Religious Syncretism, Semantic Depletion and Secondary Interpretation in Ambonese Islam and Christianity in the Moluccas1

Dieter Bartels

Cornell University



Central Molucca, now on the periphery of modern Indonesia, was for centuries the hub of the clove and nutmeg trade. Foreigners from everywhere were attracted to the region. Some came only to trade, but others came to stay and Ambonese society is not only racially mixed, but is culturally an amalgam of indigenous and allochthonous elements. By the end of the fifteenth century, Hinduism introduced by immigrants from Java had been widely accepted, but it seems that earlier animistic conceptions centering around head-hunting were still at the core of the Ambonese belief system. It was then that Islam expanded rapidly among the coastal population, and by the time the Portuguese arrived in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, Hinduized village states were fighting against the advancement of Islam. The Portuguese successfully converted many non-Islamic villages to Catholicism and these villages became Protestant after the Dutch ousted the Portuguese shortly after 1600. Today, roughly half of the population adheres to Protestantism while the other half are followers of Islam. Both religions were engaged in a dialectic with the pre-existing belief system, which still in many ways forms the basis of Ambonese society and culture. This dialectic has varied greatly in intensity at different periods and within the two religious groups.

Neither among Moslems nor among Christians was ever effected a complete synthesis between Religion and the traditional belief system, and it is unlikely that it ever will occur since constantly new and complicating factors are introduced. At the present, reformism and, to a lesser extent, sectarianism create new pressures on adat-beliefs and adat-revivalism puts strains on Islam and Christianity. Futhermore, both religious groups are increasingly confronted with western secularism. Failure at synthesis does not mean, however, that there was not a considerable amount of syncretism between the respective religions and the prior belief-system.

In this inquiry, I am concerned with the processes of religious syncretism. The focus will be on the concepts of semantic depletion and secondary interpretation as developed by the German anthropologist Adolf E. Jensen, following in the footsteps of Leo Frobenius. The concepts will be reformulated in such a way that .their applicability in the process of religious syncretism can be demonstrated. It will be argued that the processes of erosion of meaning of beliefs, customs and institutions in traditional systems, conjoined with their reinterpretations in terms of notions of systems introduced, are not only key forces operating in religious syncretism but in non-radical socio-cultural change in general.

Basic Concepts: Semantic Depletion and Secondary Reinterpretation

Jensen outlined his ideas about semantic depletion and secondary interpretationof cultural phenomena in what is perhaps his most important theoretical contribution, Myth and Cult among Primitive Peoples.2Within the framework of Kulturmorphologie and Culture History, Jensen was interested in explaining cultural features of primitive societies which seemingly make no sense. He claimed that native explanations about older cultural phenomena often cannot be taken at face value, instead these phenomena must be examined by reconstructing, insofar as possible, earlier culture periods, despite the inherently hypothetical nature of such constructs.

Jensen builds his argument on Frobenius' distinction between two culture phases: (1) a creative phase, a period of cultural fluorescence in which new insights about the world are transformed into specific cultural forms-myths, rituals, etc.-whose meaning is fully transparent, and (2) a degenerative phase during which the original meaning gradually deteriorates and eventually disintegrates, although the cultural form itself may endure with transformed significance and altered function.

For example, a particular ritual is created to express some religious experience of insight about reality. This ritual is then periodically reenacted to commemorate the particular event and to renew community awareness of it. Repetition leads to a loss of vigor but does not by itself deplete its meaning. "Degeneration", or semantic depletion, of the ritual or any other religious observance such as a myth or a prayer, is brought about by a change in the prevailing world view, a shift of a group's orientation toward other aspects of reality and new ways of expressing them.

In this process of semantic depletion, the emphasis moves from a state of expression to a state of application. A religious custom is no longer a purely sacral act but is "utilized" for the attainment of a goal, such as gaining prosperity, health, power or whatever is desired. The original meaning is gradually replaced by what Jensen called "pseudo-motivations" and "pseudo-purposes." Culture elements can also be reinterpreted in order to harmonize them with the image of the world after a shift in the perception of reality has occurred, a process which leads to their symbolic transformation. Other elements may become obsolescent but will be carried over as "survivals" from earlier culture epochs because of the "law of inertia", the tendency of men to maintain an established mode of thought or to refrain from questioning its intellectual foundations without special inducement. The sole reason for the continuance of many customs is often that "our forefathers did it that way."

