There were two medicine-men, two balians among the friends that often visited us. One of these was a learned, serious, middle aged man who practiced medicine and was progressive enough to adopt some Western medicines like quinine tablets for malaria, to which, however, he added Balinese magic by reciting formulas over them. He liked to discuss the methods of foreigners and often came to us to ask for medicines. The other balian was the extreme reverse; be enjoyed the terrifying reputation of teacher and chief of bands of leyaks, and our friends bad warned us in whispers that many of the old women of our leyak-ridden neigh. boarhound were his pupils; nobody had the slightest doubt of his great magical powers. His appearance was as demoniac as his reputation: enormous fingernails on knotty long fingers, half extinguished little eyes burning still with a wicked gleam, and a great, bloody cave for a mouth-, entirely toothless and always crimson with betel juice. He dres8ed smartly in a blue silk saput, and his gestures showed a rather studied elegance. He was gay and solicitous, but be loved to appear mysterious at times.
friends belonged to the two arch-types of Balinese balians. One was
the inspired mystic who works through fits of temperament and trances
to fight the evil forces and who by his inherent sakti is able to dominate
the supernatural spirits. Shamanism is his medium; he can see "
far away " by going into a trance and looking into a mirror or
a container with water. Through his self-induced trances he comes in
contact with his assisting spirit, perhaps his father's, a former great
balian, whose reputation establishes the prestige enjoyed by the son;
thus possessed by his assisting spirit, be is able to go into the spirit
world and fight the wrongdoer. During the trances the balian growls
and mumbles monologues similar to those in plays, in which be relates
his adventures in Hades. Often he dances entranced, elegant versions
of duels with malignant spirits. I was told that such a balian can see
a guilt in the eyes of a boy or a girl who is still " pure"
that is, uncontaminated by intercourse. By going into a trance, balians
are also able to trace the past history of an old kris or some similar
A balian inherits his father's wisdom, his sakti, and the accessories of his ritual: magic stones and coins which are placed water that is given to the patient to drink, calendars and carts for horoscopes, but mainly old treatises on magic and medicine the possession of which alone already gives balians certain powers. Besides the aforementioned manuscripts on " right and " left " magic, they own special books on love magic (pengaseh), collections of models for pictorial amulets (tetumbalan) and books on medicine and medical recipes (wisada and tetulak) These are copied when the old ones have become too worm," the discarded palm-leaves are burned to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands; the burned remains are then eat the owner in order not to waste any of their magic power.
Balians do not divulge their secrets readily; they claim, they would lose their power to recover their human identity a trance and would go insane if they revealed their formulas or sold their books. They have successfully injected fear of dangerous practices among the common people, who shudder even at the sight of their magic books. The profession of b is surrounded with an air of mystery, and although there are many kindly and respectable balians it is believed that there are also wicked ones who use magic to do physical harm to aclient's enemy. For this purpose they are said to employ the universal system of sympathetic magic by which through the possession of something that belonged to or formed part of the victim - clothes, locks of hair, nail-cuttings, saliva, and even the soil taken from a footprint - they can gain control of the physical and mental condition of the person. Through sympathy between the victim and something of his -his image, a photograph or a doll containing any of the above ingredients - his soul is captured and tortured because be feels the harm done to his image. Consequently the Balinese carefully collect and bury all nail-cuttings, hair, tooth-filings, and so forth.
Just as the Balinese believe that foreigners are immune from the attacks of witches simply because they are of a race apart, so they believe that European medicines and the knowledge of white doctors, pills, liquids in bottles, and bitter or smelly powders, can be effective only to cure the people who invented them. Furthermore, the lack of showmanship of doctors, of dramatic hocus-pocus with which to paralyze the evil forces which they believe cause illness, leave them without faith in their curative ability. Many refuse absolutely to be cured by Europeans, others accept treatment out of politeness, and the few that go to the hospitals do so only after everything else has failed them. It is natural that medical treatment fails then to cure an advanced stage of illness.
