Centers, Kings, and Charisma: 
Reflections on the Symbolics of Power


Clifford Geertz





Like so many of the key ideas in Weber's sociology--verstehen, legitimacy, inner-worldly asceticism, rationalization--the concept of charisma suffers from an uncertainty of referent: does it denote a cultural phenomenon or a psychological one? At once "a certain quality" that marks an individual as standing in a privileged relationship to the sources of being and a hypnotic power "certain personalities" have to engage passions and dominate minds, it is not clear whether charisma is the status, the excitement, or some ambiguous fusion of the two. The attempt to write a sociology of culture and a social psychology in a single set of sentences is what gives Weber's work its orchestral complexity and harmonic depth. But it is also what gives it, especially to ears less attuned to polyphony, its chronic elusiveness.


In Weber, a classic instance of his own category, the complexity was managed and the elusiveness offset by his extraordinary ability to hold together warring ideas. In more recent and less heroic times, however, the tendency has been to ease the weight of his thought by collapsing it into one of its dimensions, most commonly the psychological, and nowhere has this been more true than in connection with charisma.1 Everyone from John Lindsay to Mick Jagger has been called charismatic, mainly on the grounds that he has contrived to interest a certain number of people in the glitter of his personality; and the main interpretation of the rather more genuine upsurge of charismatic leadership in the New States has been that it is a product of psychopathology encouraged by social disorder.2 In the general psychologism of the age, so well remarked by Phillip Rieff, the study of personal authority narrows to an investigation of self-presentment and collective neurosis; the numinous aspect fades from view.3


A few scholars, among them prominently Edward Shils, have, however, sought to avoid this reduction of difficult richness to neo-Freudian clichÈ by facing up to the fact that there are multiple themes in Weber's concept of charisma, that almost all of them are more stated than developed, and that the preservation of the force of the concept depends upon developing them and uncovering thereby the exact dynamics of their interplay. Between the blur produced by trying to say too much at once and the banality produced by dismissing mysteries there remains the possibility of articulating just what it is that causes some men to see transcendency in others, and what it is they see.


In Shils's case, the lost dimensions of charisma have been restored by stressing the connection between the symbolic value individuals possess and their relation to the active centers of the social order.4 Such centers, which have "nothing to do with geometry and little with geography," are essentially concentrated loci of serious acts; they consist in the point or points in a society where its leading ideas come together with its leading institutions to create an arena in which the events that most vitally affect its members' lives take place. It is involvement, even oppositional involvement, with such arenas and with the momentous events that occur in them that confers charisma. It is a sign, not of popular appeal or inventive craziness, but of being near the heart of things.


There are a number of implications of such a glowing-center view of the matter Charismatic figures can arise in any realm of life that is sufficiently focused to seem vital--in science or art as readily as in religion or politics. Charisma does not appear only in extravagant forms and fleeting moments but is an abiding, if combustible, aspect of social life that occasionally bursts into open flame. There is no more a single charismatic emotion than there is a single moral, aesthetic, or scientific one; though passions, often enough distorted ones, are undeniably involved, they can be radically different from case to case. But my concern here is not to pursue these issues, as important as they are to a general theory of social authority. It is to probe into another matter Shils's approach causes to appear in a novel light: the inherent sacredness of sovereign power.


The mere fact that rulers and gods share certain properties has, of course, been recognized for some time. "The will of a king is very numinous," a seventeenth-century political divine wrote; "it has a kind of vast universality in it"--and he was not the first to say so. Nor has it gone unstudied: Ernst Kantorowicz's extraordinary The King's Two Bodies--that magisterial discussion of, as he put it, "medieval political theology "--traced the vicissitudes of royal charisma in the West over two hundred years and a half-dozen countries, and more recently there has been a small explosion of books sensitive to what now tends to be called, a bit vaguely, the symbolic aspects of power.5 But the contact between this essentially historical and ethnographic work and the analytical concerns of modern sociology has been weak at best, a situation the art historian Panofsky once analogized, in a different context, to that of two neighbors who share the right to shoot over the same district, but one of them owns the gun and the other all the ammunition.


Though still very much in process, and cast sometimes on too apodictic a level, Shils's reformulations promise to be of enormous value in overcoming this unuseful estrangement because they encourage us to look for the vast universality of the will of kings (or of presidents, generals, f¸hrers, and party secretaries) in the same place as we look for that of gods: in the rites and images through which it is exerted. More exactly, if charisma is a sign of involvement with the animating centers of society, and if such centers are cultural phenomena and thus historically constructed, investigations into the symbolics of power and into its nature are very similar endeavors. The easy distinction between the trappings of rule and its substance becomes less sharp, even less real; what counts is the manner in which, a bit like mass and energy, they are transformed into each other.


At the political center of any complexly organized society (to narrow our focus now to that) there is both a governing elite and a set of symbolic forms expressing the fact that it is in truth governing. No matter how democratically the members of the elite are chosen (usually not very) or how deeply divided among themselves they may be (usually much more than outsiders imagine), they justify their existence and order their actions in terms of a collection of stories, ceremonies, insignia, formalities, and appurtenances that they have either inherited or, in more revolutionary situations, invented. It is these--crowns and coronations, limousines and conferences--that mark the center as center and give what goes on there its aura of being not merely important but in some odd fashion connected with the way the world is built. The gravity of high politics and the solemnity of high worship spring from liker impulses than might first appear.


This is, of course, more readily apparent (though, as I shall eventually argue, not any more true) in traditional monarchies than in political regimes, where the ingenerate tendency of men to anthropomorphize power is better disguised. The intense focus on the figure of the king and the frank construction of a cult, at times a whole religion, around him make the symbolic character of domination too palpable for even Hobbesians and Utilitarians to ignore. The very thing that the elaborate mystique of court ceremonial is supposed to conceal--that majesty is made, not born--is demonstrated by it. "A woman is not a duchess a hundred yards from a carriage," and chiefs are changed to rajahs by the aesthetic of their rule.


This comes out as clearly as anywhere else in the ceremonial forms by which kings take symbolic possession of their realm. In particular, royal progresses (of which, where it exists, coronation is but the first) locate the society's center and affirm its connection with transcendent things by stamping a territory with ritual signs of dominance. When kings journey around the countryside, making appearances, attending fÍtes, conferring honors, exchanging gifts, or defying rivals, they mark it, like some wolf or tiger spreading his scent through his territory, as almost physically part of them. This can be done, as we shall see, within frameworks of expression and belief as various as sixteenth-century English Protestantism, fourteenth-century Javanese Hinduism, and nineteenth-century Moroccan Islam; but however it is done, it is done, and the royal occupation gets portrayed as being a good deal more than merely hedged with divinity.



