Trunyan, Where The Original Balinese Live

Published: 15th July 2010
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The village of Trunyan is squeezed tightly between the lake and the outer crater rim of Batur, an almighty volcano in Kintamani. This is a Bali Aga village, inhabited by descendants of the original Balinese, the people who predate the

arrival of the Hindu Majapahit kingdom in the 16th century. It is famous for the Pura Pancering Jagat temple, but unfortunately visitors are not allowed inside.

There are also a couple of traditional Bali Aga-style dwellings, and a large banyan tree, which is said to be more than 1,100 years old. At Kuban sub-village close to Trunyan is a mysterious cemetery that is separated by the lake and accessible only by boat - there is no path along the steep walls of the crater rim.

The village of Trunyan itself is situated at the edge of Batur Lake. This location is inaccessible except by boat, and it takes around half an hour across the calm waters. Getting to Lake Batur takes around two hours drive to the northeast of Denpasar along the main road to Buleleng and through Bangli Regency.

Trunyanese society has two 'castes', the banjar jero and the banjar jaba. These castes are not based on the Hindu ideas of purity, but are instead determined by descent during the period of the Gelgel dynasty. This caste system is an important example of when outside influence actually did affect the life of the Trunyanese people, for those belonging to the banjar jero are the descendants of rulers, id est the Trunyanese who were appointed by the kings of Gelgel to rule, and those of the banjar jaba are the descendants of the people, id est those who were ruled by the banjar jero.

Another example of outside influence is the requirement for their young men to travel through lowland Bali for a time to live as beggars. This little known practice, reminiscent of the itinerant monks of Thailand, derives from the strong Buddhist tradition of the area a thousand years ago.

Prestige consciousness, which is so dominantly present everywhere in Bali, also plays an important role in the Trunyanese society, and the hosting of an major ceremony is the time when a family can raise prestige within the community. This manifests most clearly in the context of their wedding ceremonies, which "should be impressive or not held at all". As the economy of Trunyan is mainly based on agriculture, it is difficult for the Trunyanese to accumulate wealth. In this respect there are married couples with children in Trunyan who continue to postpone the wedding ceremony because of the expense. Besides, an official wedding ceremony in Trunyan is only allowed to take place after the male candidate has taken part in the Berutuk ceremony.

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