MODERN DANCE. SANGHYANG She was not forced. Absolutely not. So many people saw her. Can you force somebody to sit on a funeral pyre in front of five hundred people?’. ALL VIDEO AND MUSIC BY CHRISTOPHER LAWRIE. PLEASE USE HEADPHONES

These Artworks consist of juxtaposed elements of visual, audio and text. They are not necessarily intended to be illustrative of each other.



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MDO 78. SUTTEE While they attended to his body she went to her bathroom, had a bath and put on the brand new clothes that she had stored in her trunk. For sati we don’t wear widow’s clothes but wedding clothes, with the ivory bangles and everything. The colour she chose was a sort of light pink called saptalu, which none of the wives of the Sisodias can now wear because they now do puja to that colour. When she had dressed she sat with her husband’s head on her lap all night. Twice his body perspired and twice she wiped it down saying, ‘Why are you so impatient, I am coming with you. Be calm.’ In the late 1950’s, a Royal Sati took place. Performed in Jodhpur by Sugankunverba, the widow of Brigadier Jabbar Singh Sisodia. Her act of self-immolation occurred illegally and supposedly in secret. The Maharani Padmavati Gaekwad of Baroda, her close friend, provided this account of her death in 1984:

The Practice of Sati (Widow Burning)


MDO 87. MAREECHA “When I was small,’ said Budal, a sixteen-year-old who had been six at the time, ‘one day the teacher told us to run home quickly. To go through the rice fields and avoid the road. To hide if we saw men with knives or guns, or we’d be killed. We saw many things and understood nothing. A man hid up a coconut palm weeping. Another with a gun heard the lamentation and shot him. He fell dead to the ground. There were dead everywhere. At night the soldiers would come through the village and shoot whoever they saw. We all saw these things. We had to keep quiet and not cry or we too would be killed. Neither innocence nor guilt was of much account. Death came to both.” Australian artist Donald Friend, who arrived in Bali in 1967, later recorded the account by Budal, one of his houseboys, of the massacre.

Cameron Forbes. “Under the Volcano: The Story of Bali.”

Mareecha, a master sorcerer, was the demon that took the form of a golden deer to mesmerise Sita.

Mareecha PDF


MDO 89. ROOP KANWAR Roopkuvarba Kanwar (c. 1969 – 4 September 1987) was a Rajput woman who was immolated at Deorala village of Sikar district in Rajasthan, India. At the time of her death, she was 18 years old and had been married for eight months to Maal Singh Shekhawat, who had died a day earlier at age 24. News reports of the incident present conflicting stories about the degree to which Kanwar’s death was voluntary. He had leathery skin and a grey walrus moustache. On his head he wore a bright orange turban. ‘Of course I was here,’ he said. ‘And not just me: the whole village. Everyone was here, no matter what they say now. Yes, I saw the whole Sati with my own eyes. She was not forced. Absolutely not. So many people saw her. Can you force somebody to sit on a funeral pyre in front of five hundred people?’ ‘But didn’t you feel you should have stopped her?’ I asked. ‘No one can stop a Sati,’ replied Under Singh. ‘’We believe that if anyone stops a sati they will be cursed. Something will definitely happen to them.’ ‘And she didn’t try to get off the pyre?’ ‘No,’ said Inder. ‘It was her own choice. Sati is something from inside. It is no Sati if it is forced. When the fire was lit she just sat there with her husband’s head on her lap. She seemed to feel no pain. You see, Satis have a special power. When the Gods want something they can do anything.’ William Dalrymple : ‘In Search of Kali’ Trailing her light skirt of misty silk She surpassed the fragrant beauty of dark orchids As she wandered on the hillside. Then, quickly, happily, she roamed at her pleasure Leaning on rainbows and shaded by flowers. She plucked mystic plants at the torrent’s edge. Cao Zhi

Roop Kannwar 1 PDF Roop Kannwar 2 PDF


MDO 82. MADE GELGEL He watched the Klungkung Puputan. He told of young children, in white, wearing krises at their waists. ‘They came out, the little ones, and shouted loudly. It brought joy to the hearts of their parents. They shouted and laughed angrily while drawing their krises, all of them. You see, if they acted like that, the Dutch would understand it would really happen. They were fired upon, then … They all died, the little ones.’ At the end of the puputan ‘they were in rows, the bodies. The blood flowed in streams. I was there watching. It flowed, that blood. Below the banyan tree the blood was scattered all the way south … the country was destroyed.’ What was destroyed was Balinese independence. Fearing military attack, the Raja of Bangli requested that his kingdom become a Dutch protectorate. Bali became a Dutch possession, Margaret Wiener interviewed Made Gelgel, who claimed that, as a twelve-year-old, he watched the Klungkung puputan. Cameron Forbes. “Under the Volcano: The Story of Bali.”


Made Gelgel PDF


MDO 85. NYUPAT “The communists clad themselves in white and marched to the police station to give themselves over to be killed on the spot. Killers and the families of the killed alike believed that these happenings were manifestations of transcendental forces. Later on, when all the killings had stopped, all over the island the people organized purification ceremonies and cremations to render the land clean of all evil. In general the families of those some 40,000 people who had been killed kept quiet. They would never talk about their lost fathers and brothers or sisters except to each other. Therefore it has never been possible to establish exactly how many people died. They would never make any claim over lost property or other wrongdoing inflicted on them during the horrible period of mass hysteria. That was all according to the will of the gods.” Nyupat , that is, the shortening of someone’s life in order to give them a chance to be reincarnated as a better person. Made Djelantik, a highly educated adopted religion, tradition and Nyupat as an explanation for the events of 1965–1966.