Elizabeth's England: Virtue and Allegory


On 14 January 1559, the day before her coronation, Elizabeth Tudor--"a daughter, whose birth disappointed her father's hopes for succession, and thus, indirectly, caused her mother's early demise; an illegitimized Princess whose claim to the throne was, nevertheless, almost as valid as those of her half-brother and half-sister; a focus of disaffection during Mary's reign; and a survivor of constant agitation by Imperial and Spanish emissaries to have her eliminated"--rode in a great progress (there were a thousand horses, and she sat, awash in jewels and gold cloth, in an open litter) through the historical districts of the City of London. As she moved, a vast didactic pageant unfolded, stage by stage, before her, settling her into the moral landscape of the resilient capital that five years earlier had done as much, or tried to, for Philip of Spain.6


Starting at the Tower (where she aptly compared her seeing the day to God's delivery of Daniel from the lions), she proceeded to Fenchurch Street, where a small child offered her, for the town's sake, two gifts--blessing tongues to praise her and true hearts to serve her. At Gracechurch Street she encountered a tableau vivant called "The Uniting of the Houses of Lancaster and York." It took the form of an arch spanning the street, covered with red and white roses and divided into three levels. On the lowest, two children, representing Henry VII, enclosed in a rose of red roses, and his wife Elizabeth, enclosed in one of white, sat holding hands. On the middle level there were two more children, representing Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn, the bank of red roses rising from the Lancaster side and the bank of white ones from the York converging upon them. And at the top, amid mingled red and white, perched a single child, representing the honored (and legitimate) Elizabeth herself. At Cornhill, there was another arch with a child on it representing the new queen, but this one was seated on a throne held up by four townsmen dressed to represent the four virtues--Pure Religion, love of Subjects, Wisdom, and Justice. They, in turn, trod their contrary vices--Superstition and Ignorance, Rebellion and Insolence, Folly and Vainglory, Adulation and Bribery (also impersonated by costumed citizens)--roughly under foot. And lest the iconography be too oblique, the child addressed an admonitory verse to the sovereign she mirrored, spelling out its message:

While that religion true, shall ignorance suppresse
And with her weightie foote, break superstitions heade
While love of subjectes, shall rebellion distresse
And with zeale to the prince, insolencie down treade

While justice, can flattering tonges and briberie deface
While follie and vaine glory to wisedome yelde their handes
So long shall government, not swarve from her right race
But wrong decayeth still, and rightwisenes up standes.7

Thus instructed, the queen moved on to Sopers-Lane, where there were no less than eight children, arranged in three levels. These, as tablets hung above their heads announced, represented the eight beatitudes of Saint Matthew, which a poem recited there described as grained into the character of the queen by the hurts and perils she had surmounted en route to the throne ("Thou has been viii times blest, O quene of worthy fame / by meekness of thy spirite, when care did thee besette").8 From there she passed on to Cheapside, confronting at the Standard painted likenesses of all the kings and queens arranged in chronological order down to herself; receiving at the Upper End two thousand marks in gold from the City dignitaries ("Perswade you selues," she replied in thanks, "that for the safetie and quietness of you all, I will not spare, if nede be to spend my blood");9 and arriving, in the Little Conduit, at the most curious image of all--two artificial mountains, one "cragged, barren and stony," representing "a decayed commonweal"; one "fair, fresh, green, and beautiful," representing "a flourishing commonweal." On the barren mountain there was a dead tree, an ill-dressed man slumped disconsolately beneath it; on the green one a flowering tree, a well-appointed man standing happily beside it. From the branches of each hung tablets listing the moral causes of the two states of political health: in the one, want of the fear of God, flattering of princes, unmercifulness in rulers, unthankfulness in subjects; in the other, a wise prince, learned rulers, obedient subjects, fear of God. Between the hills was a small cave, out of which a man representing Father Time, complete with scythe, emerged, accompanied by his daughter, Truth, to present to the queen an English Bible ("O worthy Queene . . . words do flye, but writing doth remain"), which Elizabeth took, kissed, and, raising it first above her head, pressed dramatically to her breast.10


After a Latin oration by a schoolboy in Saint Paul's churchyard, the queen proceeded to Fleet Street, where she found, of all people, Deborah, "the judge and restorer of the house of Israel," enthroned upon a tower shaded by a palm tree and surrounded by six persons, two each representing the nobility, the clergy, and the commonalty. The legend inscribed on a tablet before them read, "Deborah with her estates consulting for the good gouerment of Israel." All this, its designer writes, was to encourage the queen not to fear, "though she were a woman; for women by the spirite and power of Almyghtye God have ruled both honorably and pollitiquely, and that a great tyme, as did Deborah."11 At Saint Dunstan's Church, another child, this one from Christ's Hospital, made another oration. Finally, at Temple Bar, two giants--Gogmagog, the Albion, and Corineus, the Briton--bore a tablet on which were written verses summarizing all the pageants that had been displayed, and the progress ended.


This progress. In 1565 she goes to Coventry; in 1566 to Oxford; in 1572 she makes a long journey through the provinces, stopping for "masques and pageants" at a whole host of noble houses. She also enters Warwyck in that year, and the next she is in Sandwich, greeted with gilt dragons and lions, a cup of gold, and a Greek Testament. In 1574 it is Bristol's turn (there is a mock battle in which a small fort called "Feeble Policy" is captured by a large one called "Perfect Beauty"). In 1575 she visits the earl of Kenilworth's castle near Coventry, where there are Triton on a mermaid, Arion on a dolphin, the Lady of the Lake, and a nymph called Zabeta who turns lovers into trees; and later she enters Worcester. In 1578 the red and white roses and Deborah reappear in Norwich, accompanied by Chastity and Philosophy putting Cupid to rout. And they go on, "these endless peregrinations, which were so often the despair of her ministers"--in 1591 to Sussex and Hampshire, in 1592 to Sudeley, and, once again, Oxford.12 In 1602, the year before she dies, there is the last one, at Harefield Place. Time emerges, as he had that first day in Cheapside, but with clipped wings and a stopped hourglass.13 The royal progress, Strong remarks of Elizabeth--"the most legendary and successful of all [its] exponents"--was "the means by which the cult of the imperial virgin was systematically promoted."14 The charisma that the center had (rather deliberately, as a matter of fact) fashioned for her out of the popular symbolisms of virtue, faith, and authority she carried, with a surer sense of statecraft than those pragmatical ministers who objected, to the countryside, making London as much the capital of Britain's political imagination as it was of its government.


That imagination was allegorical, Protestant, didactic, and pictorial; it lived on moral abstractions cast into emblems. Elizabeth was Chastity, Wisdom, Peace, Perfect Beauty, and Pure Religion as well as queen (at an estate in Hertford she was even Safety at Sea); and being queen she was these things. Her whole public life--or, more exactly, the part of her life the public saw--was transformed into a kind of philosophical masque in which everything stood for some vast idea and nothing took place unburdened with parable. Even her meeting with Anjou, possibly the man she came closest to marrying, was turned into a morality; he entered her presence seated on a rock, which was drawn toward her by Love and Destiny pulling golden chains.15 Whether you want to call this romanticism or neo-Platonism matters little; what matters is that Elizabeth ruled a realm in which beliefs were visible, and she but the most conspicuous.


