The Island Of Bali, Indonesia



The side of the bamboo scaffold nearest the fire is protected by a wall of wet Pisang (banana) stems. Upon the bridge lies a plank smeared with oil, which is pushed out a little over the fire as soon as the time for the leap draws near. There is a door at the end of the bridge that is not removed until the last minute. The victim sits in the house on the bridge, accompanied by a female priest and by her relatives. . . .

Then she makes her toilet; her hair especially is combed, the mirror used, and her garments newly arranged; in short, she arrays herself exactly as she would for a feast. Her dress is white, her breasts are covered with a white Slendang (scarf); she wears no ornaments, and after the preparations to which she has been subjected, her hair at the last moment hangs loose. When the corpse of the prince was almost consumed, the three Belas got ready; they glanced one towards another to convince themselves that all was prepared; but this was not a glance of fear, but of impatience, and it seemed to express a wish that they might cap at the same moment.

When the door opened and the plank smeared with oil was pushed out, each took her place on the plank, made three Sembahs (reverences) by joining her hands above her head, and one of the bystanders placed a small dove upon her head. When the dove flies away the soul is considered to escape. They immediately leaped down. There was no cry in leaping, no cry from the fire; they must have suffocated at once.

One of the Europeans prescnt succeeded in pushing through the crowd to the fire and in seeing the body some seconds after the leap - it was dead and its movements were caused merely by the combustion of the materials cast upon the flames. On other occasions, how-ever, Europeans have heard cries uttered in leaping and in the first moments afterwards. . . .

" During the whole time from the burning of the prince till the leap of the victims, the air resounded with the clangour of numerous bands of music; small cannon were discharged and the soldiers had drawn up outside the fire and contributed to the noise by firing off their muskets. There was not one of the 50,00o Balincse present who did not show a merry face; no one was filled with repagance and disgust except a few Europeans whose only desire was to sec the end of such barbarities."

It was only the wives of princes that were thus sacrificed; the Brahmanas did not consider it necessary for the redemption of their wives, and the common people were not interested in a practice that was foreign to them. There were two sorts of widow-sacrifice: one reserved for noblewomen, the mesatia (" truth," " fidelity ") , in which the noble widows stabbed themselves as they jumped into the same fire with their dead husbands; the other, for the prince's low-caste wives and concubines, the mebela (" to die together with the master ") , the one described by Friederich, which consisted in jumping into another fire apart to be burned alive. A woman who died in mesatia became a Satiawati, " The True One," a deity.

From the time their decision was made, the widows were regarded as already dead and deified. They lived a life of constant pleasures, exempt from all duties and constantly attended by the other wives. Their feet were not supposed to touch the impure ground and, like goddesses, they were carried everywhere, lavishly dressed and half-entranced. A Brahmanic priestess was constantly at their side, encouraging them to their sacrifice with flowery descriptions of the beauties of life among the gods. Friederich tells that when the time came, they were so thoroughly hypnotized that " they jumped into the fire as if it were a bath."

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Seminyak Bali Private Villa