Noesa Penida (Korn, 1944)

'Noesa Penida', was written by Dr. V.E. Korn (1944) and gives an overwiew of various aspects of Nusa Penida life: means of subistance, problems, temple system, administration and jusrisdiction, people, customs, ceremonies & Bali and Grédag. English translation and additional comments in square brackets by Godi Dijkman.

korn nusapenida 1944 cover03korn nusapenida 1944 cover02korn nusapenida 1944 cover01

Images above: cover of Magazine 'Cultureel Indië' in which below article was publised in 1944

korn noesapenida 1944 97-soewana

Image above: Soewana, embarking on the Noesa Penida motorboat

Noesa Penida: Means of subsistence

The Gods ware enraged, the soil was thirsty and on the sawahs rice paddies were withering away. Batara Baroena surely had sent an envoy of evil powers to Bali, whom, according to South Bali belief, [reigned] outside of the temple of Ped on the north coast of the island Penida. On Penida itself, the people had a different opinion on the inhabitants of the sanctuary at Ped. Within the walls of this temple, and even more so at Poera Sahab, the gods were beseeched for rain. On Penida, too, the situation was dire. Rumours of famine spread and it was told that a part of the population was moving to Lombok and that children were bartered to tradesmen in Koesamba. Local investigations seemed opportune, and so I crossed over by steamer in 1929 from Pasanggaran, Den Pasar Harbour, to Tojapakeh (i.e. salty water). Fortunately, during a brief survey, the famine appeared to be a serious food shortage. Nonetheless, assistance needed to be extended and so the Assistant-Resident at Mataram was called on to supply several tons of corn and Lombok rice, and the district head of Singaradja was asked for a 'kwart ton gouds'.

korn noesapenida 1944 97 mapImage right: map of Noesa Penida (Korn, 1944)

Some time later the crossing to Penida was once more undertaken, this time from Padangbaai on a Noesa Penida motorboat. We were sitting on top of a lading of rice and were in a state of continuous agitation, calculating whether at each next wave the highly packed load of rice was going to succumb to our part of the hulk below the ocean's surface. We were hoping that during a quiet trip on horseback we would be able to learn of the Penidian way of life. The Engineer from the Department of Transport (waterstaatsingenieur) was to observe a number of works of art, the provincial doctor was to inspect vaccines and in co-operation with a local doctor to combat framboesia. Kloengkoeng Controller J.C.C. Haar had properly prepared this journey, though due to physical conditions was not able to ride a horse. In view of our respective tasks, the following route was chosen: from the place of disembarkation Tojapakeh via Sakti, Batoemadeg, Kloempoe, Toelad, Batoekandik, Tanglad to Soewana, where we sailed to the N.P. motorboat in an outrigger that was rocking on the ocean's swell just outside the surf (image 1).

We shall recount observations of this remarkable island of Noesa Penida from what we saw and what existing sources 1) have to offer. The name, meaning chalk island, has been corrupted on old maps to Noesa Pendita (priest island), which henceforth was mangled even further to Bandit Island. The Balinese simply refer to it as Noesa.

[1. Dr C.C. Berg, Babad Bla-Batoeh, 1932; A.Gertis. Enkele aanteekeningen omtrent Noesa Penide, jaarverslag van den Top. Dienst over 1924 (1925); C.J. Grader. Dorpsbestuur en tempelbeheer op Noesa Penida, Djåwå, 17, 1937; I Ktoet Grèndèng. Dari hal hal di Noesa Penida, Bhawanagara, proefnummer, 1930; Dr.B.J.Haga. Adatrechtbundel XXIII, 1924; Claire Holt. Bandit Island, Djåwå, 16, 1936; C.Lekkerkerker in Kol. Tijds. 1923; Dr.W.F. Stutterheim. Bijdr. K.I., 92, 1936; Ida Bagoes Tantra, Pemandangan adat Noesa Penida, Bhawanagara, II, 1933.],

Noesa Penida, together with the adjacent islands of Lembongan and Tjeningan, lies on the same coral bar, on which the peninsula Tafelhoek (Boekit) and Balambangan (Java's southeast coast) are situated. These three regions show a remarkable resemblance in form and way of life of its inhabitants. Nevertheless, Boekit and Balambangan are only sparsely inhabited, whilst Noesa Penida is overcrowded. On approximately 205 km2 of barren chalk soil, there are 26468 people, excluding some twenty Chinese, all of them Balinese (source 1930). The main island has an average population density of 114,2, whilst Lembongan counts 474,6 per km2.

