Stone Masters: Power Encounters in Mainland Southeast Asia
about the book
Stone Masters (2022) examines stone veneration in mainland Southeast Asia. The topic is vast and is itself but a small segment of an even larger topic, which is the veneration of stones by humans across all continents. Therefore, this book draws together scholars and scholarship from across the region. Our commitment, collectively, is that close attention to particular cases of stone veneration is a pathway to understanding the phenomenon, and indeed it is often the only path that is available. However, this path must lead beyond singular cases if it is to yield general insights. A regional, ethnological perspective is useful because it provides a vantage which is neither so tightly focused on one locale that it ends up insisting on that place’s uniqueness, nor is it so beholden to generalising impulses that it fails to ring true with on-the-ground observations. Our hope is that this investigation of stone veneration in mainland Southeast Asia will speak to investigations into stones, mastery, authority, and the interplay between the power of life and the power over life evident in the wider Asia Pacific region and beyond.
The excellent chapters in Stone Masters reveal the importance of comparison within the region, while at the same time recognizing the complexity of the task of comparison and its power to broaden our understanding of the human condition in general.PENNY VAN ESTERIK, STONE MASTERS