A boy comes of age gradually and unconsciously, but the first menstruation of a girl (nyatial) is an important event and when this condition arrives to the daughter of a prince, the village kulkul is beaten to announce that the little princess is now a woman of marriageable age. As soon as the fact is discovered, the girl is secluded in the sleeping-quarters, and the veranda is en closed with screens of woven palm-leaf, leaving a small entrance. Men are strictly forbidden to go into the place. The girl becomes automatically sebel, unclean, and remains in seclusion until the menstrual period is over and until the auspicious day when she Will be purified by the, priest. Then -a great feast is given by her family to celebrate her reappearance into the world as a mature woman.
We assisted at the purification feast of Made Rai, one of the legong dancers of Belaluan, who had just come of age. When we arrived at her house, Made Rai was being dressed inside the house, surrounded by busy women who came and went with clothes, jewels, and flowers. The platform of honour of the bale gede, the reception hall, was filled with great offerings of palm leaf, fruit, and flowers, and the high priest, the pedanda, waited to perform the purification, sitting cross-legged on the high bale with an air of a loof importance, his intriguing paraphernalia ready in front of him. Made Rai made her triumphal appearance among exploding firecrackers, carried on the shoulders of Regog, the strong man of the bandjar, and dressed in the ceremonial costume of her class: a skirt of prada, silk with applications of gold leaf, a scarf of brocade around her budding breasts, subangs of gold in her ears and a crown of gold flowers. She was deposited on a mat before the priest, who proceeded with his maweda, magic prayers recited with an accompaniment of mystic gestures with the hands. The priest sprinkled her with holy water and occasionally flung flowers towards the girl. Certain offerings, " moons " of palm-leaf and long brooms, sexual symbols, were held in front of her while she fanned their essence towards herself with graceful gestures of her dance-trained hands. The holy water that the priest had consecrated was poured on her hands through a rice-steaming basket (kukusan) ; she drank the water with reverence, wiping her wet palms on her forehead This ended the ceremony and Made Rai could then go to pray at the temple of origin of her family (pura dadia) . She was taken in procession, carried on a palanquin preceded by flags and spears. On arriving at the temple she knelt on a cushion in front, of the principal shrine and she prayed with the other members., of her family, while the old men sang kekawin poems that & scribed the beauty of the dedari, the nymphs of heaven. The, procession returned home and the guests were entertained plays and dances to celebrate the fact that Made Rai, the litt girl that a few days before roamed unconcerned all over the bandjar, had become a beautiful woman of fourteen.
The custom of filing the teeth has a deep significance among primitive peoples, usually as-a form of initiation ceremonies at puberty. Others tattoo or scar their bodies, and even Westerners, who are horrified at the absurd customs of savages, practise initiation tortures in the form of sabre duels, beatings, featherings, or simply breaking their noses at college football games.
The Balinese file their teeth when a boy or a girl comes of age; not in sharp points like some Africans, or down to the gums like the Sumatrans and other Indonesians; but they simply file off a small portion of the upper incisors and upper canines to produce an even line of short teeth, also wearing them down to smooth their outer surface. Undoubtedly the custom of filing the teeth (mesangih mepandes) had its origin in initiation rites. As. We have seen, the teeth are not only filed to make them beautiful, but also blackened, and it is possible that, like the custom of cutting the rice stalks at harvesting-time with a small blade. carefully hidden in the palm of the hand, the filing and blackening of the teeth may in some way be connected with the fear of offending, or hurting, the rice soul. Today, as I have said, young people are giving up chewing betel-nut, and the custom of blackening the teeth is disappearing. It is mostly elderly people who display black caverns for mouths, oozing with blood-red betel juice.
The filing should be performed preferably at puberty, but the ceremony is expensive because of fees, guests, banquet, offerings and so forth, and usually only the well-to-do can afford it then, Although it is not longer regarded as essential, many people have their teeth filed later in life if they were not filed during youth. It is believed that a person may be denied entrance into the spirit world if his teeth are not filed, and often the teeth of a corpse are filed before cremation so that be will not look like a demon, a raksasa, the long canines of whom stick out through the cheeks like a wild boar's.
The filing takes place on an auspicious day after the person is blessed by a pedanda. The boy or girl may not go out of the house the day before and Van Eck tells of a Brahmanic rule that demands that the person remain in the dark for three days. The operation is performed by a specialist, generally a Brahmana, who knows formulas by which his tools - files and whetstones are blessed " to take the poison out, of them," to make the operation painless. The patient is laid on a bale among offerings, the head resting on a pillow which is covered with a protective scarf, gringsing wayang wangsul, one of the magic cloths woven in Tenganan, the warp of: which is left uncut. The body is wrapped in new white cloth and assistants bold down the victim by the bands and feet. The tooth filer stands at the bead of the ba16 and inscribes magic syllables (aksara) on the teeth about to be filed with a ruby set in a gold ring. The filing then proceeds, taking from fifteen minutes to a half-hour, endured stoically with clenched hands and goose-flesh, but without even a noise from the patient, who is given a rest from time to time, so that with the help of a mirror he can see the results. Often he makes suggestions and even complains when the teeth are not yet short enough.