Penida rises from the sea in a terraced manner. It is covered with hilltops, of which the highest reaches an altitude of 529m above sea level. It is without trees, apart from some patches of forest directly surrounding temples and handsome coconut plantations, especially along the coast, and some lofty pinang palm trees sprawling the agricultural land.

korn noesapenida 1944 98 terracesImage left: Walled terraces on Penida (Korn, 1944)

Running water and reliable wells are nowhere to be found, hence both animal and humans depend on heavenly rainfall. Still, the population subsists entirely on agriculture and cattle husbandry. Farmers have terraced the entire hilly terrain, and each terrace is walled (images 2 and 3). To uncover limestone a practical crowbar is used. On the terraces, of which many are no larger than a square foot, loosened burnt limestone soil is mixed with manure and leaves. By repeating this procedure yearly, a cultivation layer is obtained, which on larger plots allows for working the soil with a wooden plough. Thus, Penida is covered in fresh green for several months of the year, if corn and 'mountain rice' [padi gaga?] do well. Despite this labour-intensive agriculture, crop yield is inadequate [2. Topographical Service (Top. Dienst) in 1924 measured 17,800 ha of agricultural land, of which 15,284 was subject to land interest payment in 1937. Of this, 12,037 ha were considered of "inferior" quality. Virtually all of this land consisted of corn, ketéla and mountain rice plots. Therefore, Gertis' claim, that the soil was very fertile (p.105), cannot be true.], and as a result a yearly 3,000 picol of rice has to be imported. In contrast, there is considerable export of copra, coconut oil, cattle, cow skins and pigs, as this arid land - curiously enough - has at its disposal a handsome livestock, as is the case in Tafelhoek. Livestock here consists of approximately 10,000 cattle, 12,000 pigs, goats owned by Mohammedans, and poultry.

The Balinese inhabitants of Noesa Penida are, in contrast to those of mainland Bali, experienced seafarers, who in outriggers not only defy the most fearsome currents in the Badung Strait, but also are not shy of trips to Banjoewangi and Lombok. Coastal inhabitants catch not only fish, but also hideous octopuses and giant turtles. These turtle are sold off to mainland Bali, where these animals should be part of every cremation ceremony. They are paid for in 'rijksdaalders' according to the number of these coins that fit across the largest section of a turtle's shell.

korn noesapenida 1944 99 terraces cornImage right: Terraces with young corn plants (Korn, 1944)

Furthermore, from the sea indispensable salt is taken, which on Lembongan is harvested in small salt factories at Batoenoenggoel on Penida, by a process of evaporation on 'salt sawahs' (zoutsawahs). Snow-white salt, of good quality, serves both the copper duit (kèpèng) and the population as a means of exchange. Silver and paper money are less in demand.


Noesa Penida is a shining example of an area that - in splendid isolation - attempted to concur existing means of subsistance with its own means. We already saw by what formidable exertions the population managed to turn the chalky soil into agricultural land. But also in the field of housing, clothing and drinking water facilities it managed to survive. Timber is only readily available for the construction of temples. For the construction of houses, one makes do with limestone, cut up into blocks or cylinders, of which the walls are constructed with mud mortar. On top of this, a roof of bamboo is placed, covered with alang-alang. Limestone used for temple construction is patiently ground and smoothened and the buildings made from this material are often architectural gems. There is not one inhabitant of Dèn Pasar who is not familiar with the graceful limestone tower temple of Poera Sakènan at Serangan, where each year the Badung people celebrate the end of koeningan (image 4). On Penida, too, there are handsome altars and gates made of limestone. These constructions are special because of the fixed lines and austere ornaments of the Kloengkoeng constructions, of which some can be found on the island (image 5 shows a real Penida gate).

The houses of an unsightly impression stand in fixed rows within the walled courtyards. Left of the 'ancestral entrance' (lawangan) is the rice barn (djineng), which is maintained as a storage place for valuables and reception room for guests. Next is the pabé or kitchen - called paon in Bali - and behind this in the left 'ancestral' corner (linker erfhoek) where the 'sleeping house' (metèn) is found. The rear right corner of the yard contains the sanggah kemoelan or palibon, i.e. the ancestral temple. On the left front part of the yard there mostly is an open balé, where young girls weave at looms, and this is done also in the space underneath the rice barn.