The center of the center, Elizabeth not only accepted its transformation of her into a moral idea, she actively cooperated in it. It was out of this--her willingness to stand proxy, not for God, but for the virtues he ordained, and especially for the Protestant version of them--that her charisma grew. It was allegory that lent her magic, and allegory repeated that sustained it. "How striking and meaningful it must have been to the spectators," Bergeron writes of that gift of an English Bible from the daughter of Time, "to see Truth in visible union with their new sovereign. . . . Morally Truth has chosen between good--the flourishing hill, the future, Elizabeth--and evil--the sterile mount, the past, false religion and a false queen. Such is the path to salvation."16



Hayam Wuruk's Java: Splendor and Hierarchy


There are other ways of connecting the character of a sovereign to that of his realm, however, than enveloping him in pictured homilies; as moral imaginations differ, so do political, and not every progress is that of a Pilgrim. In the Indic cultures of classical Indonesia the world was a less improvable place, and royal pageantry was hierarchical and mystical in spirit, not pious and didactic.17 Gods, kings, lords, and commoners formed an unbroken chain of religious status stretching from Siva-Buddha--"Ruler over rulers of the world . . . Spirit of the spiritual . . . Unconceivable of the unconceivable"--down to the ordinary peasant, barely able to look toward the light, the higher levels standing to the lower as greater realities to lesser.18 If Elizabeth's England was a swirl of idealized passions, Hayam Wuruk's Java was a continuum of spiritualized pride. "The peasants honor the chiefs," a fourteenth-century clerical text reads, "the chiefs honor the lords, the lords honor the ministers, the ministers honor the king, the kings honor the priests, the priests honor the gods, the gods honor the sacred powers, the sacred powers honor the Supreme Nothingness."19


Yet even in this unpopulist a setting, the royal progress was a major institution, as can be seen from Indic Java's greatest political text, the fourteenth-century narrative poem Negarakertagama, which is not only centered around a royal progress but is in fact part of it.20 The basic principle of Indonesian statecraft--that the court should be a copy of the cosmos and the realm a copy of the court, with the king, liminally suspended between gods and men, the mediating image in both directions--is laid out in almost diagrammatic form. At the center and apex, the king; around him and at his feet, the palace; around the palace, the capital, "reliable, submissive"; around the capital, the realm, "helpless, bowed, stooping, humble"; around the realm, "getting ready to show obedience," the outside world--all disposed in compass-point order, a configuration of nested circles that depicts not just the structure of society but, a political mandala, that of the universe as a whole:

The royal capital in Majapahit is Sun and Moon, peerless; The numerous manors with their encircling groves are halos around the sun and moon; The numerous other towns of the realm . . . are stars and planets; And the numerous other islands of the archipelago are ring-kingdoms, dependent states drawn toward the royal Presence.21

It is this structure, the deep geometry of the cosmos, which the poem celebrates and into which, half as rite and half as policy, it fits the royal progress.


It opens with a glorification of the king. He is at once Siva in material form--"The Daymaker's Equal," upon whose birth volcanoes erupted and the earth shook--and a triumphant overlord who has vanquished all the darkness there is in the world ("Exterminated are the enemies . . . Rewarded, the good . . . Reformed, the bad").22 Next, his palace is described: North, the reception areas; East, the religious shrines; South, the family chambers; West, the servants quarters; in the center, "The Interior of the Interior," his personal pavilion. Then, with the palace as center, the complex around it: East, the Sivaite clergy; South, the Buddhist clergy; West, the royal kinsmen; North, the public square. Then, with the complex as center, the capital in general: North, the chief ministers; East, the junior king; South, the Sivaite and Buddhist bishops; West, though not in fact mentioned, probably the ranking commoners.23 Then, with the capital as center, the regions of  the realm, ninety-eight of them, stretching from Malaya and Borneo on the North and East to Timor and New Guinea on the South and West; and, finally, the outermost ring, Siam, Cambodia, Campa, Annam--"Other countries protected by the Illustrious Prince."24 Virtually the whole of the known world (later parts of China and India are mentioned as well) is represented as turned toward Java, all of Java as turned toward Majapahit, and all of Majapahit as turned toward Hayam Wuruk--"Sun and Moon, shining over the earth-circle."25


In cold fact, hardly more than the eastern part of Java was so oriented, and most of that in an attitude not properly described as either helpless or humble.26 It was to this region, where the kingdom, however invertebrate, at least was more than a poetic conceit, that the royal progresses were directed: west to Pajang, near present-day Surakarta, in 1353; north to Lasem on the Java Sea in 1354; south to Lodaya and the Indian Ocean in 1357; east to Lumajang, nearly to Bali, in 1359.27


Only the last of these, which was probably the greatest, is described in detail, however--more than four hundred lines being devoted to it. The king left the capital at the beginning of the dry season, visiting no less than 210 localities scattered over about ten thousand to fifteen thousand square miles in about two and a half months, returning just before the west monsoon brought the rains. There were about four hundred ox-drawn, solid-wheel carts; there were, more for effect than anything else, elephants, horses, donkeys, and even camels (imported from India); there were swarms of people on foot, some carrying burdens, some displaying regalia, some no doubt dancing and singing--the whole lurching along like some archaic traffic jam a mile or two an hour over the narrow and rutted roads lined with crowds of astonished peasants. The core section of the procession, which seems to have come in the middle, was led by the cart of the chief minister, the famous Gajah Mada. Behind him came the four ranking princesses of the realm--the sister, mother's sister's daughter, mother's sister, and mother of the king--together with their consorts. And behind them, seated on a palanquin and surrounded by dozens of wives, bodyguards, and servants, came the king, "ornamented with gold and jewels, shining." Since each of the princesses represented one of the compass points (marked on her cart by traditional symbols and on her person by her title, which associated her with the quarter of the country in the appropriate direction from the capital), and the king represented the center in which they all were summed, the very order of the march conveyed the structure of the cosmos--mirrored in the organization of the court--to the countryside.28 All that was left to complete this bringing of Heaven's symmetry to earth's confusion was for the countryside, struck with the example, to shape itself, in turn, to the same design.


The stops this lumbering caravan made--at forest hermitages, sacred ponds, mountain sanctuaries, priestly settlements, ancestral shrines, state temples, along the strand (where the king, "waving to the sea," composed some verses to placate the demons in it)--but reinforce the image of a metaphysical road show.29 Everywhere Hayam Wuruk went, he was showered with luxuries--textiles, spices, animals, flowers, drums, fire drills, virgins--most of which, the last excepted, he redistributed again, if only because he could not carry them all. There were ceremonies everywhere, crowded with offerings: in Buddhist domains Buddhist, in Sivaite ones Sivaite, in many places both. Anchorites, scholars, priests, abbots, shamans, sages, entered into his Presence, seeking contact with sacred energies; and in virtually every town, sometimes at mere encampments, he held public audiences, also largely ceremonial, for local authorities, merchants, and leading commoners. When there were places he could not reach--Bali, Madura, Blambangan--their chieftains journeyed to meet him, bearing gifts, "trying to outvie each other" in the forms of deference. The whole was a vast ritual seeking to order the social world by confronting it with magnificence reaching down from above and a king so exactly imitative of the gods that he appeared as one to those beneath him.


In short, instead of Christian moralism, Indic aestheticism. In sixteenth-century England, the political center of society was the point at which the tension between the passions that power excited and the ideals it was supposed to serve was screwed to its highest pitch; and the symbolism of the progress was, consequently, admonitory and covenantal: the subjects warned, and the queen promised. In fourteenth-century Java, the center was the point at which such tension disappeared in a blaze of cosmic symmetry; and the symbolism was, consequently, exemplary and mimetic: the king displayed, and the subjects copied. Like the Elizabethan, the Majapahit progress set forth the regnant themes of political thought--the court mirrors the world the world should imitate; society flourishes to the degree that it assimilates this fact; and it is the office of the king, wielder of the mirror, to assure that it does. It is analogy, not allegory, that lends the magic here:

The whole of Java is to be as the capital of the King's
realm; The thousands of peasant huts are to be as the courtiers'
manors surrounding the palace;
The other islands are to be as the cultivated lands,
happy, quiet;
The forests and mountains are to be as the parks, all
set foot on by Him, at peace
in His mind.30


Hasan's Morocco: Movement and Energy


It is not necessary, of course, that power be dressed up in virtue or set round with cosmology to be perceived as more than force in the service of interest: its numinousness can be symbolized directly. In traditional Morocco, "the Morocco that was," as Walter Harris called it, personal power, the ability to make things happen the way one wants them to happen--to prevail--was itself the surest sign of grace.31 In a world of wills dominating wills, and that of Allah dominating them all, strength did not have to be represented as other than what it was in order to suffuse it with transcendent meaning. Like God, kings desired and demanded, judged and decreed, harmed and rewarded. C'est son mÈtier: one did not need an excuse to rule.