During these pauses the patient spits the filings into a small yellow " coconut adorned with a palm-leaf fan and flowers. When the filing is over, the boy or girl, paler than usual, but apparently not suffering pain, takes the coconut with the filings over to the family temple, where it is buried just behind the ancestral shrine. We questioned a girl who had just come out of the trying experience about her sensations and she assured us that she felt " shivers," but no pain; she seemed happier and smiled more freely than before.
Among the puritanical Bali Agas of the mountains, adolescent boys (truna) and girls (daha) are considered pure people not yet contaminated by sexual intercourse. In those ancient villages the inhabitants are divided into four separate clubs: of men, of womenj and, of " virgin "boys (seka truna) and girls (seka daha) whose purity is jealously preserved, since they have special rites to perform in the systematic village magic: the care of divine heirlooms too dangerous for less pure people to handle. Consequently, in the strict communities of the Bali Aga, sexual licence on the part of a boy or girl is a crime against the village magic and is proportionately punished.
This is not the case, however, among the ordinary Balinese villages, where boys and girls lead a freer sexual life. There matters of sex are not solemn, mysterious prohibitions, and it is natural that in coming of age they should continue to have sexual relations that started in the character 'of play, incompletely of course, during childhood.
The average Balinese does not attach great importance to virginity and it is not difficult for a divorcee' a widow, or even a woman who has committed adultery to marry again. Low caste girls have many occasions to meet boys and often carry on affairs, kept secret-because of natural shyness. The Balinese are extremely discreet in their intimate relations; lovers are never seen together in public, and it would be unpardonable manners for a man to make insinuations to a girl in public. It is not unusual for girls to take the lead and " make eyes " (saling sulang) at boys, or give encouragement to a shy suitor with some sort of small present.
Girls of high caste are usually chaperoned and their chances of meet in a boys are considerably fewer. For the princes, whose mentality is more " Oriental " than that of the less prejudiced average Balinese, a virgin (gentan, in the absolute sense of the word) is highly desirable. Where feudalism, still holds sway, a prince may order a subject of his to reserve his pretty daughter for him when she comes of age, and there are cases of Satrias and Brabmanas who kidnapped a girl of their own, caste immediately after the first menstruation. Such cases are shocking to most Balinese, however, and there are rules and penalties against premature marriages. In general, the average marriageable age is eighteen for boys and sixteen for girls. A noble Balinese friend once told me that he could tell a virgin at first sight from the texture of her skin, fie shape of her breasts, the muscles under her arms, and even the shape of the mouth; but he added sadly that now that so maay girls wear blouses it has become more difflicult to tell!
meet at the market, at harvesting-time, when everybody helps to cat the
rice, at the river, and so forth, but especially at the frequent village
celebrations and nocturnal theatrical performances, when the boys meet
their friends and make new conquests. An attraction at all festivals is
the pretty dagangs, girls who run small stands of food, drinks, cigarettes,
and sirih. They sit behind little tables illuminated by petrol
To the Balinese, the average features of Nordics are not to be .admired; sharp noses, prominent chins, white skin, blue eyes, blond hair, and so forth are distasteful to them. They compare blond hair to that of albinos, but red hair is still worse, since only. witches and some devils have red hair . Only dogs, monkeys, and evil characters have long, prominent teeth and hair over their bodies. For the Balinese taste, the skin should be smooth, clear, and devoid of superfluous hair, which they call bulu, " feathers" to differentiate it from the "proper" hair of the head, which is called rambut. The hair of women should be thick, black, and glossy; goddesses are represented with hair down to their knees. The complexion should not be too dark and a girl with a golden skin is considered beautiful even if other requirements are missing. The face should be round, the eyes bright and almond shaped, but not too large, while the mouth must not be too small, with full arched lips and short even teeth. The already mentioned outline of the forehead is important. It must be high and narrow, in a deep arch coming down to the temples. Moles and beauty spots are admired, and it is believed that a woman who possesses a small mole in the area of the lips is destined to marry a Radja who will have to remain faithful to her. Perfume, either in the form of aromatic oil or as fresh flowers, is necessary to enhance one's attractiveness, and whenever there is a crowd the pungent smell of tjempaka and sandat blossoms, mixed with it that of coconut oil, fills the air.
should be small but well proportioned, the hips and waist narrow, and
the breasts round and full; a woman should never be too fat nor too thin.
Women are less particular about their men and the rules are not so well
defined; vitality, strength, a well-proportioned body, and a smooth skin
devoid of hair are the physical requirements of a man in a woman's eyes.
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