Although some weft cloths are imported to Penida, the bulk of clothing is produced locally. The ubiquitous kapas trees are harvested for kapas: the seeds of the old berries are removed, and then kapas is purified, spun and dyed. For dyeing, originally only natural plant dyes were used: kemiri to obtain black, taoem to obtain blue, kepoendoeng and tibah to obtain red and koenjir to obtain yellow. Nowadays, alas, alinine [alanine?] dye is used. Weaving is similar to Tnganan Pagringsingan [3. V.E. Korn - 'De dorpsrepubliek Tnganan Pagringsingan', 1933, p.12] and is the sacred occupation of virgins. The long and predominantly reddish-brown ikats with 'sindjang jepoh' are renowned, and they serve as adat clothing at temple festivities (width 92cm, length 265cm). Only certain geometrical motives are used in the patterns, especially lasagnes (rhombus) and triangles.

korn noesapenida 1944 100 sakenanImage left: Poera Sakenan, Serangan (Van Erp, 1944?)

The main problem on Penida is how animals and people are to get enough drinking water, not to mention bating water. In the interior, rainwater swiftly sinks into the porous soil. Along the beach, there are some freshwater wells, except for the salty ones at Tojapakeh, which are inundated at high tide. Nonetheless, cattle herders during the dry season take the trouble of leading their flocks toward the coast twice a week for drenching. During the rainy season, water is gathered in large amounts for the animals in goembleng, obtained by damming lower-laying terrain. For human usage, water cellars in the form of bottles are hacked into the chalk soil called djoembang, which are plastered and from which rainwater is transported along bamboo sticks, afterwards collected on special lean-tos.

Furthermore, so-called sekaha toja (water associations) were established, guilds of water carriers, who periodically undertake the ponderous journey to the steep cliffs on the south coast. They make their way down along (makeshift) rattan railings in order to fill up gourds and bamboo (containers) with drinking water. These gourds are treated with great respect and should not be sold off. This laborious water supply arrangement is rather time-consuming and it is closer to the truth to say that all this ingenuity has not lead to any decisive solution to the problem at hand. Hence, the government has intervened by constructing two great water reservoirs at Toelad and Tanglad (images 6 and 7). It is self-evident that the population was all too willing to extend its labour with pleasure. Later on, the question arose if in view of evaporation, it would not have been better - in accordance with the inhabitants' existing culture - to construct large water cellars, and if I am not mistaken, this system has been implemented on Tafelhoek [Bukit].

Temple system

Those who want to get a better understanding of the bond that ties together a population, which exists rather independently in more than 100 hamlets, first of all needs to pay attention to the religious context. To the extent in which true worldly authority exists, it concerns merely a sequel of the religious.

korn noesapenida 1944 101 gate tangladImage right: Gate at Tanglad (Korn, 1944)

The central sanctuary is Poera Sahab, amidst handsome trees, located on a small mountain within the boundaries of Batoemadeg. This is where the Penida's central sacrificial 'shed' is situated, the balé agoeng for all of Penida's inhabitants. Within this sanctuary lie the temples of the four désas, each with a balé agoeng: Soewana in the east, Tanglad in the south, Penida in the west, and Pèd in the north [4. I Ktoet Grèndèng mentions a sixth balé agoeng at poera Moendi (p.16), but perhaps this should be considered a misunderstanding, as may become clear from the description of this sanctuary by Grader.]. Although it is true that the désas Lembongan and Djoengoetbatoe on the island of Lembongan also have a balé agoeng, the main island, however, is considered a separate entity.

In former times, each of the four Penida désas consisted of three bendésa jurisdictions, also referred to as désa. These twelve bendésas were subdivided into an eastern and a western half of the island. The penataran Batoe Medaoe (near Soewana) was the central sanctuary of the eastern half (Dangin Bantas) and penataran Pèd of the western half (Daoeh bantas). The bendésas by turns had to take care of the monthly offerings in the temple of their respective island half.

Bendésa jurisdictions consist of bandjars: groups, which were formed either genealogically of through voluntary gathering, who established their centre point either in an 'iboe kamoelan' or 'palibon' (temples of house origin), or in the 'iboe or pamaksan bandjar (temple of establishment), which stood next to the bandjar yard, where the 'balé bandjar or balé gedé' (congregations house) and a number of 'oema sangijang' (praying chapels) were found.