Basing his analysis on these ideas, presented here out of necessity in a very condensed version, Jensen defends the original grandiosity and truth of primitive religions against the distortions of Preuss, Tylor, Levi-Bruhl, and by implication, Malinowski, trying to disprove that primitive religions are based on mistaken or magical interpretations of cause and effect, while formulating his own comprehensive theory of religion. Jensen's book was the subject of much controversy, both in Germany and on the international scene, but this cannot concern us here since it had little to do with his concepts of semantic depletion and secondary interpretation per se which were generally ignored by his critics.

At this point, I shall remove Jensen's concept from its original framework and place it in the field of religious syncretism. Here the distinction between creative and degenerative culture phases is of little significance and will be ignored. Suffice it to say that when a particular socio-cultural system adopts or is forced to adopt new conceptual patterns and ideas from a more complex system, the initial impact can be quite destructive. Sooner or later, however, depending on the intensity of the impact, a syncretic dialogue will evolve in which an attempt is made to reconcile old and new beliefs. These developments may be seen as a "creative phase" in Jensen's sense.

Jensen is vague on the subject of what events could lead to a shift in Weltsicht, a change in attitude of a group of people toward their environment that triggers the process of semantic depletion. In the case of culture contacts, we are able to pinpoint these events with some precision, for we know the moment when beliefs, customs or institutions from an intrusive system begin to be accepted by another. Whatever the reasons for accepting these new elements, their mere presence has a profound impact on a traditional system.

Syncretism among Christians and Moslems: Similarities and Differences

When Islam and Christianity were accepted by different segments of Ambonese society, many new beliefs, rituals and institutions could be integrated in a relatively straightforward manner, since they had no equivalent in traditional Ambonese society. The personalities of Mohammed and Jesus, the concepts of individual salvation and of a Last Judgement, heaven and hell, mosques and churches, and so on, were all part of a new reality that could be absorbed without resulting in direct conflict with the traditional world. Islam and Christianity had their most devastating effect on beliefs centering around the order of the universe. Here semantic depletion, and sometimes elimination of traditional beliefs, occurred with great rapidity. Etiological myths about the workings of the universe were reduced to fables; nature deities, who never had much influence on daily human life, were degraded to actors in legends or fairy tales.

Serious conflicts arose between the newer religions and the traditional system as far as the order of this world was concerned. The advent of the new religions did not automatically invalidate all pre-conversion beliefs, customs and institutions, nor deny the existence of supernatural beings populating the traditional world. Anything relating to the foundation of Ambonese society, ranging from stories of origin to the rules of social interaction, proved to be extremely immune to attack from either religion. This is also true of the ancestors who continued to be venerated as the founders, legitimizers and enforcers of human law (adat). Their lingering presence, even today, is also based on the fact that they can be seen and talked to, and asked for help; their punishment is feared when adat is transgressed. Evil spirits too are equally "concrete" and possess harmfulpowers that can actually be experienced.

Semantic Accretion

In this area, semantic depletion and secondary interpretation move at a very slow pace. Syncretism often does not occur directly through depletion of the meaning of a traditional element and its subsequent reinterpretation in Moslem or Christian terms. Rather, it occurs through what I shall call "semantic accretion", a specialized form of secondary interpretation. Semantic accretion is the progress of loading a traditional, as yet undepleted culture element, with meaning derived from the adopted belief system. This keeps the traditional phenomenon intact while solving the problem of conflicting beliefs. The combination of two diverse cultural concepts also involves reinterpretation, during which both are to some extent depleted of their original meaning and put into a new context.

Semantic accretion plays an important role in the arena of politics and curing, fields involving the manipulation of powers in this world and the world beyond. Ambonese ppoliticians and healers often added new powers and ideas of power to their traditional ones in attempts to maintain or enhance their status and prestige, which were threatened in the changing social environment.3 Semantic accretion is most likely to occur when traditional culture phenomena are still considered useful but deficient in meaning in terms of the new reality resulting from culture contact.

