Arya Sentong & Ngusabe (Hauser-Schäublin, 1997)

Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin in 1997 wrote 'Traces of Gods and Men – Temples and Rituals as Landmarks of Social Events and Processes in South Bali Village'. Below article is a compilation of excerpts from this book. Hauser in much detail describes, among other subjects, the extensive relations between the deities and temples of Nusa Penida and the southern coast of mainland Bali. Below 'summarised' article gives a general idea of these relations with specific focus to Nusa Penida.

The main topic is the Arya Sentong, who play a pivotal role in the history of Nusa Penida; many descendants of this clan still reside there. Furthermore, Polaki, tantrism, Baris Cina & Barong Landung and 'ngusabe' or the propitiating rituals called 'pengangglup merana' are discussed, which take place all along the south coast of Bali. Inverted commas and page references are - wherever possible - used to indicate quoted text from her book, to do justice to her unrivalled writings. Additional remarks in the text by author Godi Dijkman are indicated in square brackets.

Balinese histories

Grader has noted: "Factual historiography is alien to the Balinese, and there is a tendency to mythologize important historical personages and events (...)". 'The diversity and multiplicity of Balinese views and voices about their past and the landmarks it left constitute what I call Balinese histories. Among them are what western scholars would probably call mythological histories or historical myths. In the context of Nusa Penida, it is impossible to draw a line between the 'mythic' and the 'non-mythic'.' (p.5-6)

Arya Sentong

hauser traces coverHauser describes the backdrop to which the histories of Intaran (Sanur) are set. Three different geographically different points of reference are important to understanding Intaran's past: Intaran, Kerthalangu (Kesiman) and Nusa Penida (Dalem Peed). (p.17) 'The founding of the village as desa, which at that time was called Mimba, was carried out by an immigrant satrya noble, I Gusti Kepandean, of Arya Sentong, in cooperation with a Brahmana (priest) in around 1650. The Arya Sentong were defeated and replaced by a second ruling dynasty, the house of Abian Timbul, a descendant of Arya Kenceng, around 1700-1750.'

'The history of the Arya Sentong, according to written and orally transmitted sources, is as follows: arriving in Bali, Arya Sentong settled close to the raja of Samprangan (Gianyar), according to the Babad Ida Arya (Ardini, 1983:19), this was in Pacung near Gelgel. Today, there is a village of Pacung near Gianyar. Friedrich (1877:52) mentioned that Pacung was the original appanage of the Arya Sentong, however located it near today's Marga. The village mentioned in connection with Arya Sentong is said nowadays to be Jempai.' (p.136)

'One of the sources - an oral account by the bendesa adat and the jero mangku of the Pura Agung in Perean, both descendants of Arya Sentong - reports that Arya Sentong later belonged to that army sent to war to Jawa to fight at the side of Blambangan. According to Graaf and Pigeaud (1976:19), Mataram troops defeated Blambangan in 1639. Following their account, the ruler of Blambangan was a relative of the Balinese King in Gelgel; this was why Balinese soldiers were sent in support of Blambangan's troops. Most of the soldiers from Bali lost their lives in this war, but two leaders of the Arya Sentong returned to Bali. They reported their defeat at the court in Gelgel. They were exiled to Nusa Penida with their relatives. This is said to have happened at the time of I Gusti Agung Maruti, who tried to seize the throne of Di Made in Gelgel (i.e., in the middle of the XVII century). Some members of the Arya Sentong left behind in Bali apparently supported the upstart. Apparently Agung Maruti's clan membership and origin are vague; see Vickers 1989:58. He refers (as does Schulte Nordholt 1988) to the kinship between the ruling families of Mengwi and Gusti Agung Maruti: "At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Mengwi ... emerged beside Klungkung as a major kingdom. From obscure beginnings as descendants of a branch of Gusti Agung Maruti's family, Mengwi suddenly appeared on the site of the old west Balinese capital of Kapal and soon eclipsed Panji Sakti's kingdom of Buleleng." Sentong is also related to the ruling family of Mengwi.' (p.138)

'According to a further account from Carangsari, the banishment to Nusa Penida occurred in the wake of innumerable fights between the raja Gelgel and Arya Sentong. This is said to have happened much earlier than the date stated in the first source. In Dutch sources, we read about an uprising against the raja of Gelgel in the year 1585 (Berg 1927:156). The rebels are said to have been banished to Nusa Penida.'