Cameron Forbes. “Under the Volcano: The Story of Bali.”



MDO 80. SOLCHANUDiN / SHAHEED Why did you volunteer to be a suicide bomber? Because I was told by Islamic teacher, Subur, that by doing it heaven’s door will be instantly opened for me. As soon as my blood drops all my sins will be erased. I will be escorted to heaven by seventy goddesses and I will be able to help seventy of my family members. Have you ever met these goddesses? Do you know what they look like? No. Do they look like movie stars? I don’t know, sir. What if they have scars and are ugly? Solchanudin is silent. So you just believed what they told you? Silence. exchange between Judge Wirya and Solchanudi / Bali bomber.

Cameron Forbes. “Under the Volcano: The Story of Bali.”



MDO 87. 1965 / 1966 She regards the spirit world as real. She has seen leaks, those witches and shapechangers, several times. When she was ten years old she saw a monkey leak on the wall of her compound. When she was fourteen, on three different occasions, she saw red, blue and yellow lights as she was riding her bicycle home past a temple in a grove of big trees which were considered magic. When she was fifteen, lying in her room, she could hear her parents’ voices outside. A woman with blood in her hair appeared and wanted to kill her. She prayed to God for help, and the woman disappeared. Luh Ketut Suryani, who pedalled through the carnage in 1965 to Udayana University, graduated in medicine and then won her PhD as a psychiatrist


MDO 86. Ratna Manggali and Dewi Durga “Bali was calm at first in 1965, after the coup attempt, then the army comes and influences people, saying, “If you do not kill them, we will kill you”. So the people are frightened and they try to find people who they feel are communists and they kill. I feel this was not their purpose, but because people were scared and they try to save themselves by killing people they feel to be communists. A hundred thousand people die at that time. I ride my bicycle among the dead, and the people walk by and nobody moves to do anything.”

Cameron Forbes. “Under the Volcano: The Story of Bali.”


MDO 81. PUPUTAN The three thousand troops were confronted by a dazzling procession of men, women and children: the entire royal court in full ceremonial dress, warriors with sun glinting on lances, and women carrying krises. It was a puputan. This is an official Dutch report: About 11 o’clock a.m., a great crowd passed the crossroads, clothed in white and armed, and marched in an eastern direction … The Artillery fired, and although the effect of the fire in the densely packed crowd was appalling, no hesitation in the enemy was perceived. Women with weapons in hand, lances or Kris, and children in their arms, leapt fearlessly on the troops and sought death. When we tried to disarm them, this only led to an increase of our losses. The survivors were repeatedly called upon to put down their weapons and surrender, but in vain. The uninjured made the use of each pause in the fire to kris the wounded, and then rushed anew with naked weapons on the troops.

Excerpt From: Cameron Forbes. “Under the Volcano: The Story of Bali.”

Puputan is a Balinese term that refers to a mass ritual suicide in preference to facing the humiliation of surrender. Notable Puputans in the history of Bali occurred in 1906 and 1908, when the Balinese were being subjugated by the Dutch.


MDO 90. ISMOYO “For ten generations a great white buffalo will plough the rice fields of Ismoyo [Java]. This will be a time of suffering and deep sorrow. When the people have finally accepted the Divine will as their own, God, in his mercy, will send them an ally. A little yellow monkey from the island of Tembini will rule over Ismoyo for the life of one maize plant. Only then will Ismoyo return to its people, to its right rulers, to the sons of the earth.”


MDO 83. SANGHYANG On occasion women and girls bearing flowers accompany the medium, one or several, male or female, to the temple. The medium squats down. Incense swirls up. Prayers are murmured, singing women dance around strewing flowers. A priest sprinkles the medium’s bent back with holy water. The medium begins to tremble and moves the upper part of his body in rhythm. With a dull cry, almost a bellow, he leaps up and dances wildly, threateningly. Others may leap up and dance too. A ray of moonlight plays on the jewels in the handle of a kris. The fixed gaze of the dancer falls on it, he tears it from its sheath, and the flashing serpent of bright iron whirls between and around the bodies of the dancers. Soon the last dancer sinks to the ground exhausted, twitching.

Gregor Krause. Winessing the Sanghyang.


MDO 79. COLONISE Let the Balinese live their own beautiful native life as undisturbed as possible! Their agriculture, their village life, their own forms of worship, their religious art, their own literature — all bear witness to an autonomous native civilisation of rare versatility and richness. No railroads on Bali; no Western coffee plantations; and especially no sugar factories! But also no proselytizing, neither Mohammedan (by zealous natives from other parts of the Indies) nor Protestant nor Roman Catholic. Let the colonial administration, with the strong backing of the Netherlands government, treat the island of Bali as a rare jewel that we must protect and whose virginity must remain intact. The protection of Bali was taken very seriously by the Dutch.

Geoffrey Robinson quotes what he describes as ‘the classic statement of the preservationist position’ by GP Rouffaer: 1907

Concerning The Spiritual in Art
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