Manual Muslim Puritans: Reformist Psychology in Southeast Asian Islam

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Being literally as opposed to metaphorically embodied, the martial art cannot be reduced to text; continually in motion, silat thwarts photographic stills. The idea that art can only reflect material culture indicates a western bias against movement, in favour of stasis. To become empowered with agency, aesthetic movements must be rehearsed, trained, embodied and performed Laderman , Aesthetics are understood to apply here to the culturally accepted and shared norms for carrying out and evaluating the performance of silat at weddings.

In wedding silat the dance postures and gestures possess symbolic significance that works on practical, mystical and aesthetic levels. Malay aesthetics derive from discourses of power, from the adat customary law governing the traditional ritualized formal interactions between the Melaka Sultans and their subjects, and reflect Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and animist influences Khoo ; Sheppard , , The sinuous, curling, mazelike aesthetics in Malay weaponry, silverware, and architecture, and also displayed in scriptural Quranic art, clothing, and architectural features such as carved wooden window latticework.

Although silat experts blend into their social environment, and may be deliberately difficult to spot, for the trained eye guru silat can be discerned by the way they move around their environment, lightly stepping with a level foot as if walking across a highly sprung wooden floor in a traditional wooden Malay house.


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The wife invented silat after witnessing a fraught battle between a bird and a snake, and upon returning home she thrashed her husband, who subsequently became her first silat pupil Draeger ; Pauka ; Sheppard ; Tuan Ismail Tuan Soh The imagining of modern Malaysia constitutes the present through the romantically reinvented imagined community of Melaka, whose warrior heroes are prominently displayed in fictive portraits concocted for tourist visitors of the excellent local ethnographic museum Anderson Anis Md. Nor Linkages can also be found to the male Arab folk dance tradition, zafana , called zapin Melayu when performed at Malay weddings Mohd.

Nor ; Hughes-Freeland Whatever the technicalities of origin, seni silat is a cultural practice found across the Malay world, those regions that were historically ruled by a Malay Sultanate, including Singapore, the Riau Archipelago, Sumatra, Malaysia and Brunei Farrer 26; Milner Ever since, new forms of silat have emerged or have been introduced. The more special and expensive the delicacies, the higher the recognized status of the bridal couple; similarly, the more exquisite the silat displayed, and the longer the performance, the better. On the other hand, seni silat the artistic or dance-like silat is related to bunga flower.

The core of the bunga category relates to seni art in the way that buah relates to pencak , yet these categories are somewhat cryptic, with overlapping and interpenetrating layers. One interesting possibility is that silat derives from the martial practices of the Orang Selat, a people indigenous to Singapore formerly known as Temasek and the Riau Archipelago.

Silat practitioners understand their art seni to encourage the enemy to err, silap to make a mistake which can then be acted upon.

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The same logic of outwitting the prey through distraction or cunning is used in hunting or fishing, when laying traps or setting bait. To simply reduce beguiling silat movements to aesthetics or beauty misses the point. Some wedding silat dances mimic wuduk ritual movements. As the performer advances he takes steps to either side and makes movements as if washing the hands, face, forearms and feet. To simulate washing the ears each hand smoothly curls around the ear in a scythe like motion, ending in an abrupt flick of the wrist.

Wuduk places a powerful emphasis on spiritual cleanliness against defilement from sexual activity. Urinal, sexual and anal emissions, any physical contact with members of the other sex except immediate family , and unclean thoughts and actions place the person in a state of ritual uncleanliness.

Wuduk also renders the individual less susceptible to spiritual invasion or attack at the behest of a sorcerer bomoh. Some silat experts, in former times referred to as bomoh silat rather than the current more polite term of guru silat , visit the well of Hung Tuah, just outside of Melaka. Here wuduk is performed in the waters of the well to derive spiritual potency from the semangat vital force, spirit of Hang Tuah, the legendary hero who ostensibly introduced silat into Malaysia.

Silat Melayu , hence, Malay silat , and Malay society itself Melayu is recognized as simultaneously indigenous to the region, and yet originating from outside, and Malays do, and yet somehow do not, consider themselves Orang Asli indigenous people in their own land. The ancient royal or noble practice of silat persists in the performance of garden party silat to entertain royal guests, and this status feature finds its double in the urban street performance of silat pengantin , where the groom occupies the role of king for a day raja sehari.

