Entertainment and Circumcisions; Sisingaan Dancing in West Java

By Jörgen Hellman

The article elicits the complex relationship that exists in many Asian societies between art, drama and religious ritual. Male circumcisions in West Java are often elaborated into extraordinary events, including hundreds of guests who take part in a common meal and enjoy different kinds of artistic performances. Sisingaan dancing is an art form developed to entertain guests during these rituals and the article demonstrates how the dance is weaved into a specific conceptual universe.

The dance introduces the child to the adult world and dramatises certain cosmological principles of inclusion and exclusion. Central artefacts in the ritual are the wooden lions that are used as vehicles for the children to ride upon. These lions represent potentially destructive desires that are necessary to control in order to initiate a religious life. To understand the intrinsic meaning of the event, the analysis puts the significance of these wooden lions in the centre of attention.

To read the whole article, click this ramatloka (portable documen format).

Kantunkeun Balesan

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