“Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is one of Clifford Geertz’s most influential articles which illustrates not only the meaning of a given. clifford geertz: “deep play: notes on the balinese cockfight” summary and review to start form the bottom line, clifford geertz’s essential notion expressed in. The essay by anthropologist Clifford Geertz, which first appeared in his best- known book The Interpretation of Cultures, has been published in Russian as a.

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For deep fights there are no absolute upper limits, though there are of course practical ones, and there are a great many legend-like tales of great Duel-in-the-Sun combats between lords and princes in classical times for cockfighting has always been as much an elite concern as a popular onefar deeper than anything anyone, even aristocrats, could produce today anywhere in Bali.

The higher the individual bets center and outside, the shorter the outside bet odds will tend to be, and the more betting there will be over-all. Today, a few special occasions aside, the newer rectitude makes so open a statement of the connection between the excitements of collective life and those of blood sport impossible, but, less directly expressed, the connection itself remains intimate and intact. And as to follow Weber rather than Bentham the imposition of meaning on life is the major end and primary condition of human existence, that access of significance more than compensates for the economic costs involved.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Geertz distinguishes “deep fights”, with high wages, and “shallow fights”, usually with low wages of both bxlinese and prestige.

Or, if you take the extremes, for very large fights, those with center bets over a hundred ringgits the ratio is 1 to 1 seven and seven ; for very small fights, those under forty ringgits, it is 1. In any case, the attempt to deprovincialize the concept of art is but part of the general anthropological conspiracy to deprovincialize all important social concepts–marriage, religion.

If one takes the cockfight, or note other collectively sustained symbolic structure, as a means of “saying something of something” to invoke a famous Aristotelian tagthen one is faced with a problem not in social mechanics but social semantics. But if one splits the figures at sixty ringgits center bets, the ratios turn out to be 1.

Gambling debts, which can get quite large on a rather short-term basis, are always to friends, never to enemies, structurally speaking. Occasionally, if the cocks are clearly mismatched, there may be no upward movement at all, or even movement down the scale to four-to-three, three-to-two, very, very ntes to two-to-one, a shift which is accompanied by a declining number of bets as a shift upward is accompanied by an increasing number.

The Balinese never do anything in a simple way that they can contrive to do in a complicated one, and to this generalization cockfight wagering is nnotes exception.

Saturday, May 7, Clifford Geertz: Logically, the transfer could, of course, as well go the other way; but, like most of the rest of us, the Balinese are a great deal more interested in understanding men than they are in understanding cocks. When he found his voice again he asked, approximately, what in the devil did we think we were doing there.

The Balinese cockfight is, as Geertz puts it, a way of playing with fire without getting burned. Cockfighting is for those who are involved notfs the everyday politics of prestige as well, not for youth, women, subordinates, and so forth. See above, Chapter The use of the, to Europeans, “natural” visual idiom for perception–“see,” “watches,” and so forth–is more than usually misleading here, for the fact that, as mentioned earlier, Balinese follow the progress of the fight as much perhaps, as fighting cocks are actually rather hard to see except as blurs of motion, more with their bodies as with their eyes, moving their limbs, heads, and trunks in gestural mimicry of the cocks’ maneuvers, means that much of the individual’s experience of the fight is kinesthetic rather than visual.


The less an economic and the more a “status” view of gaming will be involved, and the “solider” the citizens who will be gaming.

This connection of cockfighting with markets and market sellers is very old, as, among other things, their conjunction in inscriptions [ R. The Hague,index under toh. It is a society’s manner of speaking to itself about itself, and is therefore of prime interest for the anthropologist.

A man backing the favorite, and thus considering giving odds if he can get them short enough, indicates the fact by crying out the color-type of that cock–“brown,” “speckled,” or whatever. A goddess descends from heaven and takes the girl up to the skies with her. Cockfighting is a fight for statues, with bets serving only to symbolize the risk.

Its mythology, art, ritual, social organization, patterns of child rearing, forms of law, even styles of trance, have all been microscopically examined for traces of that elusive substance Jane Belo called ” The Balinese Temper.

