Architecture, especially funerary architecture, is ritual materialized and perfected.
Posts Tagged ‘funeral’
I’m working great guns on my manuscript and the associated Book Proposal for publishers that I’m sending out in the next week. The book has a working title of Deathpower: Buddhism’s Ritual Imagination in Cambodia, though the only thing I really care about in there is the word “Deathpower.”
I’m also teaching and doing other stuff. Did I mention the kids had Spring Break last week and so were home all week while I was teaching, and then my eldest got some sort of pukey-flu that kept him home yesterday, too?
While I do that, I’m not writing on Sihanouk’s funeral, yet. I did promise to do so, and do plan on it. In the meantime, let me recommend the single-best web-coverage in English I’ve found on the funeral, including day-to-day coverage and reports, and collections of newspaper links, over at LTO Cambodia. LTO stands for Long Time Observer, and his stories, photos, and commentary are worth regular attention.
- 8-year-old dies after explosion at cremation in Cambodia
- Alison In Cambodia blogs summer fieldwork
- Baphuon Reconstruction Completed!
- Pansukula for Chea Vichea in France
- Professor Sorpong Peou discovers his father is alive, ater 35 years.
Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post on Trent Walker’s new blog and videos of Smot performances, comes today’s article in the Phnom Penh Post about a new documentary film project on the art. Neang Kavich has apparently produced a short film on the subject. Disappointingly, the article doesn’t bother to indicate any way to view the film or contact the maker.
Neang Kavich spent six years studying music at Cambodian Living Arts and is now a first-year student of film at Limkokwing University.
This combination of knowledge prompted him to make a 15-minute documentary on smot with the aim of educating Cambodians about the art form and teaching them not to be afraid when they hear the chants.
And Trent’s releasing lots of new video on his blog. My favorite (in spite of some video-synch problems), is his glorious translation and rendition of the Final words of the Buddha, embedded below the break: Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve known Trent since about 2005, if I remember correctly, and since meeting him I’ve never stopped being impressed. He’s a truly dedicated student, a devoted disciple of his teacher, Prum Ut, who passed away last year.
Trent studied the traditional singing style of Smot (ស្មូត្រ) with Prum Ut in Kompong Speu province, through the auspices of Cambodia Living Arts; I was lucky enough to travel with CLA on a few tours and met Prum Ut and his fellow teachers and students.
Trent composed this song in the traditional ‘7-syllable’ (ពាក្យប្រាំពីរ), for his Guru. Watch it and try not to be touched. I dare you.
I raise these hands up to you,
Teacher, guru, of this song,
This melody, sung so long
Ago, before the Bo tree.
In your kind home you taught me
To chant Pali reverently,
Treat books with care, so gently,
And to daily humbly pray
To the Three Jewels, our teachers
And all creatures, ’til the day
You and I must fade away,
Die and decay, chasing peace.
Here is the first video of the entire performance (9 videos total).
He has his own blog, which you should read, and which I’ve added to the blogroll below.
The National Museum in Phnom Penh has received 4 new pre-Angkorean Statues:
“There are two sculptures of the Buddha and two male deities. The sculptures are very outstanding in terms of historical and artistic quality. The standing Buddha is one of the best we have, truly a masterpiece of Khmer art.”
The remains of King Le Du Thong (1679-1731) was reburied earlier this week in a ceremony mixing traditional and contemporary practices. The remains of the king were uncovered in the middle of the last century and were housed in the Vietnamese History Museum until reburial. [link]
The Phnom Penh Post’s “This week in history” feature includes an article on Pol Pot’s death and cremation back in 1998.
Worth checking out.
Lots of good new books coming on on Buddhism and death, many of which involved Jacqueline Stone and Bryan Cuevas in some capacity. Here is an excerpt of a review on the book Death and the afterlife in Japanese Buddhism, edited by Stone and Mariko Namba Walter (empahses mine):
Japan is so successfully ecumenical, the various religions of Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam happily living side by side, that one is tempted to doubt Japanese belief in any of them.
Adding to this perhaps doubtful impression is the fact that religions here have been assigned various nonreligious tasks. Shinto has authority over most marriages and the comings of age of the resultant children, Christianity seems to have been awarded domain over exotic foreign-style marriages, and Buddhism has been given death.
Whether this last is true or not, the popular impression is that Buddhism takes on the responsibilities of both funeral rites and notions about the afterlife. Quoted is a reply to a question as to a family’s Buddhist sectarian affiliation: “I don’t know. No one in our household has died yet.”
There are reasons why Buddhism is thought responsible for the dead and for the means through which it got that way. One is that when Buddhism was introduced in Japan it already possessed a systematic doctrine, an institutional organization and a fully formed ritual repertoire, unequaled by any other religious tradition in Japan — just the thing to handle something as socially important as funerals.
Another reason is Buddhism’s own compelling teachings about the afterlife and the perceived efficacy of its funeral ties as well as its capacity to absorb religious elements from other beliefs. Shinto kami could be recast as Buddhas and bodhisattvas, all of them displaying the reassurance and comfort that death demands.
One yet further reason for Buddhism’s identification with the dying and the dead is that it had already provided itself with a class of religious specialists perceived as capable of managing the dangers and defilements of death, and of mediating between this world the next. The Buddhist priest thus came fully equipped.
A great example of the sort of dead body politics I’ve been discussing with my students in my “How To Do Things With Dead People” class this semester, the Muslim Council Trust of India has announced that the Mumbai attackers should not be allowed to be buried as muslims.
I’m writing the ethnographic description chapter of my dissertation on Cambodian funerals, and was looking for images of the cremation of Suddhodana, Siddhartha Gotama’s father.
In Cambodia, the Buddha is often shown lighting the cremation fire, an image which occasionally causes some controversy, since it is understood that Buddhist monks are not to light fires, especially those for cooking (note the correlation between cremation fires and cooking fires).
And I found this lovely image from a Burmese mural of the Buddha presiding over Suddhodana’s funeral (but not explicitly lighting it.)