As Nek Sofia explained it, they were "just chanting around so his friends and family can see; to show that he's been circumcised. Sometimes we do this to show that people are married ". In fact, most people know what has been happened so the display seems mostly symbolic. The other explicit purpose of the procession is to make the boy girang (excitedly happy). Actually, the boy did not betray any emotion, as would be appropriate in most island Southeast Asian locations.
|Still of older man (black hat, beige shirt, checked sarong) performing silat.|
As the procession neared the marquis, older man performed silat. Silat is often thought of as self-defense, inner strength building, but it also "is like entertainment; a show for the bride and bridegroom or for the anak sunat".
Hanging presents / Gantong
|Still of women reaching up, trying to tear down hanging presents|
EntertainmentAfter eating there was some entertainment. To win an anchor, you needed to be able to lift a bottle using a nail tied to string.
Greasy Pole / Tiang Bubutan
Circumcision in the past
Nek Sofia cast his mind back to circumcisions in the past, I have paraphrased and edited a bit:
It took years of preparation to save up for for a circumcision. The circumcision was conducted outdoors. The men would hold a tikar (woven pandan leaf) covering to keep the operation private. Inside was the circumciser, the bengkung, with one or two helpers. Before the operation, they would give the boy some puffs on a cigarette. Then they would use bamboo to pinch it and then cut it with a knife. They tried to get it over at once. Sometimes they cut too much; sometimes they cut too little. Outside people were playing drums (gendang). There were also three or four guys who cut the neck of the chicken right off at the same time as foreskin was cut. Ladies would cut the chicken open (it was an ayam hutan [wild chicken], I think it was a rooster) and collect the heart cook it and feed it to the circumcised boy. We don't know what the belief was. Afterwards, a ceremony took place with food or drink, that included whiskey and brandy. Blood would drop into a clam shell. The foreskin was stored in a coconut I think. A cingkalak made from bamboo was used to hold up the sarong so it didn't brush against the wound. The next day, the boy would sit down with lollies on one side, bananas on the other. Sometimes the boy would take two or three weeks to get better. If it was swollen or took longer to heal, they would put us in the sea water. I'll have to check, it's been a long time since we have done circumcisions like that. But as for the costume, they are still doing it.
|Picture of a jukung in taken 1977, available from NAA. |
White hull with blue and yellow stripe painted above.
|Cracked and faded, the blue and yellow paint on a |
weathered, old jukung made by Nek Sofia's father.
|Back end of sailing boat (jukung).|
The konek is circled in red.
The kulit kima (clam shell) symbolizes the female genitalia. For example, trepang (sea cucumber) and kima (clam) are sometimes equated with penis and vagina. Last night, as a man explained to me that he would be going out trepang collecting, other started teasing him. It's part of the standard joking repertoire that Moni and I have come across. Or, I've been told, if someone's going out to get clams from the sea, someone might tease them, saying, "why are you going out to the ocean for see clams (kima laut), it's easier to get land clams (kima darat)!" But the symbolism is not always salacious. Babies are placentas are also stored along with ash in the clam shell. Nek Sofia tole me that the father used to take shell to the lagoon in a jukung, the further he took the clam shell out, the more independent and brave the child would be.
One thing, I guess, all would agree upon is that the ritual is about preparing a boy for manhood. He is ready to be a man, as Nek Sofia explained it, now he can move on and get married.
Roheim, Geza. The Eternal Ones of the Dream. (I haven't read this, but I've heard it's fascinating!)
Sackett, Lee, "Punishment in Ritual:" Man Making" among Western Desert Aborigines"
Again, thanks to our wonderful hosts, Nek Sofia (Datok & Perempuan)! Thanks also to John Morton for stimulating my interest in this topic generally, and for his ideas specifically related to this blog.