Of jars and gongs: Two keys to Ot Danum Dayak cosmology

Raymond Corbey

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issueScientificpeer-review


This book deals with the traditional ritual art of Ot Danum Dayak subsistence farmers from a stretch of tropical rainforest in the hearth of Borneo. Together with the Ngaju, their neighbours to the south, they glories in one of the most elaborate secondary mortuary rites in the world.

Much of their art depicts the journey of the soul of the deceased through a richly variegated spirit world. Heirloom jars and bronze gongs were as omnipresent in their art, ritual and cosmology as in their real-life exchanges. They contributing substantially to the identity of both humans and spirits.

The present publication offers a comparative analysis of various Ot Danum ritual objects. It draws on a long tradition of ethnographic writing on the area stretching back to the mid-19th century, mainly by German and Swiss Protestant missionaries and Dutch colonials.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages88
JournalLeiden: Zwartenkot Art Books
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Ot danum
  • ritual
  • cosmology
  • art


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