BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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WITCHCRAFT

WITCHES, WITCH-DOCTORS, AND THE
MAGIC THEATRE

Everybody had gathered to learn the names of the village's leyaks, whispering advance guesses, and many were in fear of being named. The show dragged on through the night and we did not stay for the outcome. The next day people were reluctant to talk about it and someone remarked indignantly that it was wicked to make public accusations in this manner. We heard no more of the feud until three years later when we assisted at the cremation of the princess of Djerokuta, believed by everybody to have been killed by the superior magic of the low-caste Makatjung.

A Balinese prince well known for his eccentric intrigues once announced he was to give a demonstration of how a man became a leyak and invited the entire foreign population of Bali to witness the phenomena. He seemed particularly anxious to x tract even the casual tourists that came to the Bali Hotel.

On the appointed night not only the Government officials, tourist and illustrious Balinese had congregated in the darkness of the cemetery, but a great rowdy crowd of Balinese who had heard the rumour had gathered, equally curious, although less skeptical of the supernatural performance than the whites. They climbed trees, tearing branches and flashing lights into each other's faces, until the infuriated prince banned all flashlight.

The prince's motive came out clearly when before starting the demonstration, he asked the guests for a demonstration, he asked the guests for a contribution of one guilder and twenty cents to pay for the offerings that had to I-made, should the man succeed in becoming a leyak.

After an endless wait the crowd gasped when a greenish light became visible at one end of the graveyard. As it approached it looked more and more suspiciously like a piece of banana leaf with a light behind it. A Dutch official next to me, who had retained his flashlight, aimed it suddenly at the ghost, who disappeared behind the low mound of a convenient new grave. The undaunted prince contended indignantly that the leyak was frightened and would not appear again, so he did not collect the fee. Thus ended our only opportunity to make the acquaintance of a leyak.

The existence of these leyaks is to the Balinese an incontestable fact. They are held responsible for most of the evils that afflict Bali, including sickness and death. Like the vampire they suck the blood of sleeping people and are particularly for of the entrails of unborn children. Every Balinese has stories to tell of personal encounters with leyaks in various forms, and from my friends I often heard stories such as these:

" Walking on a lonely road at night, a man from Sayan was confronted with a monkey that seemed intent on blocking his path. He moved to the right of the road, but the monkey stood in front of him and leaped to the left when he tried to pass on the left side. In sheer desperation he grabbed the monkey's tail, but the animal disappeared, leaving the panic-stricken man with the tail in his hands. He dropped it and ran for his life; the following morning he went back to the place of his adventure to reassure himself that it was all a hallucination, but there he found a scorched loincloth exactly where he had dropped the monkey's tail."

" Another night, in similar circumstances, three men stole a chicken apparently lost on the road. They took it home, killed it, cleaned it, and stuffed it with leaves and spices, ready to cook the following day. Next morning they found an unknown dc,: man in place of the chicken, his stomach and intestines removed and the cavity filled with leaves and spices."

" A tiger once ran into the school of the mountain village of Baturiti. The alarm-drum was sounded and the tiger was killed. When the villagers proceeded to skin the animal, they found between the skin and the flesh of the tiger, a kompet, the palm-leaf bag with betel-nut, tobacco, and pennies that every Balinese carries."


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