AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 593

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Session 593: Arts & Culture

The Mnemo-Noetic Verb omofu within the Manyoshu Memory Poetry
Robert F. Wittkamp, Kansai University, Japan

The verb which presumably appears most within the waka collection Man'yōshū is miru, to see, but without any doubt the next in order of appearance will be omofu. Since many theses have already dealt with “to see” it is surprising that only very few researchers have taken up the challenge of exploring the origin and meaning of omofu. In particular there are no papers dealing sufficiently with its development with and after the introduction of writing systems. My observations are motivated by the German Egyptologist Jan Assmann and his exploration of the connections between writing, remembering, and political identity. His widely supported claim is that all language scripts which origins can be traced back were created to serve the “prospective memoria”. This nexus between script and cultural memory is explicated clearly within the prefaces of the Kojiki or the poem collection Kaifūsō and even supported by the earliest proto-Japanese text documents dating from the fifth century. The Man'yōshū possesses no preface but already the title of the collection can be interpreted as a wish for prospective memoria: “A Collection for Ten Thousand Generations”. By applying the analyzing methods of semiotic (semantic) structuralism combined with a closer look at letters and writing systems I will show that the greater project of creating and maintaining cultural memory is reflected on the smaller scale as well, i.e. at the level of other poems like private elegy, poetry exchanges between friends, love poems etc.

Wayang Golek and Heritage in Sunda (West Java, Indonesia)
Sarah Andrieu, EHESS, France

This paper shall present how to consider a local practice as heritage can have consequences on it and how to investigate this same practice can give clues about considering heritage in general. Indeed, heritage can be something far from the official definitions and the practices of scholars, governments or institutions (such as Unesco). In this context, Sundanese wayang golek reveals itself as an interesting focus. Wayang golek is a rod puppet theatre, mainly present in West Java, where it remains nowadays very popular among rural populations. The historical density of the practice is usually understood by local practitioners in the complementary terms of warisan (linking to the past) and pusaka (as a social connection through intangible elements that are made tangible into objects). Moreover, the ‘recent’ and official patrimonialisation (or heritagisation) of wayang golek seems to tend to its ‘spectacularisation’ and ‘folklorisation’, and makes of it a product to export, a resource to exploit, a capital which benefits are understood to be at the advantage of a region which suffered from the 1997 and 2008 economical crises, while the Indonesian State is engaged in a complex political democratisation process after the thirty years of the authoritarian government of the New Order (1967-1998). As a result, observers are likely to forget that wayang golek in itself works as a metadiscourse on heritage, which could allow us to understand processes that are presently at stake inside the contemporary practice of wayang golek. Wayang golek works actually as an independent and reflexive system.

Locating the gong-row tradition in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia:The Celebes Sea as a cultural complex
Mayco Santaella, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

The Island of Sulawesi in the eastern part of Indonesia reflects great cultural diversity. Of the sixty ethno-linguistic groups present, fully one third are located in the province of Central Sulawesi, home to the gong-row tradition generally identified by the floating term kulintang. In Central Sulawesi the tradition is practiced mostly by coastal groups, as it is in other areas surrounding the Celebes Sea. The paper interrogates the regional nature of gong music in Central Sulawesi and its connections to other regions including the southern Philippines and North Sulawesi. I argue that these regions constitute a single, historically related cultural complex presently fragmented by contemporary political boundaries. I further posit a tripartite combination of critical features for the genre: the melodic instrument, the ensemble, and the repertoire. Following the notion of Indonesian historiographer Kartodirdjo of a history as supporting and developing symbolic identities, I argue that the gong-row instrument, ensemble and repertoire (this tripartite conceptualization) constitutes a shared connection for the peoples of this cultural complex. Drawing upon historical documents, ethnomusicological print and sound sources, and fieldwork the paper discusses the relationship of this gong tradition among peoples connected through the Celebes Sea. The kulintang tradition functions as an identity marker for each locale as well as for a larger Malay identity. The paper examines the genre at micro and macro levels, juxtaposing local particularities and a shared common practice.

Tattooing the Ideal: An Examination of the Relationship between ‘Horimono’ Tattoos Used in Real Life and as Represented in Japanese Art between Late-Edo and Taisho Periods.
Naho Ohnuki, Ritsumeikan University, Japan

This paper will focus on ‘horimono’, a type of Japanese tattooing, and examine the relationship between real ‘horimono’ and that depicted in artworks such as Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Specifically, an attempt will be given to analyse how and with what effects in mind was ‘horimono’ depicted along with the figures that sport them in artworks such as represented by the woodblock prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861). The paper will consider the following as hypothetical conclusions expected from the analysis. First, that artists like Kuniyoshi paid much attention to the depiction of the human figure and its features by applying distinct characteristics, such as strength and bewitching attraction, to many of the figures sporting ‘horimono’ in his prints. Second, that these figures with such distinct characteristics reflect the ideal body of an outlaw hero, and in extension the ideal hero himself admired by many at the time. Finally, that ‘horimono’ functioned to represent the character of the person depicted in prints and paintings, and even the person itself. With these in mind, this paper will examine the relationship between the ‘horimono’ in artworks and in real life, by considering that the attributions of real ‘horimono’ are reflected in artworks and that the ‘horimono’ in artworks are idealised, thus leading to the theory proposed by this paper that the ‘horimono’ in artworks such as woodblock prints may have influenced ‘horimono’ in real life.

Painted Walls and Painted Cloths: Shared Narratives in Nayaka Art, 1500-1800
Anna L. Seastrand, University of Chicago, USA

Narrative pictures from various regions of South Asia are largely understood to have been integrated with oral performances of the stories they depict. Yet, this insight has not been applied to south Indian narrative murals or kalamkaris (paintings on cloth). In part, this can be attributed to scholarship that divides painting among several distinct categories of media, analyzing each in isolation from the others. This paper, conversely, proceeds from the premise that painting should be conceptualized as a unitary whole composed of interrelated parts. Study of the relationships between parts enriches our knowledge of both the objects and their contexts. Murals and kalamkaris of the 16th to 18th centuries share strong similarities in style, form, and composition. While no tradition of performance is today associated with either of these forms, allied arts, such as narrative scrolls, testify to oral performance of illustrated narratives common to all media. Both murals and kalamkari are found primarily in temples, and both contain narrative text or labels in Tamil, Telugu or both languages together. Were they considered to be a single pictorial form represented in different media? Were kalamkari a mobile form of mural? Who read them, how were they experienced, what purpose did they serve? Comparison as a mode of inquiry offers a different approach the vexed problems of authorship, intended viewership, and the question of performance. Foregrounding relationships between different media produces data that considers a fuller context, one closer to the reality of those who made and viewed these objects.