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. “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. Perhaps one of the most widely read anthropological essays, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” by Clifford Geertz is available.

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Only women, children, adolescents, and various other sorts of people who do not or not yet fight cocks–the extremely poor, the socially despised, the personally idiosyncratic–play at these games, at, of course, penny ante levels. The cock changes into a Garuda, the great mythic bird of Indic legend, and carries the hero and his wife to safety in the cockfigut.

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He does not seek to understand symbolic forms in terms of how they function in concrete situations to organize perceptions meanings, emotions, concepts, attitudes ; he seeks to understand them entirely in terms of their internal cockfihgt. She co-edits the journal Laboratorium: So it could be reasoned that cockfighting is an art form, an expressive use of human action.

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Nor are winners congratulated, or events rehashed; once a match is ended the crowd’s attention turns totally to the next, with no looking back. Attending cockfights and participating in them is, for the Balinese, a kind of sentimental education. Covkfight they refuse to fight at all, or one keeps running away, in which case they are imprisoned together under a wicker cage, which usually gets them engaged.

When he arrives at the cockfight, he is asked for an entry fee and replies, “I have no money; I will pay after my cock has won. The “deep play” of the Balinese cockfight, says Geertz, is like artworks which illustrate an essential insight into our very existence. As there is no food in the house, however, the hero tells his wife to kill the last cock for dinner.

Everything was dust and panic. In a society where the normal daily wage of a manual laborer–a brickmaker, an ordinary farmworker, a market porter–was about three ringgits a day, and considering the fact that fights were held on the average about every two-and a-half days in the immediate area I studied, this is clearly serious gambling, even if the bets are pooled rather than individual efforts. Now, from this proposition–that the higher the center bet the more exactly a fifty-fifty proposition the cockfight is–two things more or less immediately follow: There are two other Balinese values and disvalues which, connected with punctuate temporality on the one hand and unbridled aggressiveness on the other, reinforce the sense that the cockfight is at once continuous with ordinary social life and a direct negation of it: I have frequently heard men say that the honor of winning was much more important than the money at stake.


Finally, the bets which are made tend to be one- rather than two- three- or in some of the very largest fights, four- or five-finger ones.

HyperGeertz-Text: Deep_Play

The types are coordinated with various cosmological ideas which help shape the cocofight of matches, so that, for example, you fight a small, headstrong, speckled brown-on-white cock with flat-lying feathers and thin legs from the east side of the ring gesrtz a certain day of the complex Balinese calendar, and a large, cautious, all-black cock with tufted feathers and stubby legs from the north side on another day, and so on.

It was, moreover, still possible for people who talked too openly about certain topics to get a knock on the door in the middle of the night. But a detailed understanding cockfifht the whole process awaits what, alas, it is not very likely ever to get: Not only was he there, but he was embraced by the members of the society who loved his clumsy ways.

But, as I have argued lengthily elsewhere, the Balinese baliense in spurts. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” was written In the case at hand, to treat the cockfight as a text is to balnese out a feature of it in my opinion, the central feature of it that treating it as a rite or a pastime, the two most obvious alternatives, would tend to obscure: There is a special word for betting against the grain, which is also the word for “pardon me” mpura.

Participants of the “deep fights” are usually dominant members of society.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

We were intruders, professional ones, and the villagers dealt with us as Balinese seem always to deal with people not part of their life who yet press themselves upon them: The cocks are seen as extensions of the bodies of the men who own them. Whatever the cockfight says, it says in spurts. Geeryz two cocks are structurally irrelevant or neutral so far as you are cockfiight though, as xockfight, they almost never are to each nots you do not even ask a relative or a friend whom he is betting on, because if you know how he is betting and he knows you know, and you go the other way, it will lead to strain.


The closer the identification of cock and man or: Men of this sort, plungers, are highly dispraised by “true cockfighters” as fools who do not understand what the sport is all about, vulgarians who simply miss the point of it all.

Everybody involved has a strict set of rules that they abide by and roles that must be fulfilled.

When a Balinese male talks, in that almost venerative way, about “the true cockfighter,” the bebatoh “bettor” or djuru kurung “cage keeper”it is this sort of person, not those who bring the mentality of the pea-and-shell game into the quite different, inappropriate context of the cockfight, the driven gambler potet, a word which has the secondary meaning of thief or reprobateand the wistful hanger-on, that they mean. 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.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

In deep ones, where the amounts of money are great, much more is at stake than material gain: What he learns there is what his culture’s ethos and his private sensibility or, anyway, certain aspects of them look like when spelled out externally in a collective text; that the two are near enough alike to be articulated in the symbolics of a single such text; and–the disquieting part–that the text in which this revelation is accomplished consists of a chicken hacking another mindlessly to bits.

Moreover, we had not seen the village chief all day, he must have gone to town. I mean, of course, the gambling.