One, of course, did need the capacity, and that was not so easily come by in a vast and shifting field of literally hundreds of political entrepreneurs, each concerned to build a smaller or larger configuration of personal support about himself. Morocco did not have either the hierarchism of medieval Hinduism or the salvationism of Reformation Christianity to canonize its sovereign; it had only an acute sense of the power of God and the belief that his power appeared in the world in the exploits of forceful men, the most considerable of whom were kings. Political life is a clash of personalities everywhere, and in even the most focused of states lesser figures resist the center; but in Morocco such struggle was looked upon not as something in conflict with the order of things, disruptive of form or subversive of virtue, but as its purest expression. Society was agonistic--a tournament of wills; so then was kingship and the symbolism exalting it. Progresses here were not always easy to tell from raids.


Politically, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Morocco consisted of a warrior monarchy centered in the Atlantic Plain, a cloud of at least sporadically submissive "tribes" settled in the fertile regions within its immediate reach, and a thinner cloud of only very occasionally submissive ones scattered through the mountains, steppes, and oases that rim the country.32 Religiously, it consisted of a sharifian dynasty (that is, one claiming descent from Muhammad), a number of Koranic scholars, jurists, teachers, and scribes (ulema), and a host of holy men, living and dead, possessed of miraculous powers, the famous marabouts.33 In theory, Islamic theory, the political and religious realms were one, the king was caliph and head of both, and the state was thus a theocracy; but it was not a theory that anyone, even the king, could regard as more than a lost ideal in the face of a situation where charismatic adventurers were constantly arising on all sides. If Moroccan society has any chief guiding principle, it is probably that one genuinely possesses only what one has the ability to defend, whether it be land, water, women, trade partners, or personal authority: whatever magic a king had he had strenuously to protect.


The magic was perceived in terms of another famous North African idea: baraka.34 Baraka has been analogized to a number of things in an attempt to clarify it--mana, charisma, "spiritual electricity"--because it is a gift of power more than natural which men, having received it, can use in as natural and pragmatical a way, for as self-interested and mundane purposes, as they wish. But what most defines baraka, and sets it off somewhat from these similar concepts, is that it is radically individualistic, a property of persons in the way strength, courage, energy, or ferocity are and, like them, arbitrarily distributed. Indeed, it is in one sense a summary term for these qualities, the active virtues that, again, enable some men to prevail over others. To so prevail, whether at court or in a mountain camp, was to demonstrate that one had baraka, that God had gifted one with the capacity to dominate, a talent it could quite literally be death to hide. It was not a condition, like chastity, or a trait, like pride, that shines by itself but a movement, like will, that exists in its impact. Like everything the king did, progresses were designed to make that impact felt, most particularly by those who might imagine their own to be comparable.


Rather than occasional or periodic--and therefore a schedule of set pieces--the Moroccan progress was very nearly continuous. "The king's throne is his saddle," one saying went, "the sky his canopy." "The royal tents are never stored," went another. The great late-seventeenth-to-early-eighteenth-century consolidator of the dynasty, the man who made its baraka real, Mulay Ismail, seems to have spent most of his reign "under canvas" (during the first half of it, a chronicler notes, he did not pass a single uninterrupted year in his palace); and even Mulay Hasan (d. 1894), the last of the old-regime kings of Morocco, normally spent six months of the year on the move, demonstrating sovereignty to skeptics.35 The kings did not even keep a single capital but instead shifted the court restlessly among the so-called Imperial Cities--Fez, Marrakech, Meknes, and Rabat--in none of which they were really at home. Motion was the rule, not the exception; and though a king could not, like God, quite be everywhere at once, he could try, at least, to give the impression that he was: "No one could be sure that the Sultan would not arrive at the head of his troops on the morrow. During such times the most adamant peoples were ready to negotiate with [his] officials and reach terms which suited the sovereign."36 Like its rivals, the center wandered: "Roam and you will confound adversaries," another Moroccan proverb runs, "sit and they will confound you."


The court-in-motion was referred to either as a mehalla, literally, "way station," "camp," "stopover," or as a harka, literally, "movement," "stirring," "action," depending upon whether one wanted to emphasize the governmental or military aspects of it. Normally the king would remain camped in an area for anywhere from several days to several months and would then move, by gradual stages, to another, where he would remain for a similar period, receiving local chieftains and other notables, holding feasts, sending out punitive expeditions when need be, and generally making his presence known. This last was hardly difficult, for a royal camp was an impressive sight, a great sea of tents, soldiers, slaves, animals, prisoners, armaments, and camp followers. Harris estimated that there were nearly 40,000 people in Mulay Hasan's encampment (a "strange mixture of boundless confusion and perfect order that succeeded each other in . . . quick succession") in the Tafilalt in 1893, and fifty or sixty tents within the royal compound alone. Even as late as 1898, when all this was more or less drawing to a close, Weisgerber speaks of "thousands of men and beasts" in Mulay Abdul Aziz's encampment in the Chaouia, which he also describes, less romantically, as a vast lake of infected mud.37


The mobility of the king was thus a central element in his power; the realm was unified--to the very partial degree that it was unified and was a realm--by a restless searching-out of contact, mostly agonistic, with literally hundreds of lesser centers of power within it. The struggle with local big men was not necessarily violent or even usually so (Schaar quotes the popular maxim that the king employed ninety-nine ruses, of which firearms were but the hundredth), but it was unending, especially for an ambitious king, one who wished to make a state--one scuffle, one intrigue, one negotiation succeeded by another.38 It was an exhausting occupation, one only the tireless could pursue. What chastity was to Elizabeth, and magnificence to Hayam Wuruk, energy was to Mulay Ismail or Mulay Hasan: as long as he could keep moving, chastening an opponent here, advancing an ally there, the king could make believable his claim to a sovereignty conferred by God. But only that long. The traditional shout of the crowds to the passing king, Allāh ybarak f-˓amer Sīdī--"God give you baraka forever, my Master"--was more equivocal than it sounds: "forever" ended when mastery did.


There is no more poignant example of the degree to which this fact dominated the consciousness of Morocco's rulers, and no bitterer witness to its truth, than the terrible last progress of Mulay Hasan. Frustrated by the failure of his administrative, military, and economic reforms to bear fruit, threatened on all sides by intruding European powers, and worn out by twenty years of holding the country together by the main force of his personality, he decided, in 1893, to lead a massive expedition to the shrine of his dynasty's founder in the Tafilalt, a desert-edge oasis three hundred miles south of Fez. A long, arduous, dangerous, expensive journey, undertaken in the face of what seems to have been nearly universal advice to the contrary, it was quite possibly the greatest mahalla ever made in Morocco--a dramatic, desperate, and, as it turned out, disastrous effort at self-renewal.