This entire organisation is strongly reminiscent of the archaic system on mainland Bali, which I described elsewhere [5. V.E. Korn. Het adatrecht van Bali 2, 1932, p.189]. At Taro, too, originally existed one large balé agoeng for the entire Balinese population: a 'stamhuis' which henceforth spread over Bali in four parts. This island, too, knows a subdivision in a western and eastern half with their respective temples: Besakih on G. Agoeng and poera Dasar on Batoe Kaoe [Karu] and there, too, this strict subdivision exists with regards to the care for offering ceremonies and maintenance [6. Goris in Djåwå, 17, 1937, blz.266-7]. This old [Dutch] Indies system was entirely dedicated to ancestor worship, which afterwards, as was the case in Bali, was strongly Hindunised under the influence of the rajahdoms. In this respect, it probably does not concern the Gèlgèl Dalem as in the olden days Penida had a rajahdom of its own, which subsisted for a long time during Madjapait's hegemony. In the Nagarakrtagama, one of the subordinate members of this state is Penida, referred to as Goeroen. The capital's name is Soekoen, a name that nowadays is still used by one of the bandjars of désa Batoemadeg, where we already found the island sanctuary of poera Sahab [7. Van Eerde in Tijdschrift Aard. Gen., 1911, p.230.].

The last rajah of Penida, I Dewa Boengkoet, meaning 'hump-backed', was a bad ruler who oppressed his people. He disposed of supernatural powers and was immune to death caused by weapons made by smiths [Pasek Besi/Wesi]. A bendésa from Noesa beseeched the dalem di-Madé at Gèlgèl to rid the island of this tyrant, after which Noesa together with its entire population was to fall under Déwa Agoeng. Following the advice of fellow countrymen, the Dalem ordered I Goesti Ngoerah Djlantik Bogol (bogol = unarmed) to venture out to investigate. This nobleman from the house of Njoeh Aya thanked his name to the fact that his father during an expedition to Balambangan, shortly before Bogol's birth, was disarmed and killed on the battlefield. Dalem Gèlgèl prohibited Bogol to bring along the kris of his forefathers, thought to bring bad luck, and gave him the kris Tjatjaran Bangbang, a weapon that one of his own forefathers had received from Rajah Jayam Oeroek. When Bogol took leave from his wife, she declared she was ready to witness the battle herself and advised him to take with him the kris Pentjok Sahang, a gift from god Toh-Langkir (Goenoeng Agoeng). This weapon was the fang of Basoekih. Via Koesamba and Djoengoetbatoe, Noesa was reached, where Dalem Bogol was first of all welcomed before engaging in a duel. The ensuing battle was initially unfavourable for Bogol, as the beautiful keris from Jayam Oeroek broke. However, at the moment he drew the Pontjok Sahang, following his wife's advise, the hunchbacked Dalem realised his end was nigh, as his supernatural powers had to bow to Basoekih's fang. And, as a consequence, he died. Bogol then, in compliance with established regulations, before returning to Bali, [took care of] the cremations ceremony of his vanquished opponent [8. Berg, p.9].

korn noesapenida 1944 102 water tanglad1929 1

Image above: Rain water reservoir at Tanglad, almost finished in May 1929 (Haar)

The central temple of poera Sahab contains many ancient statues, of which one corrupt example possibly represents a portrait image of the last Penida king. The sanctuary consists of three courtyards (pasamoean). In the southern part, a statue of Bagawan Wrespati is found beneath a female statue, possibly representing his wife, whose name is not known. Furthermore, there are Brahma and his wife Sareswati and naga Ananta Boga. In the northern courtyard, Wisjnoe, Sri, Indra and Batari Satji have their seats. Also, naga Basoekih is found here and the handsome tjatoermoeka (Brahma). The important centre courtyard contains a statue of Ganésa as water god, given offerings during periods of draught. Lastly, there is an elephant and on its back is a deity, and a statue group of ten heavenly nymphs.

Both penatarans at Pèd and Batoe Medaoe are poera taman, i.e. temples with a pond, in the middle of which is an island with a praying chapel. In both temples there are a number of primitive ancestor statues. Even more primitive are the natural stones of a specific form which are revered, as is the case locally on Bali [9. Tnganan Pagringsingan, p.9].