This also becomes evident in the following illustration of semantic accretions. The Ambonese generally believe that they originate from a scared mountain, Nunusaku, located on the island of Seram. This belief, connected with an elaborate mythos describing primeval events until the time when the Ambonese spread from Nunusaku to populate all the other Central Moluccan islands, is at the very core of Ambonese ethnic identity. It is perceived as a historical reality and the mere questioning of it is still seen as a threat no only to the prevailing unity of Moslems and Christians, but also to the very meaning of being Ambonese. At the same time, this belief stands in direct contrast with the genesis of man as related by the Bible or Koran. This conflict has been resolved in popular culture by "relocating" the paradise, moving it to Mt. Nunusaku which then becomes the center of origin for all peoples. This ingenious convergence not only preserves Ambonese identity but also firmly roots two "alien" creeds within Ambonese culture.4

Traditional culture elements are most vulnerable to semantic depletion when they are in direct opposition to the central beliefs of Islam and Christianity, or when they become superfluous within the expanded world view. Yet very rarely are these elements completely eliminated. Both religions succeeded in destroying the prior world view as far as it ever existed as a coherent whole but many of its individual components remain part of the cultural tradition in various forms, however disjointed and out of context they may now be. For example, totemism, once practiced by many clans originating in Seram, also has become depleted of its meaning but members of these clans will adhere to the old food taboos and will not eat the specific clan animal or plant. They claim that such a transgression would make them sick, although they cannot give a reason for this.

Semantic depletion can affect traditional culture elements in two basic ways already distinguished by Jensen: (1) the culture phenomena continue to live on as survivals and (2) they become subject to symbolic transformation, including symbolic reversals, through reinterpretation. Clan totemism is one example of survivals. The origin of the food taboo can seldom be explained, or some contrived explanation is given. The usual answer refers back to the ancestors who somehow instituted the custom. This is seen as sufficient for its continuation, without ever questioning whether it makes sense.

While in this case Jensen's law of inertia is only partially applicable, since fear of poor health and of ancestral sanctions remain motivating forces, in other instances particular practices have become depleted even further of meaning. In traditional Ambonese society, prohibitionary signs known as matakau (red eyes) were used to protect individually owned gardens or trees from being tampered with by others. Severe illness or death were the result of trespassing and in some areas the power of the matakau was considered so potent that even the owner had to first undo the curse connected with it before he could safely touch his own property.5 The power of these signs did not vanish suddenly but was mentioned throughout centuries in European eyewitness accounts. However, religious pressures among Moslems and Christians and an increasing opening up to the modern world, especially after World War II, have finally drained them of almost all of their former potency. Today, the matakau have been reduced in most places to the function of scaring children in order to keep them out of fruit trees. The signs, often representing dangerous animals, are nowadays more or less equivalent to the bogeyman in our own culture.

Another example is the cakalele, formerly a ferocious war dance performed in the ritual contexts of warfare and head-hunting expeditions. A study of the cakalele is quite revealing since it shows us something about the time and spatial elements involved in the processes of semantic depletion. Since head-hunting was one of the first elements eliminated by the colonial powers, any meaningful relationship between the cakalele and head-hunting has long disappeared. The dance is, however, occasionally performed during inter-village feuds today. The men go to the sacred ancestral places in the mountains to prepare themselves for the dance, a religious act within the framework of ancestor worship. The performance honors the ancestors and assures their good will and participation in the ensuing battles.

In other villages the cakalele has lost its sacredness over time and is nowadays mainly, or exclusively, performed by children on national holidays or other special occasions. Even where it is still danced by adults, its performance is more and more limited to the entertainment of tourists or to liven up receptions of high-ranking politicians from Jakarta. We can wee a wide variation of semantic depletion both over space and in time within the same society. The trend clearly works everywhere toward a transformation of the cakalele from a war dance into a folk dance performed for enjoyment.6

Sometimes beliefs are reduced to the point where they become superstitions. In traditional society, hair was considered as the seat of a person's life force (pulu nyawa). The cutting of hair was often used in ritual to represent symbolic death. This has been completely forgotten. However, there remains a belief that cut hair should be buried or disposed of in a special place but never burnt, otherwise the person who does so will be afflicted by a severe headache. This belief continues despite the fact that nobody has the slightest notion why this should be so and where it originated.

