Kopfjäger, Schiffstücher und der Alexanderroman

Dimitra Schönegger


The Abung-Lampung, one of the three Lampung tribes, are inhabitants
of the southern part of Sumatra. They have been named mountain dwellers
and they are divided into three groups. Anthropologists consider them as
the autochthonous population of this region. Among the Abung-Lampung we encounter many characteristics of the megalithic culture of Southeast Asia enriched with elements of the bronze age, known as the Dongson-Culture. These are: Stone monuments, head hunting, circumcision, transition rites, ancestor worship, worship of spirits. This heritage is manifested in the geometric ornamentation of their artifacts, on textiles, bamboo-containers, wood carvings, baskets and mats, jewelry, etc. Special attention has been given to the ship-cloths, which were used as valuable presents at the transition rites indicating at the same time the social position of the individuals involved. Despite the influence of Hinduism and later of Islam, the perseverance of the above mentioned cultural traits has led anthropologists to believe that the influence of Islam was rather superficial and did not deeply affect their original, pre-Hinduistic beliefs. However, the absorption of the rather complicated legend of Alexander the Great into their creation myth proves that their contact with Islam was not incidental or temporary, but rather continuous and intensive. This myth was recorded in 1852 and can be ascribed —according to our opinion—to the groups inhabiting the northern territory of Lampung adjacent to the region of Palembang. It has coexisted with all other previous cultural influences and can be seen as the witness of the abstract (non-figurative), intellectual dominance of Islam in this region.

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