Drawing from literature and ethnography, this article attempts to distinguish the origin, social implications and main uses of prestige jars in Borneo. It suggests that to understand these differences in the societies of Borneo requires an understanding of how these objects are acquired and transmitted between families. The article considers the processes by which an object can become, with time, something other than what it had previously been. The term pusaka commonly used to describe these jars does not encompass other significant uses of the jars as it is often used narrowly to refer to heirloom jars, and broadly, to heirloom jars and sacred heirloom jars. These jars are also, and without being pusaka, ordinary jars of varying economic value, given and exchanged especially as marriage payments. The relative lack of coherence in the literature about their usage reflects their various and multiple functions as well as their changing role.
This research is based on several field trips carried out between 2002 and 2005. It has benefited from the financial and logistical support of the IRD, the CIFOR, the EHESS, the French Higher Education and Research Ministry and the JSPS. The author would like to thank Bernard Sellato, Kenneth Sillander and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and to Jane MacAvock and Safitri Widagdo for their help with the translation. He takes sole responsibility for any errors or omissions. The article is dedicated to the memory of Ucan Abi.
Topic: livelihoods,culture,social customs
Publication Year: 2014
Source: Indonesia and the Malay World 42(122): 62-87