“Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is one of Clifford Geertz’s most influential articles which illustrates not only the meaning of a given. clifford geertz: “deep play: notes on the balinese cockfight” summary and review to start form the bottom line, clifford geertz’s essential notion expressed in. The essay by anthropologist Clifford Geertz, which first appeared in his best- known book The Interpretation of Cultures, has been published in Russian as a.

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A shadow of the experience no doubt remains with the principals, perhaps even with some of the witnesses of a deep fight, as it remains with us when we leave the theater after seeing a powerful play well-performed; but it quite soon fades to become at most a schematic memory–a diffuse glow or an abstract shudder–and usually not even that.

This does not mean that the financial element is all-important. There is indeed a legend to the effect that the separation of Java and Bali is due to the action of a powerful Javanese religious figure who wished to protect himself against a Balinese culture hero the ancestor of two Ksatria castes who was a passionate cockfighting gambler. Enveloped balinewe in a haze of etiquette, a thick cloud of euphemism and ceremony, gesture and allusion, they kn here expressed in only the thinnest disguise of an animal mask, a mask which in fact demonstrates them far more effectively than it conceals them.

The problem is to learn how to read them, not to decipher something else going on behind the scenes. The “deep play” of the Balinese cockfight, says Geertz, is like artworks which illustrate an essential insight into our very coockfight.

The question of how it is that we perceive qualities in things-paintings, books, melodies, plays–that we do not feel we can assert literally to be there has come, in recent years, into the very center plaay aesthetic theory.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight – Wikipedia

As he watches fight after fight, with the active watching of an owner and a bettor for cockfighting has no more interest as a pure spectator sport than does croquet or dog racinghe grows familiar with it and what it has to say to him, much as the attentive listener to string quartets or the absorbed cockfigh of still life grows slowly more familiar with them in a way which opens his subjectivity to himself. Hogg Baltimore,pp. The man who attaches the spurs also provides them, and if the rooster he assists wins its owner awards him the spur-leg of the victim.

In the normal course of things, the Balinese are shy to the point of obsessiveness of open conflict.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

Cockfighting is a fight for statues, with bets serving only to symbolize the risk. Even falling down or any form of clumsiness is llay to be bad for these reasons. Its mythology, art, ritual, social organization, patterns of child rearing, forms of law, even styles of trance, have all been microscopically examined for traces of that elusive substance Jane Belo called ” The Balinese Temper.


If the wounded one can get a stab in and stagger on until the other drops, he is the official winner, even if he himself topples over an instant later. All this coupling of the occidental great with the oriental lowly will doubtless disturb certain sorts cf aestheticians as the earlier efforts of anthropologists to speak of Christianity and totemism in the same breath disturbed certain sorts of theologians.

But as ontological questions are or should be bracketed in the sociology of religion, judgmental ones are or should be bracketed in the sociology of art. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is that a people’s culture is an ensemble of rituals which are in themselves ensembles, and these cocifight are what the anthropologist is trying to decipher.

The actual cockfight is a human competition, delegated to animals, where the winner gets respect and admiration from the others, while money although Geertz does describe the complex betting system in great detail is secondary. At the very least you must pretend not to notice what he is doing, and he what you are doing. No temple festival should be conducted until one is made. And most curiously, and as we shall see most revealingly, where the first is always, without exception, even money, the second, equally without exception, is never such.

But they acted as if we simply did not exist, which, in fact, as this behavior was designed to inform us, we did not, or anyway not yet. A few moments later, one of the policemen marched importantly into the yard, looking for the village chief. Logically, cliffofd transfer could, of course, as well go the other way; but, like most of the rest of us, the Balinese are a tje deal more interested in understanding men than they are in understanding cocks.

Later their son, released by Siva, also returns and the hero-king announces his intention to enter a hermitage. Fighting cocks, almost every Balinese I have ever discussed the subject with has said, is like playing with fire only not getting burned.

Geertz shows how the Balinese cockfight serves as a cultural text which embodies, at least a portion of, what the real meaning of being Balinese is. Everyone in the village knew we had fled like everyone else. They asked us about it again and again I must have told the story, small detail by small detail, fifty times by the end of the daygently, affectionately, but quite insistently teasing us: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight.

Rola brings up an interesting point. In the cockfight, man and beast, good and evil, ego and id, the xockfight power of aroused masculinity and the destructive power of loosened animality fuse in a bloody drama of hatred, cruelty, violence, and death. Cockfights tetadjen; sabungan are held in a ring about fifty feet plxy. They are fed a special diet, which varies somewhat according to individual theories but which is mostly maize, sifted for impurities with far more care than it is when mere notex are going to eat it and yeertz to the animal kernel by kernel.


First, there is a simple withdrawal of interest as people wander off to have a cup of coffee or chat with a friend. I think that the word statues must be replaced with status in the 4th paragraph. This process, which rarely takes less than ten minutes, and often a good deal longer, is conducted in a very subdued, oblique, even dissembling manner Those not immediately involved give it at best but disguised, sidelong attention; those bqlinese, embarrassedly, are, attempt to pretend somehow that the whole thing is not really happening.

Indeed, one of the great culture heroes of Bali is a prince, called after his passion for the sport, “The Cockfighter,” who happened to be away at a very deep cockfight with a neighboring prince when the whole of his family-father, brothers, wives, sisters-were assassinated by commoner usurpers.

The types are coordinated with various cosmological ideas which help shape the making of matches, so that, for example, you fight a small, headstrong, speckled brown-on-white cock with flat-lying feathers and thin legs from the east side of the ring on a certain day of the complex Balinese calendar, and a large, cautious, all-black cock with tufted feathers and stubby legs from the north side on another day, and so on.

Jaya Prana, the subject of a Balinese Uriah myth, responds to the lord who has offered him the loveliest of six hundred servant girls: Usually they begin toward late afternoon and run three or four hours until sunset. As a dramatic shape, the fight displays a characteristic that does not seem so remarkable until one realizes that it does not have to be there: I have bet on the Unseen and won.

In the houseyard, the high-walled enclosures where the people live, fighting cocks are kept in wicker cages, moved frequently about so as to maintain the optimum balance of sun and shade. Views Read Edit View history.

On the independence of personal reputation and public status in Bali, see above, Chapter Mailing List Subscribe to our mailing list and get the latest news from Garage. Goodman, Languages of Art Indianapolis, ; M. And, as with those other embarrassments -opium smoking, begging, or uncovered breasts-it seeks, rather unsystematically, to put a stop to it. On the individual level, people involved in an institutionalized hostility relationship, called puik, in which they do not speak or otherwise have anything to do with each other the causes of this formal breaking of relations are many: Usually he will feel obliged to bet for it, the more so the closer the kin tie and the deeper the fight.

They take their form from the situation that evokes them, the floor on which they are placed, as Goffman puts it; but it is a form, and an articulate one, nonetheless. Lifted up into Siva’s presence, he is given the choice of three cocks.