In case of serious sickness a folded leaf of pandanus is hung on the gate as a sign of taboo. (sawen) to inform the village. Then only relatives may enter the house and may only approach the sick person after stamping their feet on the kitchen floor to shake off whatever evil influences may still cling to them. A balian is called, and if his magic succeeds in effecting a cure, the patient gives many offerings and has to undergo purifying ceremonies to lose the sebel.
The Balinese attach great significance to any sort of physical sickness and, having no great hardships to discuss, to complain of illness, no matter how slight, is a favorite subject of conversation. Colds, cough, stomach-ache, neuralgia, and other minor ailments make them miserable, although they can cure them effectively with domestic concoctions of herbs, roots, barks, flowers, and especially by massage, which they have developed into a real science. However, despite the appearance of being an unusually healthy race, the Balinese are victims of many serious afflictions for which they know no cure.
Worst among these are the widespread venereal diseases; syphilis and gonorrhea seem to prevail although in an inherited ' latent skate. Supposedly of ancient introduction, the diseases do not appear in malignant forms and the Balinese seem to have developed a certain immunity that makes them carriers despite a healthy appearance. It is common to see the whitish veil of gonorrhea in the eyes of elderly people and often a boy or a girl of our banjar broke out in sores of an unmistakable origin and had to be sent to the hospital for inoculations. But the reluctance of the Balinese to undertake foreign treatment, the forbidding cost of Silverman, and the natural promiscuity do not help the situation.
rainy seasons bring epidemics of tropical fevers, and malaria takes
many lives, especially of children. The Balinese attempt to cure the
fevers with concoctions of dadap leaves, onions, anise, salt, and coal
from the hearth, which, after straining, is given to the patient to
drink, and he is put to sleep. It is also effective to rub the sides
with a paste of mashed dadap leaves, onions, anise, and tinke, a sort
of nutmeg, and to rub the back with coconut oil with scrapings of dadap
bark; but quinine is rapidly gaining popularity. The Balinese love a
clear skin and they are disturbed by the prevalent skin diseases, from
the ugly but harmless kurab, a skin discoloration produced by a parasitic
fungus, to itches, frambusia, and tenacious tropical ulcers. The kurab
(called bulenan when in small patches) appears as whitish spots on the
brown skin and spreads all over if not checked. It is cured by rubbing
the affected areas with Wang grass, but it has been discovered that
it disappears quickly with salicylic alcohol from the Chinese druggists.
Itches are cured with lemon juice, coconut oil, and frequent baths in
hot water in which legundi and ketawali leaves are macerated.
People after middle age complain of " bone trouble," rheumatism, due to the extreme humidity of the, island, and as a preventive they wear bracelets of kayu uli, a sort of black coral from Borneo. It is said that the pain can be driven out by marking the feet with a hot iron, which does not hurt the patient because the teeth of the fire are taken away by a Mantra." Headaches are cured by massage, but it helps to spray the forehead with a mixture of crushed ginger and mashed bedbugs. For stomach ache they drink the red infusion of medarah bark from Java. A cough is- relieved by drinking an infusion of, blimbing buluh flowers mixed with parched, grated coconut, also sprayed externally on the, throat. Head colds are cured by massage, but -it is good for sneezing to. smell a piece of telor bark three times. Such are the most common of domestic remedies, but for each illness there are seven medicines used consecutively when the preceding ones fail to give relief. the keystone of Balinese medicine is the principle of " hot and ", cold," irritating and refreshing, also applied to foods. Thus. a heated. or irritated condition is. cured by a cooling medicine.
are helpless in the case of infected wounds, but it is always a means
of breaking the ice with a foreign neighbor to ask for medicine for
an infected cut covered with a greenish mess and. wrapped -in a dirty
rag. Rose treated. many such cases
Katharane Mershon, former dancers, who had settled on the malarial Sanur
coast, where they conducted an improvised but effective free clinic.
They spent their spare money on medicines and took turns every day treating
scores of people, often coming from afar with the most frightful sores
the disinterested work of the Mershons made them the idols of neighborhood
and they are known, only as tuan doctor nyoya doctor. There is of course
a fine, modern hospital, in denpasar, but the Balinese prefer the more
informal, sympathy clinic of the Mershons.
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