My other projects at work include going to lots of meetings, finalizing programs for the autumn exhibition on Afghanistan (I am very excited about the possibility of Rory Stewart coming to give a lecture, details still TBD), working on grant proposals, and trying to set up an online videocasting process for the Society for Asian Art's Friday lecture series, which begins on August 29, with our new director Jay Xu giving a talk on "Mysterious Creatures, Towering Trees and Lofty Figures in
Sacrifice: The Lost Civilization at Sanxingdui, China." One could spend a lifetime studying the various fascinating burial practices and attendant magical creatures found in the arts all across Asia.
I have been working at home to upload some of my Bali images--please take a look on my Flickr site. I will write some posts related to these sets.
Some of the most indelible memories of my time in Bali circle back to the cremation ceremony. There were 1000s of folks with cameras there besides me and many of them got great shots. There is a fascinating official press blog about the events to be found at http://pelebon2008.blogspot.com/
Of particular interest are links to some YouTube videos of such things as the artisans creating the tower (bade). You can go directly to the YouTube clip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvUmbj_ohkA
The other video link from the official blog is this very slick ad
promoting the cremation ceremony apparently to encourage tourism for the event. This is an interesting approach to marketing--come see us burn our dead, it's beautiful, peaceful, harmonious, sacred. Funny thing is that the video looks nothing like what I experienced. I am not saying that the actual event lacked in majesty or sacredness, in its way, but it wasn't so clean and controlled as the video characterizes. All for the better.
For a sense of the chaos and excitement of the actual event, better to look at videos such as this one posted by Schooo1980
of the bulls being carried down the main street in Ubud to the temple.
Or this one posted by putrasinggih of the flames in full force. Listen to the master of ceremonies, who switches to English and asks the crowd to calm down so that they can get the fire hose in position to dampen the flames.
Of course, these videos are only of the most public part of the cremation activities. I know that there were probably many quiet, private moments shared only by the family, quietly chatting while making offerings, praying in small groups, and the like.
To see my humble assortment of photos of the cremation, please click here http://www.flickr.com/photos/clearwaters/sets/72157606589742137/
I have lots of video footage, which is less accessible to me until we upgrade our video editing station at work. But in a month or so I should have some clips of this footage that I will share on YouTube.