The expedition, of thirty thousand men drawn from the loyal tribes of the Atlantic Plain, mounted mostly on mules, left Fez in April, crossed the middle and high Atlases in the summer and early autumn, and arrived in the Tafilalt in November.39 Since only one European, a French doctor, was permitted to go along, and he was an indifferent observer (there do not seem to be any native accounts), we do not know much about the trip except that it was grueling. Aside from the simply physical obstacles (the highest passes reached nearly eight thousand feet, and the road was hardly more than a trail scratched across the rocks), the burden of baggage, tents, and armaments (even cannons were dragged along), and the logistical problems involved in feeding so many people and animals, the whole area was dotted with contentious Berber tribes, who had to be prevented, half with threats and half with bribes, occasionally with force, from "eating the caravan." But though there were some difficult moments and the expedition was seriously delayed, nothing particularly untoward seems to have happened. The sheikhs came, accompanied by dozens of tribesmen; royal hospitality was extended; and, amid flamboyant riding and shooting displays, gifts were exchanged, tea drunk, bulls sacrificed, taxes gathered, and loyalty promised. It was only after the shrine had been reached and the prayers accomplished that the trouble began.


It is likely that the king, his timetable disrupted by the slowness of the Atlas passage and his army fevered and malnourished, would have preferred to remain in the oasis through the winter, but a combination of factors caused him to stay less than a month. The Berber tribes were still a worry, particularly as the southern ones were even more belligerent; there was a fear of assassination by French agents directed from southern Algeria; and there were reports of severe fighting between Moroccans and Spaniards at the other, Mediterranean, end of the country. But perhaps the most important factor in the decision to try to make it back to the plains at so unsuitable a time was Mulay Hasan's own failing powers. Harris, who saw him at Tafilalt, found him terribly aged from only two years earlier (he was apparently in his mid-forties)--tired, sallow, prematurely gray; and the same sense of lost momentum that propelled him south apparently turned him north again when his journey to his origins failed to restore it.


In any case, the expedition, now but about ten thousand strong, left in December for Marrakech--three weeks' march over the High Atlas to the east, through a region even more forbidding, geographically and politically, than that through which it had already passed. In addition, it was winter now, and the whole affair soon turned into a retreat from Moscow:


By the time his army had reached the foothills the winter snows had begun; as they climbed higher into the main massif more and more of the camels, mules and horses, weak with starvation, stumbled into deep snowdrifts and died. Little but their carcasses stood between the remnants of the harka and starvation, and the surviving beasts staggered on and upwards laden with what little meat could be salvaged from the corpses of their companions. The army was attended by clouds of ravens, kites and vultures. Hundreds of men died daily, they were left unburied in the snow, stripped of whatever rags they had still possessed.40


By the time Marrakech was reached, more than a third of the already reduced army had been lost; and the himself rather mobile Harris (he was the London Times correspondent), who was on hand for the arrival, found the king no longer merely aging but dying:


What was noticeable at Tafilet was doubly apparent now. The Sultan had become an old man. Travel-stained and weary, he rode his great white horse with its mockery of green-and-gold trapping, while over a head that was the picture of suffering waved the imperial umbrella of crimson velvet. Following him straggled into the city a horde of half-starved men and animals, trying to be happy that at last their terrible journey was at an end, but too ill and too hungry to succeed.41


The king remained in Marrakech until spring, attempting to regather his powers; but then, renewed anxiety about the deteriorating situation in the North, and the need for his presence there, set him in motion again. He had got as far as Tadla, about a hundred miles from Marrakech, when he collapsed and died. The death was, however, concealed by his ministers. They were concerned that, with the king gone, the caravan would dissolve and the tribes fall upon it and that conspirators supporting other candidates would contrive to prevent the accession of Mulay Hasan's chosen successor, his twelve-year-old son, Mulay Abdul Aziz. So he was represented as being merely indisposed and resting privately, his corpse was laid in a curtained palanquin, and the expedition was launched into a forced march, brutal in the summer heat, toward Rabat. Food was brought to the king's tent and then taken away again as though consumed. The few knowledgeable ministers hurried in and out of his presence as though conducting business. A few local sheikhs, cautioned that he was sleeping, were even permitted to look in upon him. By the time that the progress neared Rabat, two days later, the king's corpse had so begun to stink that his death announced itself; but by then the dangerous tribes had been left behind, and Abdul Aziz, his backers informed of events by a runner, had been proclaimed king in the city. In two more days the company, largely reduced to the old king's ministers and personal bodyguard--the others having drifted away or straggled behind--limped into Rabat, engulfed in the stench of royal death:


It must have been a gruesome procession from the description his son Mulai Abdul Aziz gave me [ Walter Harris wrote]: the hurried arrival of the swaying palanquin bearing its terrible burden, five days dead in the great heat of summer; the escort, who had bound scarves over their faces--but even this precaution could not keep them from constant sickness--and even the mules that bore the palanquin seemed affected by the horrible atmosphere, and tried from time to time to break loose.42

And so, its motion spent, the progress that had begun more than a year before ended, and with it two decades of rushing about from one corner of the country to another, defending the idea of religious monarchy. Indeed, this was more or less the end of the whole pattern; for the next two kings--one of whom reigned for fourteen years, the other for four--attempted only a few rather desultory harkas in a rapidly disintegrating situation, and the French, who took over after them, made palace prisoners of the two kings who followed. Immobilized, Moroccan kings were as dead as Hasan, their baraka impotent and theoretical. It was neither as embodiments of redemptive virtue nor as reflections of cosmic order but as explosions of divine energy that Moroccan kings recommended themselves to their subjects, and even the smallest explosion needs room in which to happen.





Now, the easy reaction to all this talk of monarchs, their trappings, and their peregrinations is that it has to do with a closed past, a time, in Huizinga's famous phrase, when the world was half-a-thousand years younger and everything was clearer. All the golden grasshoppers and bees are gone; monarchy, in the true sense of the word, was ritually destroyed on one scaffold in Whitehall in 1649 and on another in the Place de la RÈvolution in 1793; the few fragments left in the Third World are just that--fragments, relic kings whose likelihood of having successors diminishes by the hour.43 England has a second Elizabeth, who may be as chaste--more so, probably--as the first, and who gets properly lauded on public occasions, but the resemblance rather ends there; Morocco has a second Hasan, but he is more a French colonel than an Arab prince; and the last of the great line of Javanese Indic kings, Hamengku Buwono IX, his royal office legally abolished, is ( 1977) the self-effacing, rather ineffectual, vaguely socialist vice-president of the Indonesian Republic, around whom not even the smallest planets revolve.


Yet, though all this is true enough, it is superficial. The relevance of historical fact for sociological analysis does not rest on the proposition that there is nothing in the present but the past, which is not true, or on easy analogies between extinct institutions and the way we live now. It rests on the perception that though both the structure and the expressions of social life change, the inner necessities that animate it do not. Thrones may be out of fashion, and pageantry too; but political authority still requires a cultural frame in which to define itself and advance its claims, and so does opposition to it. A world wholly demystified is a world wholly depoliticized; and though Weber promised us both of these--specialists without spirit in a bureaucratic iron cage--the course of events since, with its Sukarnos, Churchills, Nkrumahs, Hitlers, Maos, Roosevelts, Stalins, Nassers, and de Gaulles, suggests that what died in 1793 (to the degree that it did) was a certain view of the affinity between the sort of power that moves men and the sort that moves mountains, not the sense that there is one.


The "political theology" (to revert to Kantorowicz's term) of the twentieth century has not been written, though there have been glancing efforts here and there. But it exists--or, more exactly, various forms of it exist--and until it is understood at least as well as that of the Tudors, the Majapahits, or the Alawites, a great deal of the public life of our times is going to remain obscure. The extraordinary has not gone out of modern politics, however much the banal may have entered; power not only still intoxicates, it still exalts.


