The Island Of Bali, Indonesia



The dead body was placed on its own funeral pile which was forthwith lighted. The assistants then regaled themselves with a feast while the musicians, without cessation, struck the ear with a tumultous melody, not unplcasing. . . .

" At the funeral of the King's two sons a short time before, 42 women of the one, and 34 of the other, were poignarded and burnt in the manner above described; but on such occasions the princesses of royal blood themselves leap at once into the flames . . . because they would look upon themselves as dishonoured by anyone's laying hands on their persons. For this purpose a kind of bridge is erected over a burning pile, which they mount, holding a paper close to their foreheads, and having their robe tucked under their arm.

As soon as they feel the heat, they precipitate themselves into the burning pile. . . . In case firmness should abandon them . . . a brother, or another near relative, is at hand to push them in, and render them, out of affection, that cruel office. . . .

" When a prince or princess of the royal family dies, their women or slaves run around the body, uttering cries . . . and all crazily solicit to die for their master or mistress. The King, on the following day, designates those of whom lie makes choice. From that moment to the last of their lives, they are daily conducted at an early hour, each in her vehicle, to the sound of musical instruments . . . to perform their devotions, having their feet wrapped in white linen, for it is no more permitted them to touch the bare earth, because they are considered as consecrated.

The young women, little skilled in these religious exercises, are instructed by the aged women who accompany them. . . . Those who have devoted themselves, are made to pass the night in continual dancing and rejoicing. . . . All pains are taken to give them whatever tends to the gratification of their senses, and from the quantity of wine which they take, few objects arc capable of terrifying their imaginations. . . . No woman or slave, however, is obliged to follow this barbarous custom. . . ."

The remainder of the narrative proceeds like any other of the great cremations that are held today. Another interesting account of widow-burning is given us by an eyewitness, the scholar Friederich, of the cremation of the Dewa Manggis, Radja of Gianyar, which took place in that town on December 22, 1847:

" The corpse was followed by the three wives who became Belas. A procession went before them, as before the body. . . . They were seated in the highest storeys of the Bades. . . . After the body of the prince had arrived at the place of cremation, the three Belas in their Badcs, each preceded by the bearer of the offerings destined for her, with armed men and bands of music, were conducted to the three fires. . . .

Their Bades were turned around three times and were carried around the whole place of cremation. The women were then carried down steps from the Bades and up the steps of the places erected for their cremation. These consisted of squares of masonry three feet high filled with combustibles which had been burning since morning and threw out a glowing lieat; the persons appointed to watch them fed the fire, and at the moment when the women leaped down, poured upon it a quantity of oil and arrak, so that it flared up to a height of eight feet and must have suffocated the victims at once.

Behind this furnace stood an erection of bamboo in the form of a bridge, of the same width as the square of masonry, about forty feet long and from sixteen to eighteen feet high; steps of bamboo led up to it in the rear. In the centre there is a small house, affording a last resting-place to the victim, in which she waits till the ceremonies for her husband are finished and his body has begun to burn.

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