The village temples are found one rung lower with respect to the sanctuaries of both island halves. In Bali, each désa disposed of one [kemulan] temple (poeseh), a poera balé agoeng and a temple for the deceased (poera dalem), the three together called kayangan tiga. We have mentioned above that in Noesa of the twelve bendésa jurisdictions, only one has a balé agoeng, which are in fact désas. However, the ['kemulan'] temples and temples for the deceased are not all represented in all jurisdictions. The poesehs function is sometimes replaced by an important 'kemulan' temple or by the pemaksan bandjar. The fact that temples dedicated to the deceased are not necessary in all places is due to the special way people are buried. More on this shortly. We have already mentioned the bandjar sanctuaries above. On the lowest rung of temple hierarchy is sanggah kemoelan, an altar consisting of three layers dedicated to the Hindu trinity. Other special sanctuaries are mountain temples (poera boekit), sea temples (poera sagara), the latter especially designed for tradesmen and fishermen [10. Stutterheim in Bijdr. K.I., 92, 1934, p.206].

korn noesapenida 1944 103 water tanglad 1Image right: Rain water reservoirs at Toelad, filled May 1929 (Haar)

It would go too far to describe the entire care-taking system of the odalans and offerings, which take place every six Balinese months or 210 days in oema sangijang and village temples, and for the poedjawali, i.e. larger offerings in the penatarans. With regards to désa Kloempoe, Grader has discussed this issue extensively in an edition dedicated especially to Bali of Djåwå 1937. It is self-evident, that this entire beautiful temple service, consisting of an intimate interweaving of Hindu gods and animistic ancestor worship, which for every Penidanese adds to the meaning of this earthly existence, creates a tight bond between all parts of this population.

Administration and jurisdiction

Noesa Penida society is more equal compared to its Balinese counterpart. Although the Penidanese, except for some primitive Balinese (Bali Aga) at Koetapang (désa Batoenoenggoel) and some 200 Mohammedans at Tojapakeh, with their own village head (prebekel), are Hindu Balinese of the agama maborbor (cremation religion), no cast system is found on this island. Though at Batoemoenggoel there are some ksatrijas, amongst whom the village head. This group consists of immigrants and exiled people from Kloengkoeng. Priests (pedanda's) are therefore not to be found on Penida and for the execution of corpse cremations etc. a pedanda from Bali is imported. Kliang pura, pemangkoes (temple administrators) and balians perform most religious rites and all of them are men.

Penida knows various family lines of the old Balinese nobility: bendésas, paseks etc. and also those who practise 'despised' trades such as 'wong pamesan' (blauwververs) [a profession seemingly only practised by the Bali Aga on Lembongan, see: Mohammedans acknowledge two casts: bangsa bapa and bangsa nanang; both terms mean 'father'. Each man who marries has to become a member of the bandjar and désa association and 'occupy' a courtyard [i.e. establish a household?]. When someone is introduced into a désa, he is expected to buy the 'erf' [ancestral courtyard?] after a trial period of three to six months in monthly payments of 200 'duiten', which are then put into the désa cashbox (pipis désa). Before this time, when he is not yet a member, and he is called a moenggoe.

korn noesapenida 1944 104 gandrung 1Image left: Gandroeng (Haar)

Bandjar membership obliges one to attend monthly meetings, chaired by the klijang bandjar or loepoet (i.e. 'exempted') held in the balé gedé. One duit wang ketèkan or 'telgeld' is paid at arrival and if one appears too late at the meeting a fine is paid of 12 duiten. Bandjar money is administered by the panjarikan (scribe). Furthermore, like in Bali, bandjar tasks consist of various types of assistance such as during tooth filing, 'corpse taking' (lijkbezorging), patoes, services connected to the following communal ancestor worship and for the warding off of unclean powers (matjaroe).

As désa member, one is expected to attend monthly meetings in the five 'actual' désas chaired by the bendésa, and elsewhere during temple gatherings, which are held every time temple maintenance and village festivities require such meetings. All services can only be bought off (afkoopbaar) by Mohammedans and Chinese. Rights connected to membership consist of a claim to assistance from the bandjar members during festivities and the possibility lo borrow money at 5% [rent] per Balinese month from the désa and bandjar cashbox.

The Déwa Agoeng of Kloengkoeng preserved the bendésa's, but also burdened them with the works on behalf of existing royal levies and services. To this aim, he made them subordinate to the 'landsgrooten' in the capital. Amongst the bendésas, he appointed klijang satoes (headmen of 'hundreds') and klijang séket (headmen of 'fifties'). Nonetheless, the bendésa continued to take care of the offerings in the land temple Poera Sahab and the 'windstreektempel' of his désa, and he himself or one of his klijang satoes attended the meeting, which was held every month in either of the large temples of Pèd or Batoe Madaoe.

