“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. Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. Clifford Geertz. The Raid. Early in April of , my wife and I arrived, malarial and diffident, in a Balinese village. Perhaps one of the most widely read anthropological essays, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” by Clifford Geertz is available.

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I have bet on the Unseen and won. This principle is extended logically. The ceremony consecrating a Brahmana priest, a matter of breath control, postural immobility, and vacant concentration upon the depths of being, displays a radically different, but to the Balinese equally real, property of social hierarchy–its reach toward the numinous transcendent. Participants of the “deep fights” are usually dominant members of society. I think that the word statues must be replaced with status in the 4th paragraph.

Set not in the matrix of the kinetic emotionality of animals, but in that of the static passionlessness of divine mentality, it expresses tranquillity not disquiet. 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. As there is no food in the house, however, the hero tells his wife to kill the last cock for dinner.

And in Wales, the so-called Welsh main followed an elimination pattern, along the lines of a present-day tennis tournament, winners proceeding to the next round. Nearly half the matches are relatively trivial, relatively uninteresting–in my borrowed terminology, “shallow”–affairs. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. One has only to learn how to gain access to them.

However, they have a deep identification with their cocks yes, with their cocks and “in identifying with his cock, the Balinese man is identifying not only with his ideal self, or even his penis, but also, and at the same time, with what he most fears, hates, and ambivalence being what it is, is fascinated by- the powers of darkness”. You cannot ascend the status ladder by winning cockfights; you cannot, as an individual, really ascend it at all.


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. He even notes that the wordplay where a cock is both a rooster and a penis exists in Balinese just as it does in English.

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Cultural Reader: Clifford Geertz: “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” – summary and review

So the cockfight is at once a raging ball of animal chaos and a deeply regulated sociological entity. But they mainly look on the monetary aspects of the cockfight as self-balancing, a matter of just moving money around, circulating it among a fairly well-defined group of serious cockfighters. Just which of these considerations leads to which, in what order, and by what mechanisms, is another matter–one I have attempted to shed some light on in the general discussion.

For the consecration ceremony, see V. Belo New York, originally published inpp.

There is nothing specifically Balinese, of course, about deepening significance with money, as Whyte’s description of corner boys in a working-class district of Boston demonstrates: For Balinese cosmological ideas more generally see Belo, ed. An incestuous couple is forced to wear pig yokes over their necks and crawl to a pig trough and eat with their mouths there.

The policeman retreated in rather total disarray. By the same token, you rarely get two cocks from the same group, even more rarely from the same subfaction, and virtually never from the same sub-subfaction which would be in most cases one extended family fighting.

He does not seek to understand symbolic forms in terms of how they function in concrete situations to organize perceptions meanings, emotions, concepts, attitudes ; he seeks to understand them entirely in terms of their internal structure.


The really important wins and losses are seen mostly in other terms, and the general attitude toward wagering is not any hope of cleaning up, of making a killing addict gamblers again exceptedbut that of the horseplayer’s prayer: Jaya Prana, the subject of a Balinese Uriah myth, responds to the lord who has offered him the loveliest of six hundred servant girls: Gambling debts, which can get quite large on a rather short-term basis, are always to friends, never to enemies, structurally speaking.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Everyone in the village knew we had fled like everyone else. As in more familiar exercises in fockfight reading, one can start anywhere in a culture’s repertoire of forms and end up anywhere else.

Along with everything else that the Balinese see in fighting cocks–themselves, their social order, abstract hatred, gewrtz, demonic power–they also see the archetype of status virtue, the arrogant, resolute, honor-mad player with real fire, the ksatria prince. The poet’s job is not to tell you what happened, but what happens: As we wandered around, uncertain, wistful, eager to please, people seemed to look right through us with a gaze focused several cocfight behind us on some more actual stone or tree.

We may have moved away from the type of culturalism that ignores the political and economic context, but it seems pretty banal to point this out, at least in American anthropology French anthropology being another story.

Finally, the bets which are made ccokfight to be one- rather than two- three- or in some of the very largest fights, four- or five-finger ones.