Symbolic transformations may occur in a number of ways of which transformation by analogy meets the least resistance. The most simple example is that of the transmutation of indigenous evil spirits into Islamic jin among the Moslems. In this process, local spirits lost their generic characteristics and have instead taken on the general characteristics of jin. Since Islam officially recognizes the existence of evil spirits, the transformation was smooth. Evil spirits also remained a reality for the Christians, but since Protestantism could not absorb them, the Christians have loosely tied them to hell, calling them setan or iblis (devils), terms also used alternatively by their Moslem brothers, without articulating their relationship to Satan. Again generic distinctions have disappeared.

Another transformation by analogy occurred when the traditional sky god was changed into God. In traditional belief, Upu Lanite, or Lord Heaven, created all life on earth through union with his female counterpart Earth (Tapele). Beyond this act of creation, he seemed to have little interest in the affairs of the world, although he was always called upon as witness when someone took an adat oath, a practice still in vogue today.

It is impossible to ascertain whether the existence of Upu Lanite facilitated in any way the acceptance of Islam or Christianity because of superficial similarities with the supreme beings of those religions. It is also difficult to say whether the extreme remoteness of God from men, as it is perceived in Ambonese Islam and Christianity, was not at least reinforced by the aloofness of the former sky god. What is certain is that the Ambonese equate Upu Lanite with God. During this transformation, the creation myth connected with Upu Lanite has given way to the story of genesis as told in the Bible or Koran

Equating the two godheads may have been logical and obvious in view of their seeming similarities, and the transmutation may have taken place long ago. However, now the equation has suddenly been revived. The identification allows both Christians and Moslems to claim that they were always true believers, even before their conversions. For the Christians, this also results in a partial liberation from the stigma of adhering to the religion of their former colonial masters.7

Head-hunting is perhaps one of the most compelling examples of symbolic reversal. Once a central component of Ambonese culture, pervading every aspect of life to the point that the continuation and survival of society depended upon it, the concept of head-hunting has been turned upside down. Head-hunting has come to be perceived as despicable, beastly, and most importantly, a grave sin against God. The reversal went to such an extreme that the Dutch, who in actuality were instrumental in the abolishment of head-hunting during colonial times, were accused of the practice. It is believed that the Dutch secured heads to be buried under the foundations of large buildings, light towers, or bridges in order to guarantee their permanence.

Rationalization and Systematization

Secondary interpretation leading to symbolic transformations rarely occurs without special impetus.The most obvious pressure for change results from cognitive dissonance8 caused by the shift in the perspective of reality set off at the introduction of a new belief system. Attempts are made to bring beliefs, customs, and institutions, as well as certain values considered fundamental in terms of social identity, into harmony with the new realty either by amending them (semantic accretion) or redefining them (secondary interpretation) in order to reduce or, ideally, eliminate dissonance.9 The reestablishment of meaning concerns the entire society but the problem is complicated from the start by conflicts between individuals or groups who have a stake in the continuation of adat or in the advancement of the newly adopted religion.10

Dissonance and conflict of interests were at work among both Ambonese Moslems and Christians though more pronounced among the Christians. The separation of "church" and "state" among the Protestants led to a century-long struggle between the political leadership whose legitimacy was based largely on adat, and an emerging religious hierarchy who legitimacy was derived from God.11 In contrast, Islam, as it was introduced into the Central Moluccas, made no differentiation between the religious and political spheres, thus minimizing any potential conflict between religion and adat.