It is for this reason that, no matter how peripheral, ephemeral, or free-floating the charismatic figure we may be concerned with--the wildest prophet, the most deviant revolutionary--we must begin with the center and with the symbols and conceptions that prevail there if we are to understand him and what he means. It is no accident that Stuarts get Cromwells and Medicis Savonarolas--or, for that matter, that Hindenburgs get Hitlers. Every serious charismatic threat that ever arose in Alawite Morocco took the form of some local power figure's laying claim to enormous baraka by engaging in actions--siba, literally, "insolence"--designed to expose the weakness of the king by showing him up as unable to stop them; and Java has been continuously beset by local mystics emerging from meditative trances to present themselves to the world as its "Exemplary Ruler" (Ratu Adil), corrective images of a lost order and an obscured form.44 This is the paradox of charisma: that though it is rooted in the sense of being near to the heart of things, of being caught up in the realm of the serious, a sentiment that is felt most characteristically and continuously by those who in fact dominate social affairs, who ride in the progresses and grant the audiences, its most flamboyant expressions tend to appear among people at some distance from the center, indeed often enough at a rather enormous distance, who want very much to be closer. Heresy is as much of a child of orthodoxy in politics as it is in religion.


And both orthodoxy and heresy, however adept the secret police, are universal, as we learn when workers explode in East Germany, Tolstoyan romantics reappear in Russia, or, strangest of all, soldier-populists surface in Portugal. The enfoldment of political life in general conceptions of how reality is put together did not disappear with dynastic continuity and divine right. Who gets What, When, Where, and How is as culturally distinctive a view of what politics is, and in its own way as transcendental, as the defense of "wisedom and rightwiseness," the celebration of "The Daymaker's Equal," or the capricious flow of baraka. Nor is it any less capable of yielding spectacle, center-praising or center-challenging:


I accompany the Humphrey press to one of Hubert's stops, a school for handicapped children, for the deaf and the retarded. He shakes hands with every single Sister. Every one. And every child he can reach. Schedule allows for twenty minutes. Thirteen used for shaking hands. The talk goes on for twenty minutes, on for twenty-five, on for thirty. The hands of the poor priest who is trying to translate into sign language are wearing out . . . thirty-five minutes--another man takes over as translator . . . "And some of the greatest men in history had handicaps"--he tries to think of one, his eyes flash, cheeks acquire that familiar beaming, knowing look.--"Thomas Edison. We all have handicaps . . ." "What's the most important word in the English language?" "Service!" "And the other most important word is 'love!'" "And what are the last four letters in the word American? I CAN. Look at them. Spell it. I can. You can. You're great. You're wonderful. God bless you." The tears are in the corners of his eyes, the tears that cause him such grief on television. His head chucks up and down happily as he wades back through the crowd of distracted, uncertain, uncomprehending kids.

In Madison Square Garden, then, on July 14, a celebration of moral purity is held. "Together with McGovern at the Garden," it is called. Its purpose is to raise funds. Mike Nichols and Elaine May come back together just for the event; so do Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Simon and Garfunkel. The contrast between such a rally and a Wallace rally--or, say, a gathering of Bob Hope and Billy Graham for Richard Nixon--explodes the circuits of the mind. Comparative liturgies! June 14 is Flag Day. But there are no flags on stage. No flags surround the Garden. The evening celebrates the resurrection of the youth culture. The liturgy of a new class is performed. Peter, Paul, and Mary, Dionne Warwick, Simon and Garfunkel in every song celebrate the mobile, lonely, vulnerable, middle-class life. Dionne Warwick warbles in blue-flowered, cottony, innocent, white gown: "Imagine!--No heaven--no hell--no countries--no religions! When the world will live as one." Simon and Garfunkel offer "Jesus loves you, Mrs. Robinson!" and the most revealing line: "I'd rather be a hammer than a nail." No Lawrence Welk. No Johnny Cash. No Benny Goodman. The music is singlemindedly sectarian. At 11:05, the entire cast gathers on stage, flashing peace signs. Then a great chant goes up: WE WANT MCGOVERN!" "It's a wonderful night of coming together," McGovern says. He tells them how he "loves this country enough to hold it to a higher standard, away from the killing, death, and destruction now going on in Southeast Asia.""I love this land and cherish its future. I want to set about making this country a great, decent, and good land . . . to be a bridge from war to peace . . . a bridge across the generation gap . . . a bridge across the gaps in justice in this country. . . . As the prophet wrote: 'Therefore, choose life . . . be on the side of blessing, not cursing' . . . on the side of hope, health, life. And peace for ourselves and peoples all around the globe."

At Racine, the rally is on again, this time in Memorial Hall, well after working hours and publicized through radio spots. The crowd assembles early; some are turned away at the door. 1200 sit inside, 330 in the balcony, standing room for 250. Excitement crackles. The loudspeakers are tuned just right, then turned up louder. "I've laid around and played around this ole town too long." Billy Grammer is singing, his blue eyes flashing. And: "Horseshoe diamond ring." Mr. Karl Prussian, twelve years a counterspy, is introduced by George Magnum, in the latter's high nasal best: "If you've been followin' the Conservative movement in the U.S., you'll know the man ah'm about to intr'duce to you." "George Wallace," Karl Prussian says, "is a man of God." "God bless you!" George Magnum says. We're in Protestant territory now and the symbols are colliding, and sparks are shooting. It's meetin' time, and everyone's at ease. George Wallace, Jr., his hair as long as John Lennon's, swings out gently. He flourishes his dark electric guitar, tenderly, with restraint. No wild vulgar rock, no Mick Jagger here, but son of a man misunderstood, a young, patient, and determined Alabaman. "Gentle on my mind . . ." is his first number, and his second is: "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die." Then the Governor, half-reluctant, half-jubilant, explodes across the stage. Pandemonium. He likes the crowd. His eyes begin to shine. Nervousness falls away and his movements become fluid, confident. Each gesture draws a response. "I tell you we're gonna give St. Vitus dance to the leadership of the Democratic party." "Ah'm sick of permissiveness in this society. Ah'm tired of false liberals!" "Ah'm sick'n' tired of giving up 50 percent of my income to the United States, to waste half of it overseas on nations that spit on us and half of it on welfare." "An' now they tell us Vietnam was a mistake. A mistake that cost the average citizen 50,000 lives, 300,000 wounded, 120 billion dollars down the drain. Ah don' call that a mistake. It's a tragedy." Like David Halberstam, he puts the blame upon the best and brightest--"them." This is how the run our lives.45

So the progresses continue. If the material were from Germany or France, India or Tanzania (to say nothing of Russia or China), the idiom would be different, as would the ideological assumptions upon which it rested. But there would be an idiom, and it would reflect the fact that the charisma of the dominant figures of society and that of those who hurl themselves against that dominance stem from a common source: the inherent sacredness of central authority. Sovereignty may rest now in states or even in the populations of states, as Humphrey, McGovern, and Wallace alike assume; but the "vast universality" that inheres in it remains, whatever has become of the will of kings. Neither nationalism nor populism has changed that. It is not, after all, standing outside the social order in some excited state of self-regard that makes a political leader numinous but a deep, intimate involvement--affirming or abhorring, defensive or destructive--in the master fictions by which that order lives.





For an excellent general review of the issue, see S. N. Eisenstadt introduction to his collection of Weber charisma papers, Max Weber on Charisma and Institution Building ( Chicago, 1968), pp. ix-lvi. For the psychologization of "legitimacy," see H. Pitkin, Wittgenstein and Justice ( Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1972); for "inner-worldly asceticism," D. McClelland, The Achieving Society ( Princeton, 1961); for "rationalization," A. Mitzman, The Iron Cage ( New York, 1970). All this ambiguity and even confusion of interpretation are, it should be said, not without warrant in Weber's own equivocalness.


