In 1925 the influential Dutch anthropologist W. H. Rassers posed the question of the relationship of myth to ritual, taking as his case study the Javanese myth of the birth of the man-eating demon, Kala. The light shed by this myth, and its re-enactment, on the social morphology of Java was immediately the subject of debate among students of Javanese culture. Stephen C. Headley translates and studies ritual and myth in their variant forms. He expands illuminatingly upon Rasser's general proposition, that the movement from cosmogony to exorcism founds fundamental social forms within which values circulate in Javanese society. Richly detailed descriptions confirm the permanence of these networks of circulating values in modern-day Java, and their persistence in the face of contemporary individualism.
Charge de Recherche, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Paris