Undisturbed by the Dutch colonial government and isolated from the mainstream of Islamic thought, the traditional adat leadership enhanced its position by basing its claims to legitimacy on both God and the ancestors. Islamic offices, such as those of the imam or modin, were interwoven with and subordinated to the adat structure. The traditional leaders then had a vested interest in ironing out any dissonance between Islam and adat and faced no opposition from the general population. Over time, this meant that the adat religion became Islamized, following the rules of depletion, accretion, and reinterpretation outlined above. To some extent, it also meant a certain indigenization of Islam, for some Islamic beliefs, rituals, and institutions were given an adat-meaning and in the process lost some of their original meaning. The degree of indigenization of Islam varied widely from village to village, but in one region it was carried so far that people ultimately come to believe that Islam was brought to the Moluccas by the Prophet himself. The pilgrimage to Mecca is unnecessary, but can be performed at a special sacred place at home.

Christianity too was depleted of some of its universal aspects and parochialized to the point where it was referred to by the Ambonese Christians as "Agama Ambon" or "Ambonese Religion", excluding other ethnic groups from participation in it. Chinese Protestants living in Ambon were at times refused entrance into Ambonese churches. In the same way, particular Christian concepts were reinterpreted to fit traditional Ambonese ideas. Semantic depletion and reinterpretation are never exclusively one-way processes. The intrusive, more complex religion may assert itself at the expense of the autochthonous system, but not without undergoing considerable change over time.12

Symbolic Conversion

Among the Moslems, syncretism was primarily set into motion by a conflict of ideas rather than persons. In the Christian community the reverse was the case. The adherents of Christianity and those adat were engaged in a perpetual struggle for power. The church was usually on the attack and the adat forces were content to prevent excessive infringement on their domain. In order to fend off assaults on adat beliefs and practices, the adat defenders often resorted to "conversion" of those beliefs and practices to Christianity. Symbolic conversion has occurred when traditional ceremonies, such as weddings, are still performed in the way prescribed by adat, but were supplemented with prayers and generally reinterpreted in a Christian way and justified by pointing to analogous episodes in the Bible as precedents.

Another example is the payment of the bride price, which is justified by pointing out similar practices in the Old Testament, such as the story of Abraham sending gifts with a servant to procure a wife for his son Isaac from kinsmen in Mesopotamia.13

Conversion here serves two purposes: First, it clears one's conscience as a Christian, knowing that one has not transgressed any of God's laws and, secondly, custom is preserved, allowing one to avoid punishment by the ancestors, who in case of non-payment of the bride price may send either barrenness or sickness and even death to offspring of the couple if the custom is not followed.

The difference between symbolic conversion and semantic accretion is that in cases of the latter, both the traditional and the Christian idea, belief or custom are accepted and have to be brought into harmony, while in the former some indigenous notion or custom, often central to the socio-political order, is being threatened by the church, which offers no viable alternative or acceptable reason for its discontinuance, as in the case of the bride price. Whenever such alternatives are offered, as in life crisis rituals, semantic accretion has occurred, since their acceptance does not deny the validity of the corollary adat institution.

Paradoxically, the usage of quotations from the Scriptures to justify adat institutions and beliefs has led to a secularization of adat in general. This has been achieved by citing Jesus, who differentiates between the demands of God and Caesar, legitimizing Caesar's claim in the realm of the secular, as we have seen earlier. The Ambonese Christians thus equated adat with the laws of the world and the ancestors with Caesar and the adat officials are able to deny the church any right to interfere in their realm.

Even beliefs which could not be justified in political or social terms but were clearly "heathen" in character were clung to in the villages, although their adherents admitted that these practices were in direct conflict with Christianity and regardless of whatever denunciations and intimidation they were subjected to by their ministers.

The performances of the Tiga Malam ritual on the third night of the death of a person is a case in point. It is believed that the spirit of the deceased lingers about his former domicile after death and the ritual is held to make it possible for him to sever his ties with the living and move to the abode of the dead.

Sometimes, in attempts to justify this ritual, it is said to be performed in commemoration of Christ's rising from the dead after the third day, but the implied comparison between the son of God and common mortals is in itself a heresy hardly acceptable in Christian terms. Yet, neither the Dutch clergy nor their Ambonese successors have had much luck in their efforts to eradicate this "superstition". Only very recently was a breakthrough achieved, after the church stopped opposing the performance of the ritual, but instead offered an alternative by encouraging the bereaved to hold a prayer meeting under the leadership of the minister or some church elder that night in order to ask God for the salvation of the deceased.