For some examples, see "Philosophers and Kings: Studies in Leadership," Daedalus, Summer 1968.


P. Rieff, The Triumph of the Therapeutic ( New York, 1966).


E. Shils, "Charisma, Order, and Status," American Sociological Review, April 1965; idem, "The Dispersion and Concentration of Charisma," in Independent Black Africa, ed. W. J. Hanna ( New York, 1964); idem, "Centre and Periphery," in The Logic of Personal Knowledge: Essays Presented to Michael Polanyi ( London, 1961).


E. Kantorowicz, The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology ( Princeton, 1957); R. E. Giesey, The Royal Funeral Ceremony in Renaissance France ( Geneva, 1960); R. Strong , Splendor at Court: Renaissance Spectacle and the Theater of Power ( Boston, 1973); M. Walzer, The Revolution of the Saints ( Cambridge, Mass., 1965); M. Walzer, Regicide and Revolution ( Cambridge, England, 1974); S. Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry, and Early Tudor Policy ( Oxford, 1969); D. M. Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, 1558-1642 ( London, 1971); F. A. Yates , The Valois Tapestries ( London, 1959); E. Straub, Repraesentatio Maiestatis oder Churbayerische Freudenfeste ( Munich, 1969); G. R. Kernodle, From Art to Theatre ( Chicago, 1944). For a recent popular book on the American presidency in this vein, see M. Novak, Choosing Our King ( New York, 1974). Anthropological studies, especially those done in Africa, have of course been sensitive to such issues for a long time (for an example: E. E. Evans-Pritchard , The Divine Kingship of the Shilluk of the Nilotic Sudan [ Cambridge, England, 1948]), and both E. Cassirer Myth of the State ( New Haven, 1946) and M. Bloch Les rois thaumaturges ( Paris, 1961) have to be mentioned, along with Kantorowicz, as seminal. The internal quotation is from N. Ward, as given in the OED under "Numinous."


There are a number of descriptions of Elizabeth's London progress (or "entry"), of which the fullest is Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, pp. 11-23. See also R. Withington, English Pageantry: An Historical Outline. vol. 1 ( Cambridge, Mass., 1918), pp. 199-202; and Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry. pp. 344-59. The text quotation is from Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry, p. 345. The city was resplendent too: "The houses on the way were all decorated; there being on both sides of the street, from Blackfriars to St. Paul's, wooden barricades on which merchants and artisans of every trade leant in long black gowns lined with hoods of red and black cloth . . . with all their ensigns, banners, and standards" (quotation from the Venetian ambassador to London, in Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, p. 14). For Mary and Philip's 1554 entry, see Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry, pp. 324-43, and Withington, English Pageantry, p. 189.


Quoted in Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, p. 17. The queen is supposed to have replied: "I have taken notice of your good meaning toward mee, and will endeavour to Answere your severall expectations" (ibid., p. 18 ).


Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry, p. 349.


Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, p. 15.


The quotation is given in Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry, p. 350.


Grafton, quoted in ibid., p. 352. He was not unprescient: Deborah ruled for forty years, Elizabeth for forty-five.


The quotation is from Strong, Splendor at Court, p. 84.


For Elizabeth's progresses outside London, see Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, pp. 25 ff.; Withington, English Pageantry, pp. 204 ff.


Strong, Splendor at Court, p. 84. The progress was, of course, an all-European phenomenon. Emperor Charles V, for example, made ten to the Low Countries, nine to Germany, seven to Italy, six to Spain, four to France, two to England, and two to Africa, as he reminded his audience at his abdication (ibid., p. 83 ). Nor was it confined to the sixteenth century: for fifteenth-century Tudor ones, see Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry, pp. 21 ff.; for seventeenth-century Stuart ones, see Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, pp. 65 ff., and Strong, Splendor at Court, pp. 213 ff.


Yates, The Valois Tapestries, p. 92.


Bergeron, English Civic Pageantry, p. 21.


Java was Hindu from about the fourth century to about the fifteenth, when it became at least nominally Islamized. Bali remains Hindu until today. Much of what follows here is based on my own work; see C. Geertz Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali ( Princeton, 1980). For Hindu Java generally, see N. J. Krom, Hindoe-Javaansche Geschiedenis, 2d ed. ( The Hague, 1931).


T. Pigeaud, Java in the 14th Century: A Study in Cultural History, 5 vols. ( The Hague, 1963), 1:3 (Javanese); 3:3 (English). The chain actually continues downward through animals and demons.


Ibid., 1:90 (Javanese); 3:135 (English). I have made alterations in the translation for clarity. Even then, "sacred powers" and "The Supreme Nothingness" (that is, Siva-Buddha) remain weak renderings of difficult religious conceptions, a matter not pursuable here. For an even more differentiated hierarchy, see the Nawantaya text, ibid., 3:119-28.


Ibid. (despite its title, the work is essentially a text, translation, and commentary of the Negarakertagama). Of the poem's 1,330 lines, no less than 570 are specifically devoted to descriptions of royal progresses, and the bulk of the rest are ancillary to those. Literally, "Negarakertagama" means "manual for the cosmic ordering of the state," which is what it is really about rather than, as has so often been assumed, the history of Majapahit. It was written in 1365 by a Buddhist cleric, resident in the court of King Hayam Wuruk (r. 1350-89).


Negarakertagama, canto 12, stanza 6. I have again reconstructed Pigeaud's English, this time more seriously, to convey better what I take to be the sense of the passage. On the mandala concept in Indonesia, where it means at once "sacred circle," "holy region," and "religious community," as well as being a symbol of the universe as such, see J. Gonda, Sanskrit in Indonesia (Nagpur, 1952), pp. 5, 131, 218, 227; Pigeaud, Java, 4:485-86. On this sort of imagery in traditional Asian states generally, see P. Wheatley, The Pivot of the Four Quarters ( Chicago, 1971).


Cantos 1-7. The royal family is also praised, as the first circle outward from the king. "Daymaker" is, of course, a metonym for the sun, identified with Siva-Buddha, "The Supreme Non-Entity" in Indic Indonesia.


Cantos 8-12. There is much controversy here over details (cf. W. F. Stutterheim, De Kraton van Majapahit [ The Hague, 1948]; H. Kern, Het Oud-Javaansche Lofdicht Negarakertagama van Prapanca [ The Hague, 1919]), and not all of them are clear. The pattern has in any case been simplified here (it really is a 16-84-point system about a center, and of course it is cosmological, not exactly geographical). "Ranking commoners" is an interpolation of mine on the basis of knowledge of later examples. "Junior king" does not indicate a dauphin but refers to the second-ranking line in the realm. This "double-king" system is general in Indonesian Indic states but is too complex to go into here. See my Negara for a full discussion.


Cantos 13 - 16.


Canto 92.


On the exaggeration of the size of Majapahit, see, with caution, C. C. Berg, "De SadËng oorlog en de mythe van Groot Majapahit," Indonesie 5 ( 1951): 385-422. See also my "Politics Past, Politics Present: Some Notes on the Uses of Anthropology in Understanding the New States," in C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures ( New York, 1973), pp. 327-41.


Canto 17. Other minor progresses, for special purposes, are also mentioned for the 1360s; see cantos 61 and 70.


