Bali’s obsolete Bali Aga are buried in ash

The immeasurable pool of magma effervescent underneath Bali’s Mt. Agung continues to explode daily promulgation plumes of volcanic charcoal into a air. The volcanic activity sealed a island’s airfield and disrupted a tourism industry. Most of a 100,000 Balinese forced to leave shortly competence be means to lapse to their homes. But for a 300 residents of Trunyan, a little encampment during a bottom of a volcano, life as they knew it competence be perpetually changed.


I initial listened about Trunyan in a 1970s when we was a Time match in Saigon. According to internal lore, a encampment was “discovered” by fight photographer Sean Flynn, whose swashbuckling repute equaled that of his Hollywood father, Errol. Flynn listened rumors of a puzzling people, unwelcoming of outsiders, staying in a shade of an active volcano on a apart side of Lake Batur, a H2O filled caldera combined by a volcanic tear 25,000 years ago. What he found after channel a lake was a allotment of obsolete Bali Aga who called themselves “the strange Balinese.”

Unlike Balinese Hindus elsewhere, a Bali Aga did not commemorate a passed with elaborate cremations.  Instead, they placed their defunct kinsmen underneath a immeasurable tree and let inlet retrieve a bodies. In my imagination, Trunyan seemed both awful and outlandish during a same time.

On my initial RR outward Vietnam, we went to Bali, rented a motorcycle and headed to a Balinese highland city of Kintamani. That night from a losman veranda we stared opposite a immeasurable lake and watched Mt. Agung separate glow into a night sky, devising what it contingency be like to live underneath a volcano.

Events in Vietnam cut brief my vacation and it wasn’t until some-more than 20 years after that we returned to Kintamani dynamic to finally accommodate a Bali Aga.  After walking to Lake Batur we found a male with a hollowed out prahu peaceful to take me opposite a lake to Trunyan for $2.

It took a improved partial of an hour for us to paddle opposite a lake. Upon reaching a apart shore, Trunyan was hardly manifest by a vines. we walked adult a murky route by a bird-filled jungle and arrived during a normal Balinese encampment whose portal was graced by a image full of tellurian skulls.

Despite their meaningful acquire mat, a people of Trunyan were some-more indifferent than antagonistic to a foreigner in their midst. Neither did they intent when we asked to revisit their ancestors. A organisation of immature group station only outward a encampment wall with zero to do escorted me to a quarrel of open graves underneath a large tree. And afterwards they walked divided with nary a peek during a camera we extracted from my bag.

I was respirating a whine of service when one of a teenagers incited behind toward me and pronounced with pinnacle seriousness, “Before we go don’t forget to leave a money charity beside a skulls.”

Left underneath a tree with my boatman, who fast immune himself and headed behind to his prahu, we began walking toward a graves by a landscape dirty with frosty femurs, tibias and good gnawed vertebrae. More disconcerting than a piles of skeleton were a yapping of encampment dogs that clearly forestalled any emergence of almighty peace.

Volcano 02

The graves themselves were surrounded by shaft enclosures of a arrange that competence support unfeeling vines in villages serve from a volcano. Inside any reed crib lay a skeleton solemnly falling into a jungle floor.

I’ve suspicion a lot about Trunyan recently. There’s always a probability a encampment competence redeem if a volcano becomes dormant. The mark where Mt. Agung slopes into Lake Batur is simply too pleasing to be deserted forever. But a Bali Aga’s particular enlightenment can’t tarry divided from a relations siege that authorised it to exist. If Trunyan’s people ever lapse they competence find their funeral etiquette no longer fit into Bali’s fast changing world.

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