The belief that the spirit remains nearby for three days has not yet completely disappeared, but since the ritual took on a Christian context, the Christian meaning is rapidly replacing the traditional one. Eventually, the ritual will become part of Ambonese Christianity, just as Christmas and Easter did in our society after their traditional context was displaced by Christian concepts.

The church, through its ministers in the villages, insists nowadays that a minister should be present at adat ceremonies in order to pray for God's blessing at the closing of the ceremony. A certain raja, who is generally very critical of church interference in adat matters, commented sarcastically on this practice. He asked: "What is the use of closing an adat ceremony again by the pendeta after it has already been closed according to adat and thus has received the blessings of the ancestors?" Shrugging his shoulders, he answered his own question, "Well, I guess, it is probably because the church believes that without praying the ceremony lacks spice. So they add some more salt!" The fact remains that this offensive strategy by the church, just as the defensive ones by adat proponents, will have the effect of further undermining and depleting adat thereby readying it for Christian interpretations.

Acceleration of Syncretic Processes

Since Indonesian independence, attacks on such pre-Christian beliefs as Tiga Malam have become more vigorous than those made by Dutch clergy in former times. This is part of an overall design by the Moluccan Church (GPM) to Christianize all aspects of society. The situation has also drastically changed among the Moslems since the period between the two world wars. As shown earlier, the Moslems had achieved a syncretic balance of Islam and adat religion. This balance was shattered with the advent of Reform Islam, introduced by the Muhammadiyah movement. The reformers wanted to cleanse Islam of all adat beliefs and for the first time, caused a polarization between religious and adat forces among the Moslems. Since then, the adat beliefs, which had held their own among Moslems for so much longer than among Christians, are rather quickly being depleted and are often reinterpreted in Islamic terms, following patterns identical to those just described in the discussion of conflicting interest in the Christian community.

While Islam and Christianity grind away on the traditional belief system in contemporary Ambon, western secularism, introduced unintentionally with western science and technological know-how, not only accelerates further depletion of adat but also begins to erode Islamic and Christian beliefs and institutions. Increasingly, fading elements are reinterpreted in terms of western scientific or pseudo-scientific concepts. For instance, circumcision (sunat) among Moslems is now being explained by a growing number of people as having been instituted by Allah for health reasons. In a similar manner, western concepts, paraphernalia and symbols of democracy are used to upgrade traditional political institutions and offices.

This propping up of traditional phenomena with elements borrowed from intruding, more complex socio-cultural systems has frequently been seen by western observers as an essentially regressive form of "neo-traditionalism", as more or less desperate attempts to salvage one's own system by dressing it up in a new garb. It is believed to merely create an illusion of modernity but in reality such actions are an obstacle to social change, an impediment to genuine modernization.

This and similar reasoning does not take the role of semantic depletion and secondary interpretation into account. As we have seen, once new culture elements are accepted, the processes of syncretizing are set into motion. Intended or not, the existing belief system, and to a lesser extent the newly introduced system, experience marked changes. The processes of change are often rather slow and its success depends frequently on historical developments, but nevertheless, Ambonese society was completely transformed and is again in a state of transformation.

"Neo-traditionalism" may indeed be a first response to the threat from a more complex socio-cultural system. However, such a defensive reaction will likely lead to a decisive social change in which semantic depletion and secondary interpretation are key factors.


1)This paper was first presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November 17-21, 1976, Washington, D.C., within the Symposium, New Meaning for a Changing World: Religion and Values in South-east Asia. The field research on which this paper is based was undertaken in 1975-76, under the auspices of Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (The Indonesian Academy of Sciences) in Jakarta. During this period, I was supported by a Fulbright-Hays Award for Pre-doctoral Research and a grant in aid from the London-Cornell Project for East and Southeast Asian Studies. To all these institutes I am indebted. I would also like to thank, A. Thomas Kirsch, Robert J. Smith, and David K. Wyatt for their comments and criticisms. return ^

