Reclaiming the Eclipsed Female in the Sacred

Thambiah, Shanthi and Chopil, Tijah Yok and Leong Yoke Lian, Rosalind (2018) Reclaiming the Eclipsed Female in the Sacred. Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia, 174 (2-3). pp. 264-290. ISSN 0006-2294, DOI

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This article examines an indigenous religion in Malaysia - that of the Semai of Kampung Chang, Sungai Gepai in Bidor, Perak - and expounds the changes in women's position in Semai cosmology, rituals, and roles. We show that the Bidor Semai religion is neither hierarchical nor egalitarian in terms of the position of women and men; rather, a much more complex situation exists. However, while male authority is becoming more prevalent, the existence of transmutable spirits and an ungendered creator allows men to actively participate, but does not give them religious power. However, due to outside pressure we are beginning to see a breakdown in these social features. The broader implication of reclaiming the female in the sacred is that it makes a strong social-justice argument for Semai women's rights and, by so doing, gives us a richer understanding of Semai connections to their land and their rights to that land.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: cosmology; myths; religious roles; rights to land; rituals; Semai; women
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Ms. Juhaida Abd Rahim
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2019 07:42
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2019 07:42

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