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Asiatische Studien - Études Asiatiques

Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Asiengesellschaft - Revue de la Société Suisse-Asie

Editor-in-Chief: Suter, Rafael

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The Dynamics of lennawa: Exchange, Sharing and Sensorial Techniques for Managing Life Substances in Ifugao

Jon Henrik Ziegler Remme
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  • Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1091 Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway
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Published Online: 2017-03-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2015-0032


For the Ifugao of Northern Luzon, the Philippines, life, health and well-being depend on the containment of the life force called lennawa within the body. The life sustaining lennawa-body relation is, however, inherently unstable. Hence, there is a need to engage in practices that sustain the lennawa-body relation. While, as also previous studies have shown, exchange and sharing are ways in which this is achieved, I argue that the containment of the life force within and its eventual release from the body depend on the sensorially enacted relations with other humans and spirits. I describe how the Ifugao use olfactory, auditory and tactile techniques to manage relations with other humans and spirits and how performing these sensorial techniques properly stabilizes the lennawa-body relation. When this relation is weakened, the Ifugao I worked with engaged in elaborate therapeutic rituals, the purpose of which was to retrieve the lennawa and ensure that it was rejoined with the body. The rituals took the form of exchange of lennawa between humans and spirits, and this exchange too was brought about by various multi-sensorial means. In sum, I discuss how Ifugao techniques of containing life must be understood within a framework that acknowledges the sensorial enactment of relations.

Keywords: life force; senses; smell; auditory; rituals; the Philippines


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-03-14

Published in Print: 2017-03-01

Citation Information: Asiatische Studien - Études Asiatiques, Volume 71, Issue 1, Pages 327–351, ISSN (Online) 2235-5871, ISSN (Print) 0004-4717, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2015-0032.

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