"trance dancer, bali"

Published December 7, 1941


Trance Dancer from HARLEM as seen by hirschfeld. Lithograph, 1941



The concept of spiritual possession exists in many religions. Balinese religion is an integration of Hindu-Buddhist and shamanist beliefs, characterized by a regular cycle of temple festivals – featuring elaborate food offerings and other ceremonies as needed for rites of passage, healing, or crisis situations. Music and dance play a major role in Balinese religion, as does trance. Trance dance is practiced as a way of being in the world and serves as medium to satisfy the supernatural beings. Although the Balinese value dignity, decorum, and deliberateness, in a trance dance, dancers are possessed by a spirit in which they perform acts such a devouring live chicks and attacking themselves with daggers while speaking with the spirit’s voice, giving instructions for ceremonies, finding lost objects or helping the body to heal.

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