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Musical Journeys in Sumatra$
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Margaret Kartomi

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036712

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036712.001.0001

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Changes in the Lament Dances in Aceh

Changes in the Lament Dances in Aceh

Phô as a Symbol of Female Identity

(p.293) 12 Changes in the Lament Dances in Aceh
Musical Journeys in Sumatra

Margaret Kartomi

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines changes in Acehnese lament dances, with particular emphasis on the ways in which aspects of religion, ethnicity, class, gender, sociopolitical conditions, and the activities of some remarkable individual women have enabled the survival of song-dances such as manoe pocuk, malelang, and phô over the past three to four centuries. It also considers how individual women have transformed the meaning and style of phô to become a symbol of female Acehnese identity. The manoe pocuk, malelang, and phô song-dances are performed at life-event ceremonies such as weddings, baby thanksgivings, circumcisions, and vow fulfillment ceremonies. A shaman assists the host of the feast to engage the services of a group of singer-dancers by uttering invocations before the betel-nut preparations are exchanged with the group's leader. The chapter shows how references to the indigenous religion and Hinduism are made in some performances of all three song-dances, but with phrases and references added that reflect the people's strong adherence to Islam.

Keywords:   lament dance, Aceh, indigenous religion, women, song-dance, manoe pocuk, malelang, phô, Hinduism, Islam

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