Material Text Cultures

Jiří Jakl


Institute of Anthropology

Telephone:  0049 06221 54-15110



Heidelberg University
Institut of Anthropology
Voßstraße. 2, CATS building 4110, room 110.01.05
69115 Heidelberg

Research interests

I am interested in the use of script in pre-Islamic Java (before 1500 CE) and modern Hindu Bali, Indonesia. In particular, I study the ritual practice of imposing graphemes of Old Javanese and Balinese syllabaries on various (writing) supports, such as temple doors, ritual implements, but also on bodies of patients. Called nyāsa in Old Javanese, the economy of orthographic modes of expressing metaphysical concerns is ancient in the Javano-Balinese tradition, and can be traced at least to the 9th century CE. While grapheme visualization is the major technique of the imposition, graphemes can also be imposed on objects through the medium of sanctified water or written directly on them by brush, reed-pen or any other writing instrument. Part of my project is to establish a database of rerajahan ("mystical drawings"), orthographic diagrams still used in Bali by traditional healers (balian) and Śaiva priests. Orthographic diagrams are either imposed on the bodies of patients as a specific form of a healing practice or used by the Śaiva priests as a form of self-purification before they embody deity to be worshipped.



Recently published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters
Published book reviews
Forthcoming book
Published non-refereed article


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