Dutch colonial administration intervened at a somewhat deeper level and reduced the number of bendésas to ten and altered their title to 'prebekel'; in Bali these are the heads of the corvée labourers (dienstplichtigen). Instead of the Kloengkoeng poeri lords, our government put two district heads above the prebekels, one for West and one for East Penida, to be replaced later one by a single poenggawa at Sampalan. The klijang satoes and seket were later replaced by klijang pangliman, who each were assigned a number of bandjars. However, under Dutch Colonial administration, the prebekels continued to fulfil their religious duties and at present they are purposefully divided into a western and an eastern group.

The prebekel, in performing his duties, is assisted in his adat responsibilities by elders, klijang désa or 'ketoea di désa', of whom there are in total 48 on Penida, whilst at the same time they carry out their religious tasks independently by the temple and bandjar administration. Income from adat heads, from selected families, is reduced to supplementary contributions from offering ceremonies, fines and corvée labour exemptions. The prebekels, in their capacity of governmental servants, and the lower heads, enjoy government field yields, consisting of coconut plantations and tegals on Penida and sawahs in the Sawan district. These sawahs were given out as war booty from the riches of the last independent Déwa Agoeng of Kloengkoeng.

korn noesapenida 1944 105 gredag 1Image left: Grédag procession (Korn, 1944)

As in Bali, in Penida exists a simple village type of administrative justice under the guidance of bandjar and village administrators. Apart from these, there is a special court of justice for all matters concerning cattle ownership. This court of justice consists of communal administrators of cattle owners or goeloengan association. From each of the ten désas emerges one administrator, klijang dasa or klijang sampi, and in case of absence, the remaining nine klijangs appoint a tenth man. The way this interesting and 'police' (politioneele) body, also called judicial college, works, has been described before [11. Haga, p.400; Grader. p.374]. Therefore, I would like to point out one peculiar detail. The original organisation coincided with the fourfold type of organisation, which already existed on Penida, as it originally was chaired by the klijang montjol. This proves to what extent a relatively young division impacts the forming of new institutions, as this sekaha goeloengan has hardly been in place for three quarters of a century. Justice is done by written regulations, which indicate how matters of theft such as sending into grasslands, catching/taking care of, selling and pawning of cattle should be adjudged. This matter has been included in recently published 'Adatrechtbundel 42'. Written jurisdiction, for that matter, hardly occurs on Penida, as former sekaha toja, water carriers association, have no regulations. Only désa Djoengoetbatoe has a village constitution, granted by the Déwa Agoeng of Kloengkoeng.

People, customs and ceremonies

Penidanese are a well-built kind of people, amongst whom there are many left-handed. Gertis noticed men of some 1,88m height. The population is friendly and hospitable. Most of the time, the balé bandjar is the place where guests are lodged. Every Penidanese is obliged, during his travels, to take along his lontar-plaited sirih bag and to offer this gandèk as a sign of friendship to an acquaintance, whenever he meets one. The people serve each other from each other's sirih bags. During the time of my travels there was some doubt as to the friendly disposition of the population. A number of murders had surfaced, which had been committed not just by one single individual, but by entire villages. Of these crimes, many dated back to some 12 to 14 ago and all were related to so-called witchcraft. On Bali, too, and not just amongst the ordinary people, fear of so-called léjaks is still deeply-rooted. When I asked one of the foremost district heads whether he believed in witchcraft, he whole-heartedly replied in the affirmative. However, when the administration would take away all lontar writings on black magic and burn them, witchcraft would soon end.

The language of Penida is a little different from ordinary Balinese, as may be inferred from published glossaries [12. I Ktoet Grèndèng, p.17 etc.; Ida Bagus Tantra. p.176]. Present lontar writings are full of legends regarding the origins of various places in and around the island. Music is practiced everywhere and during my travels the village population welcomed us with gamelan play. As is the case on Bali, many music and theatre organisations perform during temple festivities. Various temples have their own balé gong. Claire Holt, during her travels to Tanglad, watched the Baris Djangkang of Pelilit perform bird dances. Nonetheless, enclosed handsome photographs depict dancers with lances, whereas the djangkang are usually adorned with bow and arrow. At Batoemadeg, Holt was welcomed by a prèrèt concert and at Tanglad where she witnessed gandroengs dancing for her. As is known, these Balinese dancing boys enjoyed the same vile reputation as the Atjèh sedatis. While on Bali this indecent form of entertainment has vanished, in Penida this is by no means the case.