'In Nusa Penida, the Arya Sentong became followers of the raja there. Dalem Nusa, known also by the metaphor semadi (since he might have practiced yoga semadi). His palace stood in Dalem Peed, from where he again and again crossed over to South Bali - accompanied by Arya Sentong - to establish sanctuaries on some hills or to pray there, e.g., on Pucak Padang Dawa (Tabanan). According to this source (Babad Ida Arya; cf. Sukirtha 1983), the wife of the Dalem Nusa was called Ratu Ayu Mas Mecaling. She gave birth to twins of both sexes (a highly ominous sign, since it is supposed that brother and sister commit incest in the womb) (cf. Weck 1986: 123-125). The son was embarrassed in front of his father and separated from him. To this day descendants of the Arya Sentong live on Nusa Penida (oral communication, Marie Louise Nabholz-Kartaschoff, Basel).'

'Pura Pucak Padang Dawa is a temple complex in Baturiti (Tabanan). The name of this ground appears in connection with the traditions of the Arya Sentong and their relationship to the Dalem Nusa. According to these sources, the Dalem built mountain sanctuaries in Bali and prayed there before returning to Nusa Penida. According to Sukirtha (1983), on which the following statements are based, the temple dates from the fourteenth century. The source on which Sukirtha based this statement is the babad Ida Arya, a genealogical record also called babad Pemecutan. Evidently this date conflicts with others, mainly those related to Arya Sentong.' (p.140)

'The temple founding is ascribed to a raja from Nusa Penida, Ratu Ngurah Sakti, and his wife, Ida Ratu Ayu Mas Mecaling. Their patih was Arya Sentong. The temple on Pucak Mundi, the highest mountain of Nusa Penida, goes back to this raja, whose palace is thought to have been on Munduk Bias. From Nusa Penida, the raja and his wife, with the Arya Sentong, set out for Bali to practice yoga in different mountain sanctuaries. They built sacred grounds on several hills like those of Munduk Guling (Klungkung). The voyage took them far, apparently even to Lombok (Suranadi). The most western stop in Bali was Pucak Asah, today called Pucak Padang Dawa, where, where they stayed for some time and built a spring temple, Taman Sari. Afterwards, Ida Ratu Ngurah Sakti returned to Nusa Penida with his wife, where the wife gave birth to twins. The girl was called Ida Ratu Ayu Mas Meketel, the boy Ida Ratu Ngurah Made Sakti. A priest from Majalangu (Majapahit), Rsi Sagening, was invited to Nusa Penida to perform a ritual. He arrived with his two sisters. When he had performed the ceremony, he and his sisters went to Bali. Rsi Seganing stayed on Munduk Guling, one of his sisters in the Pura Taman, and the other on Pucak Bolong.'

Ida Ratu Ngurah Made Sakti wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and therefore went to Bali, accompanied by Sira Pacung Sakti. First he went to Munduk Guling, where he practiced yoga semadi under the direction of Rsi Seganing. He continued on to the Pura Puser Tasik, where he immersed himself in yoga semadi. From there, he watched smoke rise in the north; it was Pucak Asah. There he built a palace form himself, which he called Puri Pucak Asah. His younger sister, Ida Ratu Ayu Mas Meketel, who had been on Munduk Dingin, practiced yoga east of the place where her brother stayed. The place was called Asrama Rengreng. The spot where the asrama of the twins was found was called Bukit Kembar. Later Ida Ratu Ngurah Made Sakti died: he returned to the origin of all life. Rsi Sagening moved from Pucak Asah (Taman Sari) to Bukit Sangkur, and Pucak Asah became a forest.' (p.141)

'Today's temple of Padang Dawa in Baturiti has buildings relating to the very brief oral tradition: Ratu Ngurah Sakti (from Nusa Penida) has a shrine (with seven meru) in commemoration of his arrival in Bali, accompanied by Arya Sentong. The shrine is also a memorial to the fact that his son, Ratu Ngurah Made, committed moksa there. The group responsible for this temple at Baturiti is composed by descendants of the Arya Sentong/Pacung, i.e. former princely families of Perean, Kukuh, Belayu and Marga. Sukirtha (1983:42-43) points out that no Barong with a black feather garment is allowed to enter the temple. This ban goes back to an event described below.'

