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The elaborate funeral ceremonies of many Austronesian peoples display their traditional arts in the form of song, dance, textile arts and representative statuary. The tau tau statues erected by the Toraja of Sulawesi in Indonesia, dramatically exemplify the representation of the deceased with statues of either cloth and bamboo or hardwood. This lecture will discuss the symbolic significance of these statues, linking them with the journey of the life-soul to the netherworld. The presentation will also confront the issue of Western appropriation of indigenous art and the decline of traditional belief and practice in contemporary society.
Anthropologist Eric Crystal has been researching contemporary Southeast Asia for over four decades. The focus of his research has been in minority communities of highland areas specially in Torajaland on the island of Sulawesi. His work has included publications on traditional ceremony and religion, depiction of traditional arts in film, audio and video media, and analysis of traditional agro-economic systems. He received his PhD in anthropology from UC Berkeley. Dr. Crystal served as Vice-Chair of the Berkeley Center for Southeast Asia Studies. He has taught at Berkeley, the Claremont Colleges and the Art Institute of San Francisco.
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