Clifford Geertz Deep Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight

1621 words 7 pages
The job of an anthropologist is complex. It requires a very diverse arsenal of talents and abilities that few can use successfully. An anthropologist must be able to observe the in-depth content of human nature within a society, analyze it from all aspects, and perform cross-cultural comparisons. The essay "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight" is written by a well respected anthropologist by the name of Clifford Geertz, who details his observations of the Balinese culture. Geertz was a professor at Princeton and received his Ph.D. from Harvard, as well as publishing several successful books in the field of anthropology. Geertz's essay presents a study and analysis on the Balinese culture through the male's obsessive affiliation …show more content…

However primitive this sport may seem, it is actually very organized and honorable. The two cocks chosen to fight are fitted with spurs and then aggravated by their owners to get them ready to engage their opponent. The cockfight is run very straightforward using a coconut as a timer for the two rounds of the match. Although this seems simple there are a "vast body of extraordinarily elaborate and precisely detailed rules" which is written down on "palm leaf manuscripts" (281). These rules, coming from cockfight lore, have been passed down several generations amongst the Balinese. At the fight there is an umpire, given respect equivalent to a king or priest, who is in charge of the fight. The umpire is a much respected man and during Geertz's entire study he never saw an "umpire's judgment questioned on any subject" which shows the respect and honor the Bali have for the rules. The actual fighting itself is a very small part of the cockfight, what makes it so interesting is the gambling involved. In the section titled "Odds and Even Money," Geertz writes about his study of the Balinese gambling that takes place during a cockfight. There are two different kinds of bets that take place. "The center bet is the official one, made between two cock owners" which is usually a collective and large bet made not just by the owner of the cock but also his friends and family (282). The center bet ranges from "fifteen ringgits