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Ref ID: 22589
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Heringa, Rens
Title: Reconstructing the whole: seven months pregnancy ritual in Kerek, East Java
Date: 2007
Source: Kinship and food in South East Asia
Place of Publication: Copenhagen, Denmark
Publisher: NIAS
Notes: Introduction: Communal meals (<i>selametan</i>) are a principal ceremonial and to a certain extent religious element of nearly all rituals in Javanese culture (Koentjaraningrat 1984:344-349). The proceedings were long presented as a primarily male concern (see Geertz 1960
Koentjaraningrat 1984
Mayer 1887). Recent Southeast Asian studies have, however, highlighted the role of women as the providers of daily as well as ceremonial and ritual meals (see Asmussen 1999
Carsten 1991b
Manderson 1986a
Massard 1991
Trankell 1995) and as makers of food offerings to the gods (Brinkgreve 1997). For Java the contribution of women in the preparation and ritual exchange of food has been analysed among the mountain-dwelling Tenggerese of East Java (Lüem 1988) and in the aristocratic court of Surakarta (Brakel 1997). As the complementarity of male and female aspects in food exchanges needs further exploration an important theme of my chapter is the role of gender. The seven months' pregnancy ritual held in the villages of the subdistrict of Kerek on the northeast coast of Java forms the central focus of the enquiry. An introduction to the area is followed by an outline of classificatory notions that form the cosmological rationale for the symbolic role of different foods. In the following section, similar concepts are shown to be valid for discussing the theme of kinship. The distinct manner in which kinship function in Kerek is set off against a reconsideration of Javanese kinship as presented in the literature. Particular attention is paid to the gendered ideals operating among different social strata of the community. Thereby the stage is set for the description and analysis of the food exchanges. My aim is to clarify the mythical and cosmological foundations for the sets of ingredients and food and show how the exchanges symbolically regenerate all levels of kin relationship comprising the whole of human and non-human social bonds. Although only some of the food is specific to pregnancy rituals it will be shown that the ritual would not be effective without the full complement of food gifts that also form part of most other life cycle rituals. Throughout the chapter comparative references to ritual practice in other Southeast Asian areas will serve to strengthen the argument.
Date Created: 4/9/2015
Editors: Janowski, Monica
Kerlogue, Fiona
Volume: 38
Page Start: 24
Page End: 53
Series Title: NIAS Studies in Asian Topics