Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk by Dr Lia Genovese at the National Museum on 22 August 2019.
SPIRITS OF THE STONE: From landlocked Laos to Insular Malaysia
Date: 22 August 2019
Time: 10 am
Venue: National Museum Bangkok Auditorium
Stone jars and menhirs are expressions of a wider megalithic art, the former sculpted from a single boulder and the latter generally set vertically into the ground, plain and undecorated. The 2,000 or so extant Laotian jars date to the Iron Age (300 BCE-300 CE), while the approximately 200 surviving menhirs of Sabah province have an estimated age of 300 years. Notwithstanding the material differences – from quantities and age, to rock type, decoration and relevance for present-day communities – the two sets of megaliths present some striking common features, not least their common association with supernatural powers. If a stone in Sabah can become bad-tempered when ignored by passers-by, in Laos moving a jar from its original location can exact retribution, with tragic results. This presentation stems from data collected for several years during fieldwork in the Laotian provinces of Xieng Khouang and Luang Prabang and in Malaysia’s Sabah province.