korn noesapenida 1944 106 segehagung 1Image right: Segeh-agoeng (Korn, 1944)

A special kind of gandroeng is to be seen in image 8: six fellows who have painted themselves with chalk and mud. They seem to represent spirits, who, by means of their dances, are chased away. Amongst popular customary traditions worth mentioning, there is banishment of parents of 'manak salah' (wrong twins), a boy and a girl (kembar boentjing). Together with their children, the parents are expected to stay in the temple of the dead one Balinese month plus one week (in total 42 days), or alternatively, where this is not feasible, on a crossroads. Under the guidance of a balian, purification of the married couple and children takes place, followed by a 'desinning' ceremony of the village. The youngest daughters, who are in the habit of adorning all fingers, except for the thumb, with rings, are well looked after. The dowry usually consists of 30 pekoe, and not occasionally is lowered to 10, but is raised to 200 pekoe (a pekoe is ± two guilders). Economic marriage is a well-known phenomenon, but the woman often regarded is as a disgrace, often leading to divorce.

The deceased is often placed on a bier, in which state it should remain for no longer than a year. During this period, at regular intervals, there should be enough drink and food available for the soul. This also occurs in case the body of a deceased, temporarily buried before its cremation, is once more placed in a bier at home. Locally, the prohibition is in place of exhuming a deceased, which has already been buried on burial ground [setra?]. This is the reason the burial takes place on a proper tegal, or proper courtyard out of love for the deceased. Hence, there are villages where burial grounds and a temple for the dead is absent. According to Grader, this type of burial serves only one goal, i.e. to be able to identify the bones.

All contributions for the cremation delivered by family and acquaintances, are placed around the body, and the deceased is summoned by prayers to obtain special rights for the giver in the hereafter. Affluent members invite a priest from Bali to take care of the mawéda on the holy water, though most people entrust the cremation to take place entirely under the guidance of a balian and use holy water from a local temple. At Penangkidan (Sakti), the task of inscribing mystical signs on the white covering cloth (kadjang) used on the bier is entrusted to the ketoea di désa. The dead, for whom all death rites have been taken care of, according to Grader, are dissolved into the trinity and are worshipped in the kemoelan, the little ancestor temple with three divisions for Brahma, Wisjnoe and Iswara. The souls who have not yet received the ritual cleansing, are revered by Penidians in the courtyard or the kitchen. A curiosity worth mentioning is that the hearth-fire is lit with a bamboo fire saw (vuurzaag).

According to I Ktoet Grèndèng, the pamesan (blauwververs) of Lembongan, have completely different death rituals. During the washing of the deceased, the head is laid on a lampit, i.e. a 'sledge' with which lumps of earth on a ploughed field are crumpled. The high pagoenoengan should not be used as a bier, and a more simple balé baléan is used instead, which should be constructed of bamboo with a lean-to of young arèn leaves. The covering cloth can only be a babalian, a loosely woven Balinese cloth, exclusively adorned with daloengdoeng flowers.

The calendar of yearly festivities according to the months and oekoes is the same as the Balinese. Given the fact that ancestor worship comprises the core of the entire worship ceremony rituals, galoengan- and koeningan are emphasised. In the small ancestral temple, worshipping place of the family elder who first occupied the courtyard, only galoengan and koeningan offerings are brought to the deceased, except for small offerings during full and new moon and on especially fortuitous and unlucky days. In the banjar's oema sangijang, too, the odalan is often celebrated at galoengan.

korn noesapenida 1944 107 evilforces1 Image left: Rage against evil powers (Korn, 1944)

Both Gertis and Claire Holt recount that at Soewana, galoengan is celebrated in the cave with the nymph baths [Goa Giri Putri?], where underneath the stalactites at torchlight sacred dances are performed. At Batoekandik, Tanglad and Sekartadji, galoengan is not celebrated in the oekoe doengoelan, but in the oekoe Pahang.

Bali and Penida: Grédag

To the Balinese, Noesa is the land of horrors, much like a netherworld and Penida, through the ages, has become the place of banishment of Bali, more specifically of Kloengkoeng. This is the place where adat transgressors were sent to, by whose misconduct Balinese ground was tarnished. If the wrongdoers were practitioners of black magic of werewolves, they were "if necessary" burnt at Pèd. Gertis recounts that those sentenced to death were tied to trees on a rocky island in the bay of désa Penida. Should one of them manage to free themselves, the village head should forthwith stab them to death by a keris.

