Trunyan - Bali Primitive Village
How could they do that? That is probably the first comment escaping from the mouth of a visitor when experiencing the ‘spectacle’ he finds at the cemetery of Trunyan Village.
The Bali Aga people who dwell in the village of Trunyan, belong to Bangli Regency
, have a rather unique custom in treating the body of the deceased. They simple leave the body on the ground to decompose naturally.
It may sound morbid and respect less, but, the people of Bali Aga believe that the fate of a body abandoned by its soul should be left in the hands of its Creator. The body of the deceased is, therefore, only wrapped in a thin shroud and lain on the villages holy ground. Should there be another body coming in before the first one completely decomposes, it will simply be place next to the old one. If the old body has decomposed, it remains e.g.: bones and skull will be put aside to make space for the new body. At a glance, the cemetery of the Trunyan Village does indeed look like a massacre ground.
The most curious thing about this custom is the fact that although the bodies are not treated with any particular substance, they don’t release any odors during the decomposing period. Apart from this unique custom, the people of Bali Aga also observe other unique customs which to most people are not quite customs which to most people are not quite acceptable. For instance, all of the girls born and raised in the village are not allowed to marry anyone from outside the village, otherwise they will be expelled from the community for good. Naturally, incestuous marriages were often unavoidable in the past.
The Bali Aga people are actually the aborigines of the island of Bali. It is understandable, therefore, that their culture and behavior are totally different from the ones of the majority of the island who came in as late as 13th century.
Nestled on the bottom rim of the Mount Batur crater, which erupted in prehistoric times, the village of Trunyan is more or less secluded from the rest of the island. The violent eruption of the volcano has caused the removal of most of its peak, leaving an almost bottomless hole filled with water from the underground rivers and springs looming around it. This water filled crater is presently known as the lake Batur. The only convenient way of approaching the village of Trunyan is by crossing the lake on a small motor boat from the other side of the lake, which is accessible by any means of transportation from Penelokan village at the top of the rim, Kintamani.
Having been isolated from the other part of the island for centuries, the people of Bali Aga receive hardly any influence from the ‘new’ Balinese people. Most of who only became aware of their existence in the early 20th century. However, the establishment of several means of access to the village has negatively affected the vulnerable Bali Aga people. Living as farmers or fishermen, the standard of living of the Bali Aga people relatively very low, compare to most Balinese. But it does not mean they were less happy. The negative impact of tourism has become a threat to their culture, as the value of money, recently introduced by visitors, has changed the way of life almost completely.