Usually they begin toward late afternoon and run

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Usually they begin toward late afternoon and run three or four hours untilsunset. About nine or ten separate matches (sehet) comprise a program. Each
match is precisely like the others in general pattern: there is no main match,no connection between individual matches, no variation in their format, andeach is arranged on a completely ad hoc basis. After a fight has ended andthe emotional debris is cleaned away-the bets paid, the curses cursed, thecarcasses possessed- seven, eight, perhaps even a dozen men slip negligentlyinto the ring with a cock and seek to find there a logical opponent for it. Thisprocess, which rarely takes less than ten minutes, and often a good deallonger, is conducted in a very subdued, oblique, even dissembling mannerThose not immediately involved give it at best but disguised, sidelongattention; those who, embarrassedly, are, attempt to pretend somehow thatthe whole thing is not really happening.A match made, the other hopefuls retire with the same deliberateindifference, and the selected cocks have their spurs (tadji) affixed- razorsharp, pointed steel swords, four or five inches long. This is a delicate jobwhich only a small proportion of men, a half-dozen or so in most villages,know how to do properly. The man who attaches the spurs also provides them,and if the rooster he assists wins its owner awards him the spur-leg of thevictim. The spurs are affixed by winding a long length of string around the footof the spur and the leg of the cock. For reasons I shall come to, it is donesomewhat differently from case to case, and is an obsessively deliberateaffair. The lore about spurs is extensive-they are sharpened only at eclipsesand the dark of the moon, should be kept out of the sight of women, and soforth. And they are handled, both in use and out, with the same curiouscombination of fussiness and sensuality the Balinese direct toward ritualobjects generally.The spurs affixed, the two cocks are placed by their handlers (who may ormay not be their owners) facing one another in the center of the ring. Acoconut pierced with a small hole is placed in a pail of water, in which it takesabout twenty-one seconds to sink, a period known as a tjeng and marked atbeginning and end by the beating of a slit gong. During these twenty-oneseconds the handlers (pengangkeb) are not permitted to touch their roosters.If, as sometimes happens, the animals have not fought during this time, theyare picked up, fluffed, pulled, prodded, and otherwise insulted, and put backin the center of the ring and the process begins again. Sometimes they refuseto fight at all, or one keeps running away, in which case they are imprisonedtogether under a wicker cage, which usually gets them engaged.Most of the time, in any case, the cocks fly almost immediately at one anotherin a wing-beating, head-thrusting, leg-kicking explosion of animal fury so pure,so absolute, and in its own way so beautiful, as to be almost abstract, aPlatonic concept of hate. Within moments one or the other drives home a solidblow with his spur. The handler whose cock has delivered the blowimmediately picks it up so that it will not get a return blow, for if he does not

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