Curiously enough, Penida is also the place of banishment for animals. Cockatoos with yellow crests, absent on Bali, live in large flocks on Noesa, where they were exiled when they had misbehaved on Bali. Balinese called them gowak Noesa (Noesa Penida crows).

In poera Poeser ing djagat (navel of the earth) at Pèdjèng (Gianjar), the mouth of a subterranean tunnel is found, which would run from Bali to Noesa. Curiously, Goris and Stutterheim have not been able to discover this tunnel [13. Goris in Med. Kirtya Liefrinck-v.d. Tuuk, 1930, p.27 and further; Stutterheim in Oudheden van Bali, 1929, p.175]. However, during a visit in December 1925, I was shown the entrance at gedong Noesa. This underground tunnel would end at penataran Pèd [14. Anders v.d. Tuuk, Kawi-Bal. Wdb. s.v. Pèdjèng; and Stutterheim, Oudheden blz.175, who mention Pèdjèng, the name of which I haven't been able to trace on Penida], where the netherworldly spirits (bregala) would roam. Their leader is Djro Gedé Matjaling, i.e. the large fanged Lord, who spreads cholera and other diseases. These bregala send plagues and disasters over sea to Bali.

korn noesapenida 1944 108 trance 1Image left: Old men and women dancing in trance (Korn, 1944)

By planting hedges and placing offerings designed to ward off magic, and supplications to the Sun God and Baroena, coastal inhabitants of Gianjar and Kloengkoeng try to ward off evil powers and send them back (nangloek merana). During the hours of prayer at Lebih, the Hindu priest officiates, whilst the Gianjar administrator and his civil servants and water carriers' association members, in the presence of the entire population of his district, piously raise their hands above their head in reverence towards the skies above. This solemnity is shortly described by controller Van der Kaaden [15. Djåwå, 16, 1936, p.123-].

I would like to contribute something on grédag, which takes place during the same time in nearby Kramas; 'grédag', is a word, which according to v.d. Tuuk, means 'noise'. Each year, in the months of November and December (5th and 6th month of the Balinese year) Gianjar is exposed to sickness and plagues, caused by climatological circumstances. Across the sea, fireballs and lights are seen to be dancing in from the direction of Noesa at night. The people hide from the evil spirits from Pèd, i.e. above-mentioned bregala, by ducking under water and hiding in ditches. Soon enough, the population starts to block all entrances to the désa by means of hedges (gebijok). By making the sound of clattering in the air, the spirits are warned grédag is about to start: magical warding off, which once every three years lasts for no less than 42 days. In 1939, a big year (oetama), I experienced a day of grédag. The prime moment of this solemnity is the fantastic procession, in which a dapdag branch in the form of a two-pronged fork is carried around, which is consecrated in the poera Pasoepati, underneath a 'statiescherm'. This branch is considered a healing medicine from Bagawan Pasoepati.

The procession consists of a great number of men, besmirched with chalk and black stripes, of whom many have girded themselves with coconut leaves, whilst carrying all kinds of clownish headgear adorned with feathers and leaves. Many of them carry wooden swords, pickaxes and rifles, whilst others make noise on drums, pieces of wood in the form of nagas, and bamboos and tins, rhythmically make deafening noise. Women also partake in the procession, with large hats made of plaited leaves carried on their heads. They also participate in performing music. In the front, an old man is seen dancing (image 9).

On crossroads, women have placed a sea of offerings (segeh agoeng) for the sprits, dedicated by lay priests (image 10). Once the procession arrives there, the spectacle truly finds its climax. While the women kneel amidst clouds of smoke before the altars, devilish figures from the procession rush against invisible enemies in deafening noise and hoarse screams (image 11). The spirits start to move, men and old women enter into trance and perform dances (image 12). The sacrificial women offer their gifts to satisfy aerial powers. In reality, the people of the procession disguised as evil spirits, devour the offerings. The pemangkoes sound the praying bells and sprinkle holy water. Then, one by one, the evil spirits return to their abode on Noesa.


  • Korn, V.E. – Noesa Penida, in: Cultureel Indie, onder redactie van De Afdeling Volkenkunde van het Koloniaal Instituut Amsterdam, zesde jaargang, Leiden, E.J.Brill, 1944

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. research: Godi Dijkman http://guidomansdijk-talen.nlsocial facebook box white 24