Lamak

Ritual objects in Bali

Francine Brinkgreve | 2016

Lamak

Ritual objects in Bali

Francine Brinkgreve | 2016

ISBN: 9789088903908

Imprint: Sidestone Press Dissertations | Format: 210x280mm | 274 pp. | Language: English | >100 illus. (bw) | >100 illus. (fc) | Category: anthropology, ethnology, Indonesia, Bali, lamak, ritual objects, temples, ancestors, Balinese cosmology | download cover

This is the first study to examine in detail ritual objects known as ‘Lamak’, a fascinating and unique form of ephemeral material culture which is a prominent feature of Balinese creativity.

A lamak is a long narrow ritual hanging that is an essential requirement at almost all rituals in Bali. It is hung from altars and shrines at temple festivals and on festive holy days. Made usually of palm leaves, it is by nature ephemeral and it is made time and again. Even though permanent forms of the lamak, made of cloth or coins, do exist, the ephemeral palm leaf form must be present. Sometimes reaching a length of several metres and decorated with a range of motifs, its most elaborate forms are made by specialist craftsmen and women.

The lamak serves as base for offerings and attracts deities and deified ancestors to them. Decorative motifs representing sources of life are ordered according to Balinese concepts of the vertical structure of the cosmos. Best known among the motifs is the cili, a human figure in female form that symbolizes human fertility and regeneration. Through offerings and the active role of the lamak, worshippers offer thanks to their deities and request prosperity and protection. Despite decades of change and modernization that have affected all aspects of life in Bali, the essential role of the lamak has survived intact.

Although there are many studies of Bali’s internationally appreciated arts and crafts, this is the first one to examine in detail this fascinating and unique form of ephemeral material culture which is a prominent feature of Balinese creativity. The study answers the question: why do Balinese make lamak and why do they continue to make them time and again? It examines the use and function of the lamak in ritual, the motifs that decorate them, the materials and techniques to make them, regional and individual styles, and processes of change and commercialization.

1. Study of lamak
1.1 Lamak in Bali anno 2014 and 2016
1.2 Subject and structure of the book
1.3 Lamak and western scholarship
1.4 Framework and inspiration
1.5 Methodology

2. The lamak as ritual object
2.1 Inspiration
2.2 Rituals in Bali
2.3 What is a lamak?
2.4 What do the Balinese do with lamak?
2.5 Galungan and odalan
2.6 What is the purpose of a lamak, what does it do?
2.7 Conclusion

3. Motifs of life
3.1 Insight
3.2 Motifs on lamak
3.4 Relations within and among motifs
3.5 Conclusion

4. Ephemeral and permanent lamak
4.1 Lamak makers at work
4.2 Ephemeral and permanent lamak
4.3 Palm leaf lamak
4.4 Permanent lamak
4.5 Ephemeral and permanent lamak compared
4.6 Conclusion

5. Lamak and their social network
5.1 Ni Ketut Pilik, 1988 and 2013
5.2 Lamak and their social network
5.3 Lamak makers and entrepeneurs
5.4 Style: diversity and development
5.5 Conclusion

6. Why the Balinese make and remake lamak
6.1 Lamak, ritual and ephemerality
6.2 Lamak, visual communication and agency
6.3 Interrelatedness of different aspects of lamak
6.4 Continuities and change in relation to lamak
6.5 The active life of a lamak

Dr. Francine Brinkgreve

Francine Brinkgreve is curator for the Insular Southeast Asia collection at the National Museum of World Cultures, which includes Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden and the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. During her study Cultural Anthropology at Leiden University, she specialized in the cultures of Indonesia.

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Abstract:

This is the first study to examine in detail ritual objects known as ‘Lamak’, a fascinating and unique form of ephemeral material culture which is a prominent feature of Balinese creativity.

A lamak is a long narrow ritual hanging that is an essential requirement at almost all rituals in Bali. It is hung from altars and shrines at temple festivals and on festive holy days. Made usually of palm leaves, it is by nature ephemeral and it is made time and again. Even though permanent forms of the lamak, made of cloth or coins, do exist, the ephemeral palm leaf form must be present. Sometimes reaching a length of several metres and decorated with a range of motifs, its most elaborate forms are made by specialist craftsmen and women.

The lamak serves as base for offerings and attracts deities and deified ancestors to them. Decorative motifs representing sources of life are ordered according to Balinese concepts of the vertical structure of the cosmos. Best known among the motifs is the cili, a human figure in female form that symbolizes human fertility and regeneration. Through offerings and the active role of the lamak, worshippers offer thanks to their deities and request prosperity and protection. Despite decades of change and modernization that have affected all aspects of life in Bali, the essential role of the lamak has survived intact.

Although there are many studies of Bali’s internationally appreciated arts and crafts, this is the first one to examine in detail this fascinating and unique form of ephemeral material culture which is a prominent feature of Balinese creativity. The study answers the question: why do Balinese make lamak and why do they continue to make them time and again? It examines the use and function of the lamak in ritual, the motifs that decorate them, the materials and techniques to make them, regional and individual styles, and processes of change and commercialization.

Contents

1. Study of lamak
1.1 Lamak in Bali anno 2014 and 2016
1.2 Subject and structure of the book
1.3 Lamak and western scholarship
1.4 Framework and inspiration
1.5 Methodology

2. The lamak as ritual object
2.1 Inspiration
2.2 Rituals in Bali
2.3 What is a lamak?
2.4 What do the Balinese do with lamak?
2.5 Galungan and odalan
2.6 What is the purpose of a lamak, what does it do?
2.7 Conclusion

3. Motifs of life
3.1 Insight
3.2 Motifs on lamak
3.4 Relations within and among motifs
3.5 Conclusion

4. Ephemeral and permanent lamak
4.1 Lamak makers at work
4.2 Ephemeral and permanent lamak
4.3 Palm leaf lamak
4.4 Permanent lamak
4.5 Ephemeral and permanent lamak compared
4.6 Conclusion

5. Lamak and their social network
5.1 Ni Ketut Pilik, 1988 and 2013
5.2 Lamak and their social network
5.3 Lamak makers and entrepeneurs
5.4 Style: diversity and development
5.5 Conclusion

6. Why the Balinese make and remake lamak
6.1 Lamak, ritual and ephemerality
6.2 Lamak, visual communication and agency
6.3 Interrelatedness of different aspects of lamak
6.4 Continuities and change in relation to lamak
6.5 The active life of a lamak

Dr. Francine Brinkgreve

Francine Brinkgreve is curator for the Insular Southeast Asia collection at the National Museum of World Cultures, which includes Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden and the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. During her study Cultural Anthropology at Leiden University, she specialized in the cultures of Indonesia.

read more









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