'When I Gusti Ngurah Sakti from Nusa Penida was in Bali to practice yoga, his wife, Ni Gusti Ayu Mas Mecaling, stayed in the Merajan Agung, the large household sanctuary on Nusa (presumably this refers to the palace/temple of Dalem Peed). While she was alone, a messenger from Jawa brought order for Gusti Ngurah Sakti to return to Jawa. Since Gusti Ayu Mas Mecaling did not have any meat to feed the (p.142) guest, she killed a pigeon belonging to Gusti Ngurah Sakti. When the latter returned, he noticed that his pigeon had disappeared, as had his two servants, I Lenjar and I Lenji. They had run off out of ear (because the killing of the pigeon?). On their flight, they tool along a black headscarf of Ni Gusti Ayu Mas Mecaling. People from Nusa went to look for them. On the way, I Lenjar and I Lenjir started to fight about the black headscarf of Ni Gusti Ayu Mas Mecaling. The messengers who had been sent out reported to I Gusti Ngurah Sakti and his wife the supernatural power the two servants had gained because of the headscarf. Thereupon Ni Gusti Ayu Mas Mecaling decreed that no Barong with a black feather garment or a black headscarf would be allowed to enter the Pura Luhur Pucak Padang Dawa. Barong with a garment made of crow's feathers are always associated with war and fighting; they are therefore thought to be especially dangerous and difficult to control.'

'The Arya Sentong group once existed, but over the course of time and events it changed its name to Pacung or joined a kinship group already existing under this name. In all the versions, it is also clear that Perean was the most famous important settlement of Arya Pacung. Also, all the versions associate Arya Sentong with Nusa Penida. If we try to chronologically determine this exile, it apparently happened before the establishment of the Mengwi kingdom (17th century). Since the decisive battles over Blambangan were fought between 1635 and 1639 and the usurpation of the thrown of Gelgel by Gusti Agung Maruti took place some years later, the exile must have begun in the middle of the 17th century.' (p.144)

'In connection with Blanjong, as well from the perspective of Nusa Penida itself, such relations, though probably much earlier, became apparent. These relationships seem to have existed independent of Samprangan or Gelgel. Presumably they were more ancent but regionally limited (i.e., they did not claim 'all of' Bali (p.145) or South Bali). It is interesting that the various stages of migration (such as the locations where yoga semadi was practiced or an asrama was established) are all in the interior of the island (of Bali), in the mountainous region. Pucak Padang Dawa is in a special position, and it would be very valuable to start archaeological investigations there.'

Relationships to North Bali: Panji and the Deity of Polaki

'The main altar of Pura Sindhu (Singaraja) is an open seat dedicated to Dalem Peed. During the temple festival, two symbols of gods (daksina) stand on it, one for Ratu Gede Mas Lingsir (sometimes also called Ratu Gede Mas Peed) and one for his wife, Ratu Mas Penyuluhat Jagat. It is said that her place of origin is the Pucak Mundi on Nusa Penida. The 'daughter' of Ratu Mas is the female Barong Landung figure of Sindhu kelod. The goddess Pulaki, called after the large temple of the same name on the north coast, also carries the name Ida Ayu Swabawa and is thought to be the daughter of the ancestor of the Brahmana in Bali, Dang Hyang Nirarta. The versions - mainly told by Brahmana - report that the Brahmana daughter disappeared near Polaki and never appeared again. She is said to have become the ruler of the invisible, wong samar. Her actual temple is said to be Pura Melanting. This deity plays an important role in in Sindhu. Her [12] children are called 'dewa alit' (puppets). During the darkest night of the Kapat month, they dance in the Pura Dalem Sindhu and are supposed to appease the approaching hordes from Nusa Penida.' (p.153)

