Popular Myths & Madura

Oct 3rd, 2008, in IM Posts, Opinion, by

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39 Comments on “Popular Myths & Madura”

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  1. avatar itinerantman says:
    March 13th, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    you have an excellent sense of history timdog-of india and indonesia. i know india-am discovering indonesia-have no incisive comments on indonesia yet but can comment on india-cheers

  2. avatar ET says:
    March 14th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    re Madurese women

    A close relative of mine happens to be married to a woman of Madurese descent. She doesn’t fit the Madurese stereotype – as reported – at all. She is a soft spoken, very polite and patient woman but with a strong will and ready to make sacrifices to get what she wants. Keras kepala but very beautiful too. But I never heard any reports of the alleged sexual prowesses Madurese women are famous for. If so then it certainly has been kept a jealously guarded secret for the rest of our family. Next time I’ll see him I will ask casually about rumput patimah and watch his reaction.

  3. avatar ET says:
    March 14th, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Leaving the fun and in fact the most humane part of timdog’s article aside, reading the rest of it as well as the subsequent comments one cannot help but wonder what goes on in the Indonesian – or should I say Malay – mind. Sectarian hate and tribal warfare – horrible as they may be – are one thing and may to a certain extent be rationalized. But why the terrible mutilations of the dead bodies and the sadistical disrespect for a slain opponent? Remember the video on YouTube about the killings of the Ahmadis in Cikeusik. Not only is this the case in large scale group or mob violence, the local newspapers almost daily report run-of-the-mill cases of murder for the most trivial of reasons followed by severe mutilations of the victim’s bodies. Last month in Bali a family of three – husband, wife and their 9 year old child – has been brutally murdered by their driver and his wife, apparently out of resentment or spite because their employers didn’t want them to stay in their house. The skulls of the victims were completely shattered by repeated blunt force trauma to their heads, while their daughter was found decapitated 10 meters away. Now what inspires people to take revenge on a 9 year old child in such an inhuman way because he/she didn’t get along with its parents?
    Your comments are welcome.

  4. avatar timdog says:
    March 15th, 2012 at 5:23 am

    @Itinerantman – thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

    @ET – I think we ought to be a little careful about making comments about the “Indonesian mind”, still less “the Malay mind” (good lord old chap, another peg, I say, and go and give the punkah puller a tickle with your Penang lawyer, the bugger’s fallen asleep by the looks of things – 2012, did you say? How time flies…)

    “Terrible mutilations of the dead bodies and the sadistical disrespect for a slain opponent” are pretty universal things, it seems, across cultures and across ages.
    Whites and natives – cowboys n injins – both did unspeakable things to each other’s corpses in the wild west; Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs debased themselves horribly in their treatment of one another’s remains as they passed east and west across the subcontinent in the late 1940s, and hell, American soldiers apparently like to piss on dead Afghans and collect their ears.

    Actually, in the Indonesian context it’s the first part – “Sectarian hate and tribal warfare” – that are more worthy of discussion, rather than what people start to do to corpses once those things are manifest. That stuff is a given.

    I mean, was there ever a restrained, respectful lynch mob anywhere?

  5. avatar ET says:
    March 15th, 2012 at 6:58 am

    and hell, American soldiers apparently like to piss on dead Afghans and collect their ears.

    But do they also cut off children’s heads (remember Sulawesi)?

  6. avatar ET says:
    March 15th, 2012 at 7:22 am

    … and get away with it with a ridiculously light sentence?

  7. avatar Oigal says:
    March 15th, 2012 at 9:32 am

    and get away with it with a ridiculously light sentence

    Indeed and yet the counter reaction to alleged pornography, witness the nonsensical “Peter Pan” case would suggest a national case of Schizophrenia. Seriously, the pious rantings and moralizing is beyond rational discourse when it is common nay mandatory for every successful Indonesian to have a mistress or fling on the side. It is common knowledge some Indonesian Villages have turned this bizarre national obsession into a cottage industry.

    What causes this curious state of affairs where you bash a mans head in with a rock and be hailed a hero in your own village but can spend years in prison because some twat stole a private video of your and your girlfriend? Well I am not sure but the medical journals seem to indicate:

    Researchers and clinicians believe that dissociation is a very common and naturally occurring defense mechanism, which results from early childhood trauma and is characteristically a result of severe, and prolonged occurrences of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

    Certainly the defence mechanism bit fits as it must be pretty near impossible to justify the slaughter of innocents in the national mind so “Quick look over there, shiny thing and people having sex”

    Oh and speaking of slaughters, had some guests over on the weekend and played the movie “Balibo” talk about dissociation disorder.

  8. avatar ET says:
    March 16th, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Whites and natives – cowboys n injins – both did unspeakable things to each other’s corpses in the wild west; Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs debased themselves horribly in their treatment of one another’s remains as they passed east and west across the subcontinent in the late 1940s, and hell, American soldiers apparently like to piss on dead Afghans and collect their ears.

    timdog, I guess you are right about mutilation of corpses in group related violence being a cross-cultural phenomenon. I only thought I saw a pattern here in SE-Asia. After all the Dayaks, the Bataks, the Moluccans and of course also the Papuans all had beheadings on their menu. Maybe I also read too many cerpen. Penggal kepala seems to be an often recurring theme in this kind of stories.

  9. avatar timdog says:
    March 16th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    ET, I’m pretty sure it is a cross-cultural phenomenon – once the mob is formed, I don’t really think there’s much point in looking at what they do to the bodies as some kind of “cultural expression”, unless they are a bone fide “primitive tribe” with specific ritual practices.

    It seems that once we start killing people we rapidly invent our own “rituals” – cutting off ears, genitals or heads apparently being long-standing favourites. You could possibly even argue (and I’m not too sure about this myself; just putting it out there) that there’s a very faint echo of it in the practice of collecting “trophies” from killed animals).

    You could be forgiven for thinking this is some kind of “Indonesian” phenomenon, but then you could very rapidly come up with similar examples from all over Asia – OK, then, so it’s an Asian phenomenon. But we don’t have to go too far to find the same thing in Africa, the Americas, and, not too long ago, Europe

    It’s why the mob formed in the first place that’s the question, and the one that is relevant in the Indonesian case.

    Oh, and chopping off heads is a recurring theme in a certain kind of lurid pulp fiction, not just in Indonesia; it always has been. It seems, like cannibalism, to titilate something in us…

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