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The lore about spurs is extensive–they are sharpened only at eclipses and the dark of the moon, should be kept out of the sight of women, and so forth.

As the three of us came tumbling into the courtyard, his wife, who had apparently been through this sort of thing before, whipped out a table, a tablecloth, three chairs, and three cups of tea, and we all, without any explicit communication whatsoever, sat down, commenced to sip tea, and sought to compose ourselves. In the cockfight, then, the Balinese forms and discovers his temperament and his society’s temper at the same time. And, cockfiggt, what statistics I have tend to bear this out.

Enveloped elsewhere in a haze of etiquette, a thick cloud geertx euphemism and ceremony, gesture and allusion, they are here expressed in only the thinnest disguise of an animal mask, a mask cljfford in fact demonstrates them far more effectively than it conceals them.

Almost nobody greeted us; but nobody scowled or said anything unpleasant to us either, which would have been almost as satisfactory. Each match is precisely like the others in general pattern: Almost all matches are sociologically relevant.

What sets the cockfight apart from the ordinary course of life, lifts it from the realm of everyday practical affairs, and surrounds it with an aura of enlarged importance is not, as functionalist sociology would have it, that it reinforces status discriminations such reinforcement is hardly necessary in a society where every act proclaims thembut that it bapinese a metasocial commentary upon the whole matter of assorting human beings into fixed hierarchical ranks and then organizing the major part of collective existence around that assortment.

When the people see this, they make the hero king and his wife queen and they return as nootes to earth.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight and Clifford Geertz by amiya moretta on Prezi

You must bet on cocks of your own group aside from mere baliinese considerations, for if you do not people generally will say, “What! But no one’s status really changes. On the established anthropological principle, When in Rome, my wife and I decided, only slightly less instantaneously than everyone else, that the thing to do was run too. That is, if he shouts gasal, “five,” he wants the underdog at five-to-four or, for him, four-to-five ; if he shouts “four,” he wants it at cckfight again, he putting up the “three”if “nine” at nine-to-eight, and so on.


With bets fairly even in the case of a deep fights, financial gain is not the center of the event, but rather everything which is expressed in the concept of “status”. But, here, that present is clifofrd into a string of flashes, some more bright than others, but all of them disconnected, aesthetic quanta.

Except for unimportant, small-bet fights on the question of fight “importance,” see below spur affixing is usually done by someone other than the owner. The cocks may be surrogates for their owners’ personalities, animal mirrors of psychic form, but the cockfight is–or more exactly, deliberately is made to be–a simulation of the social matrix, the involved system of crosscutting, overlapping, highly corporate groups–villages, kingroups, irrigation societies, temple congregations, “castes”–in which its devotees live.

Red pepper is stuffed down their beaks and up their anuses to give them spirit. That this is the case is apparent from mere inspection, from the Balinese’s own analysis of the matter, and from what more systematic observations I was able to collect. He may, if he is not especially well-to-do, not even be the major contributor, though, if only to show that he is not involved in any chicanery, he must be a significant one.

Cockfights tetadjen; sabungan are held in a ring about fifty feet square. To this general pattern, the cockfight, entirely of, by, and for men women–at least Balinese women–do not even watchis the most striking exception.

Its function, if you want to call it that, is interpretive: And most curiously, and as we shall see most revealingly, where the first is always, without exception, even money, the second, equally without exception, is never such. And finally, there are those, the really substantial members of the community, the solid citizenry around whom local life revolves, who fight in the larger fights and bet on them around the side.

These rules, together with the developed lore of cocks and cockfighting which accompanies them, are written down in palm leaf manuscripts lontar; rontal passed on from generation to generation as part of the general legal and cultural tradition of the villages. After a fight has ended and the emotional debris is cleaned away–the bets paid, the curses cursed, the carcasses possessed–seven, eight, perhaps even a dozen men slip negligently into the ring with a cock and seek to find there a logical opponent for it.

Our host of five minutes leaped instantly to our defense, producing an impassioned description of who and what we were, so detailed and so accurate that it was cockgight turn, having barely communicated with a living human being save my landlord and the village chief for more than a week, to be astonished.