and not at the metaphysical level. The essay discusses a variety of social qualities of time and space as it becomes manifest in some performing arts of West Java and the implications for their safeguarding.
Baduy pantun stories are part of the larger Sundanese oral tradition of pantun storytelling in west Java. The stories recount the deeds of the nobility of such old Sundanese kingdoms as Pajajaran and Galuh. Although the Baduy still recite the pantun stories in their rituals, in the larger cities to the east of the Baduy village Kanékés pantun recitation almost disappeared. On the basis of short periods of fieldwork in and around Kanékés village between 1976 and 2014, in this essay I shall discuss Baduy pantun storytelling. I shall summarize earlier major publications and analyse some performance aspects of two Baduy pantun stories which I recorded. Although I do not concentrate on the text, I do discuss a few cultural issues arising from the texts. Baduy oral literature also includes children’s and women’s songs, as well as fables and myths of origin (dongéng) which do not involve music. These will not be discussed here.