Richard Fox, More Than Words : Transforming Script, Agency, and Collective Life in Bali, Cornell University Press, september 2018
Grounded in ethnographic and archival research on the Indonesian island of Bali, More Than Words challenges conventional understandings of textuality and writing as they pertain to the religious traditions of Southeast Asia. Through a nuanced study of Balinese script as employed in rites of healing, sorcery, and self-defense, Richard Fox explores the aims and desires embodied in the production and use of palm-leaf manuscripts, amulets, and other inscribed objects.
Balinese often attribute both life and independent volition to manuscripts and copperplate inscriptions, presenting them with elaborate offerings. Commonly addressed with personal honorifics, these script-bearing objects may become partners with humans and other sentient beings in relations of exchange and mutual obligation. The question is how such practices of « the living letter » may be related to more recently emergent conceptions of writing—linked to academic philology, reform Hinduism, and local politics—which take Balinese letters to be a symbol of cultural heritage, and a neutral medium for the transmission of textual meaning. More than Words shows how Balinese practices of apotropaic writing—on palm-leaves, amulets, and bodies—challenge these notions, and yet coexist alongside them. Reflecting on this coexistence, Fox develops a theoretical approach to writing centered on the premise that such contradictory sensibilities hold wider significance than previously recognized for the history and practice of religion in Southeast Asia and beyond.
Voir : http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140106255130&fa=author&person_id=5894#content
The Balinese Digital Library
Almost all of the writings in Balinese were digitized and preserved here in 2011 by the Internet Archive from their major library in Denpasar, Bali. A official in the cultural ministry said that this collection is « 90% of all writings in Balinese. » Most of the Balinese literature is written on palm leaves, or Lontar. Some were not digitized because of the culturally sensitive materials they contain. This makes the Balinese the first to have their complete literature online and available for free.
Bali has a rich tradition of literature that dates back several hundreds years. Balinese writings encompass the ancient literary texts composed in the old Javanese language of Kawi and Sanskrit; many based on the famous Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The island’s literary works were mostly recorded on dried and treated palm leaves. The writings were incised in both sides of the leaf with a sharp knife and the script is then blackened with soot. The leaves are held and linked together by a string that passes through the central holes and knotted at the outer ends.
The lontar manuscripts range from ordinary texts to Bali’s most sacred writings. They include texts on religion, holy formulae, rituals, family genealogies, law codes, treaties on medicine (usadha), arts and architecture, calendars, prose, poems and even magic. Many lontar manuscripts contain information on important issues such as medicines and village regulations that are used as daily guidance.
Voir la collection de manuscrits sur lontars : https://archive.org/details/Bali&tab=collection