Universiteit Leiden

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Of jars and gongs

Of jars and gongs deals with the traditional ritual art of Ot Danum Dayak subsistence farmers from a stretch of tropical rainforest in the heart of Borneo. Together with the Ngaju, their neighbours to the south, they gloried in one of the most elaborate secondary mortuary rites in the world.

Prof.dr. Raymond Corbey
30 November 2016
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Much of their art depicts the journey of the soul of the deceased through a richly variegated spirit world. Heirloom jars and bronze gongs were as omnipresent in their art, ritual and cosmology as in their real-life exchanges, and contributed substantially to the identity of both humans and spirits.

The present publication offers  a comparative analysis of various Ot Danum ritual objects. It draws on a long tradition of ethnographic writing on the area stretching back to the mid-19th century, mainly by German and Swiss Protestant missionaries and Dutch colonials.

About the author

Raymond Corbey is an anthropologist attached to Leiden University, the Netherlands. His research includes the history of dealings with non-western ritual art by, among others, missionaries, art dealers and museums.

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