2)Translated into English in 1963 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). First published in Germany in 1951, under the title Mythos und Kult bei den Naturvölkern. Jensen did ethnographic fieldwork in Ethiopia and the Moluccas. His monograph Die Drei Ströme (Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1948), a result of his participation in the Frobenius Expedition, 1937-38, has to be considered an anthropological classic. return ^

3)The accumulation of new powers as an important factor in culture change has been discussed by the present writer in "Politicians and Magicians: Power, Adaptive Strategies and Syncretism in the Central Moluccas," Proceedings. 5th Conference on Indonesia, Madison, Wisconsin, July 29-31, 1976. return ^

4)The subject of Ambonese identity and ethnic unity between Christians and Moslems is discussed in D. Bartels, Guardidng the Invisible Mountain: Intervillage Alliances, Religious Syncretism and Ethnic Identity among Ambonese Christians and Moslems in the Moluccas (Ithaca: Cornell University, Unpublished Ph. D. Thesis), esp. Pp. 313ff. return ^

5)Jensen, op.cit., p.77. return ^

6)In most villages, there is a direct correlation between adat (customary law, etiquette) and the cakalele: if the war dance still is taken very seriously and is ritually meaningful, it can be taken as a good indicator that adat in general is very strong. Yet, despite the depletion of its ritual meaning, the cakalele, like a European folk dance, retains it full emotional value and nowadays serves mainly as a powerful symbolic statement of group unity and ethnic identity. return ^

7)A. T. Kirsch in Phu Thai Religious Syncretism (Cambridge: Harvard University, Unpublished Ph.D.. Dissertation, 1967), pp. 441-442 on Thailand and M. E. Mendelson in "A Messianjic Buddhist Association in Upper Burma", Bulletin of School of Oriental and African Studies (1961) 24: 560-80 on Burma report that local spirits are identified with more universal Brahmanistic "gods" who, in turn, are closely linked and made subordinate to Buddhism. While a similar "up-grading" occurred for Upu Lanite in Ambonese Christianity and Islam, other benevolent spirits and deities could not be accommodated by either religion because of their strict monotheism. return ^

8)L. Festinger in "An Introduction to the Theory of Dissonance", Current Perspectives in Social Psychology, edited by E. P. Hollander and R. G. Hunt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 348 defines dissonance as "the existence of non-fitting relations among cognitions" and cognition as "any knowledge, opinion, or belief about the environment, about one's self, or about one's behavior". He defines cognitive dissonance as "an antecedent condition which leads to activity oriented towards dissonance reduction just as hunger leads to activity oriented toward hunger reduction". It is proposed here that cognitive dissonance can be a very useful concept for understanding processes of religious syncretism, especially when applied in conjunction with a focus on conflicts of interest which may be responsible for the rise of cognitive dissonance. return ^

9)Attempts at dissonance reduction may be expected to be especially active in those areas where direct clashes occur. In areas where there is no open confrontation (e.g., in Ambonese child-rearing practices), or where dissonance can be avoided by circumventing open clashes (e.g., through secretive practice of adat customs) contradictory beliefs may continue to exist side-by-side over long periods of time. It is suggested that this may, at least in part, explain the unevenness in rational consistency and systematic coherence in syncretic systems. return ^

10)For a detailed account of church-state relations among Christians, see F. L. Cooley, Altar and Throne in Central Moluccann Societies (New Haven: Yale University, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, 1962). return ^

11)H. Kraemer, From Missionfield to Independent Church (The Hague: Boekencentrum, 1958), p. 20. return ^

12)The concepts of "universalization" and "parochialization" are borrowed from M. Marriott, "Little Communities in an Indigenous Civilization", Village India: Studies in the Little Community, edited by M. Marriott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955), pp. 171-222. return ^

13)Genesis 24. This particular example has been first reported by Cooley, op. cit., pp. 208-209. The payment of bride price is also an Islamic custom (cf. M. Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Muslim Institutions. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1950, pp. 128-129) and posed no particular problems among Moslems. An example of symbolic conversion among Moslems is the conversion of ancestral graves into keramat, that is graves of Moslem saints. return ^