Small Sacrifices: Religious Change and Cultural Identity Among the Ngaju of Indonesia

Paperback | May 1, 1997

byAnne Schiller

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Small Sacrifices is an ethnographic study of Ngaju Dayaks, rain forest dwellers of the remote interior region of Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Like many indigenous peoples throughout the world, the Ngaju have recently been affected by exposure to world religions, by improvements intransportation and communication, by new demands on family-based production, and by other factors pertaining to their growing incorporation into an expanding state system in an era of rapid political and economic change. The Ngaju response to these pressures, Anne Schiller contends, is most clearlyseen in the religious sphere. Over the past two decades, many Ngaju have taken to recasting and reinterpreting their indigenous religion, known formerly as Kaharingan, and now as Hindu Kaharingan. Paradoxically, this process of religious change involves the codification of religious belief and thestandardization of ritual. It also includes efforts to distinguish "religious practices" from other "customs." These developments figure importantly in the construction of modern Ngaju identity. The author focuses especially on the form and content of tiwah, an elaborate ritual of secondarytreatment of the dead, with multiple and complex meanings for Hindu Kaharingan Ngaju, as well as for those who have converted to Christianity or Islam.

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Small Sacrifices is an ethnographic study of Ngaju Dayaks, rain forest dwellers of the remote interior region of Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Like many indigenous peoples throughout the world, the Ngaju have recently been affected by exposure to world religions, by improvements intransportation and communication, by new deman...

Anne Schiller is at North Carolina State University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 9.17 × 5.98 × 0.51 inPublished:May 1, 1997Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195095588

ISBN - 13:9780195095586

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionThe Ngaju "Death Cult"The "Ngaju" People and the Ngaju RegionTiwah and the Issue of Ritual AcceptabilityKaharingan Ritual and Ngaju IdentitySome Implications of Religious Change in Central Kalimantan2. Death BeginsThe Rituals TodayThe Three Stages of Mortuary RitualSouls and Life ForcesRitual SpecialistsThe Mortuary Cycle: Death and Primary TreatmentThe Mortuary Cycle: Informing the DeceasedJourney to the Village of SoulsPreparations for TiwahThe Start of TiwahRitual Specialists at TiwahThe Cosmos Unlocked: Souls and Remains Are TreatedOrder and Anti-Order in Natural and Supernatural Worlds. Transgression of HadatThe Origin of HadatHadat and the Inhabitants of Upper- and LowerworldsHadat and the Jungle-Dwelling Beings

Editorial Reviews

"The book appeals to a broad audience with interests in religion, ethnicity, nationalism, social change, and so forth. Written eloguently and drawing on engaging episodes, it would also make a good textbook, paired with Schiller's ethnographic film on tiwah, 'Borneo: Beyond theGrave.'"--Religious Studies Review