Chams Clichés (6) – Yiey Yah, High Priestess of Possession ceremonies

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March 2006, Phum Phal (Kandal, Cambodia). Yiey Yah, possessed by Neang Champa So. © Emiko Stock.

March 2006, Phum Phal (Kandal, Cambodia).Yiey Yah, possessed by Neang Champa So. © Emiko Stock.

With all her delicate care, Yiey Yah places a narrow candle on her bay si with her long thin hands. The offering is made of a young banana tree trunk section and decorated with bright colours. It is now in its final shape following a long morning of preparations for the upcoming ceremony. The small-frame woman straightens her krama on her silver hair and hurries between the houses while cautiously carrying the precious gift to be placed as soon as possible in the specially built shelter. In the fading coolness of dawn, she grumbles, “We are getting late this morning. At this rate, we are going to have to leave the offerings in the paddy field in the middle of the night!” The graceful 80-year-old grandmother regularly performs in possession ceremonies, which are intended to express gratitude for the recovery of a sick person. Continue reading

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Salīh. A Cham Buffalo Sacrifice: The how to *not* make an ethnographic movie.

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I guess that may come with the job description… As an ethnographer, I have to confess an absolute adoration for ethnographic movies. I would choose a Jean Rouch film over any Oscared documentary, anytime. I love that those films have – just like Cinema Vérité – this ‘’fly on the wall’’ approach. I love that they take the yellow brick road without being too sure of where it leads, and that the final destination aimed for is ‘’let’s-just-observe-and-deliver-the-thing-completely-raw-to-the-viewers’’.

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Exposing The Under-Exposed: family portraits on a mosque’ walls

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There are many – many – things I remember from any ceremony I attended in O’Russei village, a.k.a one of my offices, a.k.a one of my fieldwork centres. The Eid El Fitr in autumn 2007 was no exception, and I have transcribed a few – very few – notes from it here. On that particular day though there was something beside the ritual itself that I remembered: an exhibition of simple family pictures on the walls of the village mosque.  Continue reading