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The diversion of the village gods: A criminal turn in the biography of Balinese copperplate inscriptions

In: Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia
Author:
Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin . bhauser@sowi.uni-goettingen.de

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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.

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