In Sumatra's Angkola Batak culture, rituals celebrating major kinship-related events such as marriage have many layers of social and symbolic meaning; they have political, kinship, musical, mythic, and philosophical dimensions as lengthy, oratory-filled ceremonies that unite wife-giving lineages with wife-receivers. This article examines several ways that the interpretive approach that is discussed in the introduction can help students of Indonesian ritual grasp diverse aspects of Batak marriage rituals such as their hidden symbolic organization and their practical political implications. The article deals with a short sequence of adat dance staged for anthropological research purposes. (Adat, once translated as customary law, roughly means Angkola ceremonial life, kinship norms, and political thought; adat is eminently flexible, redefined by each Batak generation.) The choreography of the dance (wife-receivers dancing with wife-givers), songs, clothing, the political biographies of the participants, and the fact that the event was staged render the ceremony open to both structural and social contextual inquiry.

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