The 'defeat' of Dalem Peed & Blahbatu

Regarding the defeat of Dalem Peed, 'the Mangku of Pura Pesamuan (Penataran) Sindhu stressed that Dalem Bungkut had not been killed. Dalem Gaduh (I Gusti Ngurah Jelantik) did not defeat Dalem Bungkut with weapons in a duel. His wife is said to have handed him a ciung, a secret fang, and only with this did he achieve his victory over Dalem Bungkut. Dalem Bungkut lost his strength through the ciung and thus his power. The kawitan of the Mangku and his family is in Blahbatu, the home of the victor over Dalem Bungkut. He calls himself a member of the Pedoman clan who once were the followers of I Gusti Ngurah Jelantik. This makes clear why the hero of the babad Blahbatu, I Gusti Ngurah Jelantik, and his origin play a role in this temple.' (p.158)

The deities of Dalem Peed & Trantrism

'As the histories of Nusa Penida and those relating to Arya Sentong have indicated, there must have been a socio-religious network of relationships between this offshore island and the region of today's Intaran. These included not only relationships between people but also those between gods. A number of temples in Nusa Penida and Bali still existing mainly along the beach of Intaran, give evidence of this fact. If one tries to locate these 'local deities' in a broader historical-religious context, they, and the rituals associated with them, especially the extensive 'trance' sessions, seem to belong to 'tantrism', which was not restricted to Buddhism but eventually also dominated Sivaitic schools. Bernet Kempers makes that tantristic elements existed in ancient Bali; the demonic" sculptures like those of Kebo Edan in Pejeng, which dates back to the XIII-XIV centuries, one of the pre-Majapahit royal courts in Bali, give evidence of this (1978:62).' (p.158-159)

Ngusabe: links between Intaran & Nusa Penida

baronglandung museumbalinov09Image left: Barong Landung, Jero Gede & Jero Luh, at Museum Bali (by Godi Dijkman, November 2009)

'The power of the beings from Dalem Peed is strong. Unlike other deities, they possess a while network of colonies. This may have become obvious from very different contexts: in connection with Blanjong, with the Arya Sentong and from a multitude of different temples in Intaran. Conversely, this connection to the southern coast of Bali is clear from the point of view of the traditions and the temples of Nusa Penida. In Intaran, all the spirits of the netherworld represented as Ratu Gede ('Barong Landung') originate from Nusa.' One example: at Pura 'Giri Kesuma or Pura Dalem Semawa (Sanur) lives Ratu Gede Sarah-Sarah, sometimes called Dalem Semawa, a deity from Nusa Penida. Set back from the platform guarded by two tigers is the Dalem part of the temple. The sculpture of the deity is Ratu Gede Semawa, also called Ratu Gede Sarah-Sarah who rides on a turtle, and has the marks of a deity of the netherworld: suggested fangs. One of the [patihs] is Dalem Sawang (Sahang), who, in the traditions of Nusa Penida, is regarded as the son of Dewi Rohini. Ratu Gede Sarah-Sarah's 'place of origin' was the Pura Dalem Kutampi in the village of the same name on Nusa Penida. There exists a cycle of rituals, ngusabe, than bind together the three most important temples of Nusa Penida (from a South Bali perspective): Pura Peed, Pura Dalem Kutampi (located in between the two local halves of the island), and Pura Batu Medahu.' Curiously perhaps, 'Pura Batu Medahu seems to be of almost no importance in the temples of Badung, while Pura Peed is represented in many of them. Ngusabe are, significantly, purification rituals dedicated to the gods of the netherworld.' (p.168-169)

'On Purnama Kenam, which comes late October and early December, the propitiating ritual (pengangglup merana) for the sea gods and the feared guests from Nusa Penida takes place. It aims at placating the hordes from Nusa when they set out on their yearly war campaign around the world (of Bali) to cause people to become ill, to kill them, and take their souls back home. The fears and fantasies people have about the fate of those who are seized and dragged to Nusa Penida resemble the contents of the histories, which describe the cannibalistic feast among the gods of Nusa Penida. It is the army of Ratu Gede Mecaling, whose appearance at the turn of the dry season to the rainy season turns into the frightening figure (like a Barong Landung). Only at this time are his fangs gold coloured (therefore, he is also called Ratu Gede Mas Mecaling; mas = gold). When he wants to catch souls above all, by spreading cholera - he is welcomed to Bali in various places (cf. Kaaden 1936 for Gianyar).'