Cantos 13 - 18. The directional system was integrated with a color symbolism, the four primary colors--red, white, black, and yellow--being disposed about a variegated center. The five days of the week, five periods of the day, and five life-cycle stages, as well as plants, gods, and a number of other natural and social symbolic forms, were fused into the same pattern, which was thus extremely elaborate, a picture of the whole cosmos.


Cantos 13 - 38, 55 - 60. Four or five stops are described in detail; but there must have been ten or fifteen times that many.


Canto 17, stanza 3. Again I have altered the translation; in particular I have rendered negara as "capital" rather than "town." For the multiple meanings of this word, see my Negara.


W. B. Harris, Morocco That Was ( Boston, 1921). The following discussion is confined to the period of the Alawite dynasty, that is, from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries (it still continues), with most of the material coming from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Again, I have depended heavily on my own research (see C. Geertz, Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia [ New Haven, 1968]); C. H. Geertz Geertz, and L. Rosen , Meaning and Order in Moroccan Society ( Cambridge, England, and New York, 1979).


The best study of the traditional Moroccan state is E. Aubin, Morocco of Today ( London, 1906). The term "tribe" is difficult of application in Morocco, where social groups lack stability and definition, See J. Berque, "Qu'est-ce qu'une 'tribu' nord-africaine?" in Eventail de l'histoire vivante: Hommage ý Lucien Febvre ( Paris, 1953).


See A. Bel, La Religion Musulmane en BerbÈrie, ( Paris, 1938), vol. 1; E. Gellner, Saints of the Atlas ( Chicago, 1969); C. Geertz, Islam Observed. Many of the ulemas and marabouts were also sharifs. On Moroccan sharifs in general, see E. LÈvi-ProvenÁal, Les Historiens des Chorfa ( Paris, 1922).


On baraka, see E. Westermarck, Ritual and Belief in Morocco, 2 vols. ( London, 1926); C. Geertz , Islam Observed.


On Mulay Ismail's truly astounding mobility, see O. V. Houdas, Le Maroc de 1631-1812 par Ezziani ( Amsterdam, 1969), pp. 24-55; text reference at p. 46. On Mulay Hasan, see S. Bonsai , Morocco As It Is ( New York and London, 1893), pp. 47 ff.; cf. Harris, Morocco That Was, pp. 1 ff.


S. Schaar, Conflict and Change in Nineteenth-Century Morocco (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1964), p. 72. The constant mobility also shaped, and similarly, the nature of the court: "The very life that the greater part of the members of the [court] must lead, uproots them and cuts them off from any contact with their tribe or their native town, and attaches them, to the exclusion of all other ties, to the institution on which they are dependent. The bulk of the [court] . . . centres around the Sultan, and becomes nomadic like him. Their life is passed under canvas, or else, at unequal intervals, in one of the imperial cities--constant change, in fact, and no ties anywhere. The horizon narrows, everything outside disappears, and the members of the [court] have no eye for anything but this powerful mechanism, mistress of their lives and their fortune" ( Aubin, Morocco of Today, p. 183).


W. B. Harris, Tafilet ( London, 1895), pp. 240-43; F. Weisgerber, Au Seuil du Maroc modern (Rabat, 1947), pp. 46-60 (where one can also find a plan of the camp). On the move it was no less impressive; for a vivid description, complete with snake charmers, acrobats, lepers, and men opening their heads with hatchets, see Harris, Morocco That Was, pp. 54-60. The harkas were multitribal enterprises, the core of which was composed of the so-called military --jaysh--tribes, who served the court as soldiers in return for land and other privileges. One can't resist one more proverb here: f-l-ḥarka, baraka: "There is blessing in movement."


Schaar, Conflict and Change in Morocco, p. 73. The violence mostly consisted of burning settlements and cutting off the heads of particularly recalcitrant opponents (which, salted by the Jews, were then displayed over the entrance to the king's tent or palace). Meditation, which was more common, was conducted by royal officials or, often, various sorts of religious figures, specialized for the task. Schaar (ibid., p. 75) remarks that kings, or anyway wise ones, took care not to be overly harsh: "The ideal was to hit the enemy lightly, collect tribute payments, establish a firm administration in their midst, and move on to the next target."


Material on the Tafilalt mehalla can be found in Harris, Tafilet, pp. 213 ff.; R. Lebel, Les Voyageurs franÁais du Maroc ( Paris, 1936), pp. 215-20, R. Cruchet, La ConquÍte pacifique du Maroc et du Tafilalet, 2d ed. ( Paris, 1934), pp. 223-41; G. Maxwell, Lords of the Atlas ( New York, 1966), pp. 31-50; F. LinarËs, "Voyage au Tafilalet," Bulletin de l'Institut de la HygiËne du Maroc, nos. 3-4 ( 1932). Cf. R. E. Dunn, Resistance in the Desert ( Madison, Wisconsin, 1977), who stresses the king's desire to stabilize the Tafilalet against French incursion as a motive for the trip. Ten women of the royal harem also accompanied the king, and Cruchet estimates about 10,000 hangers-on, merchants, "et autres parasites qui sont la ranÁon d'une troupe, n'est pas une sinÈcure," as well ( La ConquÍte pacifique, p. 223).


Maxwell, Lords of the Atlas, pp. 39-40.


Harris, Tafilet, p. 333.


Harris, Morocco That Was, pp. 13-14; for a fuller description, see Harris, Tafilet, pp. 345-51.


For the argument concerning the ritual destruction of the monarchy, see Walzer, Regicide and Revolution. With Walzer's argument that the trials and executions of Charles and Louis were symbolic acts designed to kill not just kings but kingship, I am in agreement; concerning his further argument that they altered the whole landscape of English and French political life permanently and utterly--that is, that these rituals were availing--I am less convinced. The other wing of this sort of argument is, of course, that democracy makes the anthropomorphization of power impossible: "Die Repr”sentation [that is, of "majesty"] verlangt eine Hierarchie, die der Gleichheit des demokratischen Staates widerspricht, in der jeder B¸rger Soverain ist und Majestas hat. So aber alle K–nige sind, da kann keiner mehr als K–nig auftreten, und die Repr”sentation wird unm–glich" ( Straub, Repraesentatio Maiestatis, p. 10). But along with a number of other people, from Tocqueville to Talmon, I am not persuaded of this either.


For a description of some of the siba activities at the end of the Protectorate, see E. Burke, Prelude to Protectorate in Morocco ( Chicago, 1976). On ratu adil, see Sartono Kartodirdjo, Protest Movements in Rural Java ( Singapore, 1973).


Novak, Choosing Our King, pp. 211, 224-28, and 205-8. I have omitted, without indication, so as not to clutter the page with ellipses, large segments of these passages, and have repunctuated, reparagraphed, and even run some sentences together, both in the interests of brevity and to eliminate as many as possible of Novak's personal comments, some of which are extremely shrewd, others mere alternative clichÈs. Thus, though all the words are his (or those he is quoting), and nothing has been done to alter the meaning, these excerpts are better regarded " prÈcis than as true quotations. For a similarly vivid view of 1972 presidential campaign theatrics from another part of the forest, see H. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, '72 ( San Francisco, 1973).



Centers, kings and charisma: reflections on the symbolics of power, in: Ben-David, Joseph/ Clarke, Terry Nichols (eds.): Culture and its creators: essays in honor of Edward Shils. Chicago/Il./USA 1977: University of Chicago Press, pp. 150-171

cf. Local knowledge: further essays in interpretive anthropology. New-York/N.Y./USA etc. 1983: Basic Books, pp. 121-146


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