Such doubling is reciprocal and not strictly a ludic reversal, and does not simply switch agonistic with ludic, ritual or performative forms. The mood inculcated by the silat performance at both events is serious, and emphasizes correct customary behavior adat , to recapitulate an actual, imagined, or symbolic class structure of ranked hierarchical social relationships. The housing blocks were due to be upgraded by the Housing Development Board. To my eyes these pricey apartments looked grim and forbidding, like some Stalinist ghetto.


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At first glance, the street reminded me of my postgraduate residence in Peckham. Marine Parade was, however, a welcome escape from the perpetual undercurrent of poverty, fear and violence then prevalent in Southeast London. The identical grey two-bedroom units perched each atop the other, banked by a black path of gleaming asphalt shimmering in equatorial sunlight. The Malays use void deck to celebrate marriage.

The Chinese use the void decks for funerals, and normally leave their dead outside in coffins for three, five, or seven days Tong There is a peculiar mirroring pattern differentiating the Chinese and Malay cultures of Singapore. Where the Malays tend to train martial arts in the evening, the Chinese train at dawn; the Malays tend to train dressed in black, the Chinese prefer bright colors or white.

The evocative account that follows is worked up from my performance ethnography, including fieldnotes, photographs and video footage. Under the block in the middle of an oval circle of twelve drumming men a small elderly man twisted and turned in front of a young seated groom, dressed resplendently. I found it impossible to follow the movements, let alone comprehend them. The hands rotated in front of the dancer in horizontal curling passes, with the thumb and forefingers touching whilst the other fingers were splayed out, as if holding an imaginary needle between the finger and thumb of both hands, and sewing jahit thin air.

Next, in the same circuitous serpentine fashion, from a low stance with the weight on the back foot, the dancer extended his right hand to the groom as if to shake hands, with the left poised underneath, but instead of shaking he held the grooms hand briefly whilst muttering something inaudible under the rhythm of the tremendous smacking of drums. Sweeping the grooms hand from his own with his left hand, whilst raising his stance and transferring his weight more to the front, he paused suddenly at shoulder level to slap the back of the right hand hard against the palm of the left, followed by lifting the palms over his head as if smoothing his hair, but without touching the head, going into a double palm motion in front of the groom.

After several steps, the left hand curled up in front of the body, and then down, to hide behind his left thigh, whilst the right hand stretched out and took a long semi-circular route from behind the performer, ever-so-slowly pulsating like a birds wing flapping to the beat, to come to rest at the center of his chest in a salute, as he simultaneously raised his posture to stand upright with feet together.

Food is provided at the smaller akad nikah Islamic exchange of vows ceremony where the bride price is given, which precedes the main public event or bersanding Wedding ceremonies of pre-Islamic origin by a few days or up to six months. The main expense occurs through the main feast, where the bride and groom sit together on display during the bersanding ceremony.

Their outfits are heavy, lavish, and extravagant with the bride dripping in gold, and the groom attired with a keris dagger and kalong heavy necklace. A band or some form of entertainment is required, as is a photographer for wedding albums, and more often than not a videographer. As mentioned above, some weddings involve masses of people. During a three-day and night extravaganza some three thousand guests may show up. When different family groups located in similar concentric positions in the social structure encounter one another, main mata eye play flirtation abounds, and the potential for inter and intra group conflict is heightened.

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Guests impress their power and standing onto each other through sheer numbers, the flaunting of wealth in gold, jewelry, silk and the latest fashions. Similarly, wedding ceremonies are simple for polygamous marriages beyond the first bride. By the time Li 36 conducted her research in the s arranged marriages were virtually extinct. The power to chose a partner has shifted to the younger generation. Cutting a forelock of hair to test for virginity remains.

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If the chopped tuft stands erect the bride is a virgin. Nowadays during financial hard times wedding silat may be sacrificed. Some of the more sharia minded Malays denounce the bersanding ceremony as a backward throwback to a non-Muslim time dominated by Hindu raja s. Wedding silat forms a dance spectacle status display representing exchange systems based on honor.

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Long, skillful performances, thorough adherence to adat , and lavish costumes indicate a prestigious entry for the newly married couple into the Malay community. Usually there will be a small party in progress under the block the void deck with food, decorations, a band or music. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Seller Inventory GRP More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description University of California Press. Condition: Very Good. A copy that has been read, but remains in excellent condition. Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting, but may contain a neat previous owner name.

The spine remains undamaged. Seller Inventory GI4N Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Seller Inventory Light wear to boards. Content is clean and bright.


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Small previous owners name to first blank page. Good DJ with sun toning to spine. This is a hard cover book with green cloth covered boards. Burhani, Ahmad Najib.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN RELIGIONS: NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS IN INSULAR CULTURES

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