'The time is usually at the beginning of the rainy period. According to Balinese concepts, the half year of the spirits of the netherworld starts then, the season of suffering, of sickness and dying. But the fields are also threatened then by epidemics and plagues. In Gianyar, not only offerings take place but, at least at the time of Kaaden, also hunts for rats, which were then burned by the people together in a mass cremation. In a central spot in Intaran, the major crossroads in front the Pura Bale Agung, pengangglup merana (also called ngusabe) takes place to divert dangers from people, animals and plants.' (p.171-172)

The Barong Landung, the tall and monster-like brown Jero Gede with luscious, wild, black hair, accompanied with his wife, the white-faced Jero Luh, sometimes occur in processions in Bali and appear in the context of pengangglup merana or Ngusaba various times, as explained above. Hence the rituals associated with 'pengangglup merana', the deities connected to Ratu Gede Mecaling, the feared hordes of 'wong samar', and Baris Cina (see below), all seem connected.

Baris Cina

'The Baris Cina [dance] is associated with the netherworldly deities, those of the sea in general and of the off-shore island Nusa Penida in particular.' It is performed at the Candi Bentar of Pura Giri Kesuma or Pura Dalem Semawa at Sanur. 'The Baris Cina group from Semawang arrives to pray and be blessed. This is a group more or less representing an 'off-shore' of the Ratu Tuan formation of Renon. Its original temple, where it attained taksu (spiritual 'power'), was the Pura Kesuma Jati a few hundred meters from the Pura Kesuma Sari. As soon as the dancers fall into trance, they are held down by men, carried into the Dalem part of the jeroan and sprinkled with holy water and incense. There the deities start to speak through the dancers. They transmit messages, wishes, and like other deities, they occasionally criticize the festival.' (p.172)

A partial description of the ritual: 'The assembled community is oriented toward the sea, toward the site on the beach where the waves surge up. The prayers are directed, among others, to the gods of the sea, especially Beruna, Catur Segara, Ratu Gede Sarah-Sarah, Ratu Gede Manik Segara, Jero Ling and others. The gods start to descend; a kulit cries and asks for offerings. He gets up. Companies follow him with offerings as well as with dapdap branch and a reed. The group starts to move. Almost at a trot they head along the sandy beach toward the Pura Cemara Gesang. On the shore in front of the temple, the group stops, puts burning incense sticks into the ground, and makes offerings in the direction of the sea. Arak and Brem are poured out in front of the kulit representing Ratu Gede Mecaling and Rau Liat Poleng (both from Nusa Penida). We have reached the 'landing place' where these deities from Nusa arrive with their ships.'

References (Hauser) mentioned in above article

  • Babad Blahbatu - Sugriwa, I Gusti Bagus (ed.); Denpasar: Pustaka Dharma, 1958
  • Ardini, Ni Made Sri - "Pura Agung" di Puri Oka, Marga, Tabanan; Denpasar: Institut Hindu Dharma, 1983
  • Berg, Cornelis Christiaan - De Middeljavaansche Historische Traditie; Santpoort: Mees, 1927
  • Friedrich, R. - An account of the island of Bali (Part 3), Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. New Series (X) December, London, Trübner, p.49-97, 1877
  • Graaf, H.J. de & T.G.Th. Pigeaud - Islamic States in Java 1500-1700, Den Haag, Martinus Nijhoff, 1976
  • Grader, C.I. Dorpsbestuur en Tempelbeheer op Noesa Penida, Djawa 17 (5/6), p.372-391, 1937b
  • Kaaden, W.F. van der - Nangloek Merana in Gianjar; Djawa 16 (1): 123-128, 1936
  • Kempers, Bernard - ? 1978
  • Schulte Nordholt, Henk - Een Balische Dynastie. Hiërarchie en Conflict in de Negara Mengwi 1700-1940. (PhD) Thesis VU Amsterdam, 1988
  • Sukirtha, I Ketut - Pura Luhur Pucak Puacak Dawa di Banjar Apitjeh, Baturiti, Tabanan; Denpasar: Institut Hindu Dharma, 1983
  • Vickers, Adrian - Bali, A Paradise Created. Berkely, Singapore, Periplus, 1989
  • Weck, Wolfgang - Heilkunde und Volkstum auf Bali; Jakarta P.T. Intermasa, 1986 (1937)


  • Hauser-Schäublin, Brigitta - Traces of Gods and Men – Temples and Rituals as Landmarks of Social Events and Processes in South Bali Village, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1997

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