Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hospitality of color: Healing presence in ceremonial Balinese textiles
by Bjork, Pamela Kay, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012, 270; 3551594
Abstract (Summary)

Bali, known as Island of the Gods, is where day and night, light and shadow, and visible and invisible realms are of almost equal measure. Art and religion are intertwined and create an ethos of reverence and relationship between matter and spirit. Like the process of weaving—inspiration and ordered thought made visible—the loom is threaded with cross-cultural mythological musings on threads, webs and weavers: the spinner Aphrodite, the sutratman or "thread-spirit" Hindu doctrine, the Egyptian Goddess Neith, Ariadne's labyrinth, the Greek Fates, and the spider. The multihued and diverse elements of Balinese religion and ritual are woven throughout the text to both color and contextualize the fabric of this dissertation, to suggest that matter evokes changes in states of consciousness and awareness.

Explored is the dance of light and shadow between two mythological figures, Barong and Rangda, who color the fabric of Balinese belief. Responding to the hospitable embrace and generous offerings of countless villagers, entranced and witch-like Rangda dances the demons of the dark while the magnificent lion-faced Barong demonstrates the radiance of the Gods. Agents of wonder, they invoke the human capacity of awareness and awakening; their encounter bridges the gap between chaos and clarity, darkness and light. The sacred cepuk and polèng textiles they wear possess and mitigate supernatural and healing powers in order to transform human experience.

This dissertation offers a textual fabric of threads from the fields of mythology, depth psychology, aesthetics, Balinese ethnography, and personal reflection. It is a sensuous endeavor: Eros and Logos conjoined, an ensoulment of word and photographic image colors its pages. Explored is the nature of collecting, or sacred shopping to bring the Gods home. Imaginal dialogues of grandmother and granddaughter Balinese geringsing cloths are invoked by entering a receptive psychic space of the shaman and healer where stones talk and statues walk, their images and words gifts. Threads of destiny, magic spells, and fibers of protection have been woven together with welcoming gestures offered guests and strangers; multihued strands of the "thread-spirit" doctrine create these fabrics of myth that heal and protect the Balinese.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Slattery, Dennis Patrick
Commitee: Barnes, Roger, Pye, Lori
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Design
Keywords: Aesthetics, Bali, Ceremonial textiles, Depth psychology, Ethnography, Healing presence, Indonesia, Mythology
Publication Number: 3551594
ISBN: 978-1-267-89470-0
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