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Bridges to the Ancestors

Music, Myth, and Cultural Politics at an Indonesian Festival

David D. Harnish

Publication Year: 2006

The spectacular Lingsar festival is held annually at a village temple complex built above the most abundant water springs on the island of Lombok, near Bali. Participants come to the festival not only for the efficacy of its rites but also for its spiritual, social, and musical experience. A nexus of religious, political, artistic, and agrarian interests, the festival also serves to harmonize relations between indigenous Sasak Muslims and migrant Balinese Hindus. Ethnic tensions, however, lie beneath the surface of cooperative behavior, and struggles regularly erupt over which group--Balinese or Sasak--owns the past and dominates the present. Bridges to the Ancestors is a broad ethnographic study of the festival based on over two decades of research. The work addresses the festival's players, performing arts, rites, and histories, and considers its relationship to the island's sociocultural and political trends. Music, the most public icon of the festival, has been largely responsible for overcoming differences between the island's two ethnic groups. Through the intermingling of Balinese and Sasak musics at the festival, a profound union has been forged, which participants confirm has been the event's primary social role. Bridges to the Ancestors effectively reveals the Lingsar festival as a site of cultural struggle as the author explores how history, identity, and power are constructed and negotiated. He addresses the fascinating interaction between music and myth and the forces of modernity, globalization, authenticity, tourism, religion, regionalism, and nationalism in maintaining "tradition."

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I want to thank the officials and committees of the Fulbright-Hayes grant offices. I received two grants to conduct research in Lombok and Bali and the fieldwork would have been impossible without them. I also extend my appreciation to the Indonesian government research institute, LIPI, and to the regional government centers that helped me in Indonesia....

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Chapter One. Encounters, Constructions, Reflections

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pp. 1-15

DURING A BREAK in the 1988 festival at Lingsar, the Sasak priest Sanusi and I sat on a pavilion in the temple, where he carefully responded to my questions on the schedule of rites and their meanings. Suddenly, the Balinese leader and grandson of the last Lombok Balinese king, Anak Agung Ged

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Chapter Two. Festivals and Cultures of Lombok

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pp. 16-43

THOUGH RARELY a subject of study in ethnomusicology, “festival” as concept and action has been extensively explored by anthropologists and folklorists. To my mind, the available literature divides into two camps: one defines festival as cultural representation revealing deeply held ethos and belief (following the lead of Victor Turner), and the other views it as public display mediating cultural or...

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Chapter Three. Myths, Actors, and Politics [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 44-88

THE VILLAGE and temple of Lingsar are located in the heart of the western plain of Lombok, due south of a mountain informally called Gunung Nudaya (Northern Mountain), which lies on the westward side of the northern chain of mountains whose culmination is Gunung Rinjani. There are two major water springs at Lingsar, and irrigation dikes are built to use this water and rainwater to...

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Chapter Four. Temple Units, Performing Arts, and Festival Rites

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pp. 89-120

THE TWO TEMPLES of Lingsar are Pura Ulon, also called Pura Aiq Mual, and Pura Lingsar, also called Pura Lingsar Barat. For this discussion of physical arrangements, I will put aside the assertion that the kemaliq is separate from the gadoh and say that within both temples there are gadoh and kemaliq courtyards. The Pura Lingsar kemaliq is larger and much more active than that in Pura Ulon....

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Chapter Five. Music: History, Cosmology, and Content

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pp. 121-161

THE IDEA OF meaning in music assumes that a given music embodies semiotic messages or constructs or reinforces in sound organization concepts of social order, gender, religion, or identity recognized by culture members. These points are primarily reflective; that is, music may express a common sentiment or reflect or represent the given social order of its listeners and producers. Music is not, of course,...

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Chapter Six. Explorations of Meaning

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pp. 162-189

WHAT DRAWS PEOPLE to Lingsar? Balinese participants have a list of religious reasons; Sasak participation, though originally religious, is today problematic and in transition, combining religious beliefs (i.e., powers in nature and ancestors) with cultural obligation. Power, family, and social relations no doubt also play a part. While there is a “culture” among participants in which people share certain...

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Chapter Seven. Changing Dimensions, Changing Identities

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pp. 190-206

THIS CHAPTER highlights changes in the festival, in the officials, in the performing arts, and in the sociocultural identities of the participants over the last twenty years. “Change” is, of course, necessary for any major public festival to remain meaningful to its participants, but the changes at Lingsar have surprised me, and the forces involved in these changes—local government, religious leaders, Sasak...

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Chapter Eight. The Final Gong

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pp. 207-216

THE LINGSAR Pujawali festival uniquely joins together two ethnic groups—migrant Hindu Balinese and Muslim Sasak—and is a cultural site of both struggle and reconciliation. A combination of activated myth narratives, participant foreknowledge and expectation, sequenced liturgies, expanding music repertoires and structural homologies, intermingling arts, and released energies interact to create...


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pp. 217-235


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pp. 237-244


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pp. 245-252


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pp. 253-260

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861674
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824829148

Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 636641948
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Bridges to the Ancestors

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Sasak (Indonesian people) -- Indonesia -- Lombok -- Rites and ceremonies.
  • Sasak (Indonesian people) -- Indonesia -- Lombok -- Religion.
  • Mythology, Balinese -- Indonesia -- Lombok.
  • Songs, Balinese -- Indonesia -- Lombok.
  • Fasts and feasts -- Indonesia -- Lombok.
  • Political culture -- Indonesia -- Lombok.
  • Muslism -- Indonesia -- Lombok.
  • Hindus -- Indonesia -- Lombok.
  • Lombok (Indonesia) -- Social life and customs.
  • Lombok (Indonesia) -- Religious life and customs.
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