DENPASAR (indo.com): At one time the island of Bali was
occupied by a unique ethnic group, the members of which,
filed and blackened their teeth. They lived in small communities
- family clans ruled by a council of elders who were also
priests of their religion, which centered on the worship
of powerful forces of nature, and especially those of their
ancestors, with whom they continued to live as a great family
of both the dead and the living.
Occasionally, by means of sacrifice, they brought their
ancestral spirits down to Earth to protect them. They buried
their dead or simply abandoned them in the jungle to be
carried away by the spirits, and it is possible that they
ate parts of the bodies in order to absorb the magic power
inherent in their ancient headmen.
The descendants of these people call themselves Bali Aga,
meaning original Balinese. They lived isolated and independent
in the mountains where they found refuge from imperialistic
invaders. Hidden in the hills of East Bali lies the village
of Tenganan, where the most conservative of the Bali Aga
preserve the old traditions with the greatest zeal.
Tenganan is an isolated community, socially and economically
separated from the rest of Bali. It is shut off from the
world by a solid wall that surrounds the entire village.
The wall is meant to keep outsiders away, and it is broken
by means of four gates, facing north, south, east and west
respectively. Within these walls lies a banyan tree surrounded
by a low wall of uncut stones, providing the small enclosure
for a very sacred temple.
Unlike the rest of the villages in Bali, there is hardly
any vegetation around the houses of Tenganan, which are
all exactly alike. They are arranged in rows on each side
of stone - paved avenues. In the central place is the council
house where the elders meet. This council house is some
seventy feet long, strongly built and apparently very old.
Farther along are other buildings for public use. The dwellings
in Tenganan are all exactly the same. A flight of steps
leads to a small gate which opens into a court where the
sleeping - quarters the kitchen, and a long house for storage
are all located. There is also a small empty shrine where
the spirits may rest when they visit their descendants.
The people of Tenganan are tall and slender in a rather
ghostly way with white skins and refined manners. The majority
of the men still wear their hair long. They live in a communistic
system in which individual ownership of property is not
recognized.The village of Tenganan owns enormous tracts
of fertile and well - cultivated lands that fill every need
of the village and make it one of the richest in the island
Tenganan is one of Bali's most ancient and most unique villages.
It is located in the eastern part of Bali, 17 kilometers
from Amlapura, the center city of Karangasem Regency, and
approximately 65 kilometers drive to the east from Denpasar.
Accessible by public transport, car and motorbike, the trip
to Tenganan is exhilerating, traversing winding roads through
The uniqueness of Tenganan to this day provides a considerable
draw card for tourists, foreign and domestic alike, who
come to witness the ancient and original Balinese who continue
to practice their unique culture to this day. One of the
local customs that has been particularly popular among tourists
is that of the ritual blood sacrifice; in which all the
locals get involved in an annual ritual combat. Using thorny
pandan leaves, each combatant hits their opponent with the
aim of drawing blood. Locally known as "mekare kare", the
ritual fight is held whenever there is a temple ceremony
is Tenganan, which tends to fall in the fifth month of the
duel must be real fighting and of course one of two must
injure and draw blood from the other. So all the participants
must be well - prepared. They carry weapons including a
shield made from woven rotan and a bundle of thorny pandan
leaves, which are used to scratch the opponent's skin until
Before this ritual duel begins, participants drink rice
wine or the local palm known as tuak. In this context, drinking
is a symbol of brotherhood and sportsmanship. When the selonding
music sounds everybody cheers and shouts and some even yell
insults at their opponents in order to instill fear in them.
Judged by a mediator, usually a prominent figure of the
village, the fight usually lasts for between 5 up to 10
minutes fighting. He who is first scratched with the thorny
pandan leaf is considered the loser, and the pair are thereupon
broken up by the mediator.
The duel is neither based upon nor spawns any ill will among
participants. After the fighting the injured party is treated
with traditional liquid medicines and the wounds will heal.
While the fighters recover, other villagers prepare food,
as an elaborate feast must follow the sacrifice of human
blood. (Bali Echo)