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Provides the first performance ethnography of Malay martial arts
Offers the first ethnographic account of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order
Facilitates a new understanding of how magic, religion and sorcery are embodied in the performance and practice of Malay martial arts
Demonstrates a deep and wide knowledge of Malay culture and society (including its arcane and secret domains) and an expert practitioner’s knowledge not simply of Malay silat but of Asian martial arts generally
Is a major contribution to the study of Malay culture, to the comparative study of martial arts, and to the anthropology of dance, magic and ritual based upon ten years fieldwork in Southeast Asia
This is the first in-depth study of the Malay martial art, silat, and the first ethnographic account of the Haqqani Islamic Sufi Order. Drawing on 12 years of research and practice in Malaysia, Singapore, and England, social anthropologist and martial arts expert D.S. Farrer considers Malay silat through the transnational Sufi silat group called Seni Silat Haqq, an off-shoot of the Haqqani-Naqshbandi Sufi Order.
This account combines theories from the anthropology of art, embodiment, enchantment, and performance to show how war magic and warrior religion amalgamate in traditional Malay martial arts, where practitioners distance themselves from “becoming animal” or going into trance, preferring a practice of spontaneous bodily movement by summoning the power of Allah. Silat and Sufism are revealed through the social dramas of 40-day boot-camps where Malay and European practitioners endeavor to become shadows of the Prophet, only to have their faith tested through a ritual ordeal of boiling oil. The unseen realm and magical embodiment is further approached through an account of Malay deathscapes where moving through the patterns of silat summons the spirits of ancestral heroes.
Those interested in Malaysia, Sufism, transnational Islam, and the study of religion, conversion, magic, sorcery, theatre and martial arts will find this book indispensable.
"the eagerly awaited monograph on the practice of silat" Joel S. Kahn
"No other work on silat has achieved this level of inside understanding" Roxana Waterson
Content Level »Research
Keywords »Anthropology - Europe - Haqqani-Naqshbandi - Islam - Martial arts - Nation - Performance studies - Phenomenology - Religion - Silat - Sociology of religion - Southeast Asia - Sufism - Transnational - War magic
Reflections.- Seni Silat Haqq Melayu: A Sufi Martial Art.- Silat: Art, Magic and Performance.- Echoes.- The Performance of Enchantment.- The Enchantment of Performance.- Doubles.- The Guru Silat.- Social and Aesthetic Drama.- Shadows.- Divination and Revelation.- Deathscapes of the Malay Martial Artist.