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Old 15th June 2013, 06:43 AM   #1
Frank Newgent
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The King of Tampak Siring

Tampak Siring, Bali, is home to the Gunung Kawi Hindu Temple complex dating from the 11th century, with the ancestry of Tampak Siring's most aristocratic family traceable to the time when various regencies ruled the island.

After failing to emerge from the bathroom of a massage *extra* a few weeks back in nearby Gianyar, his driver investigated and found the body of a lifeless King with steroids or, possibly, Viagra rumored to have led to the stroke that killed him.

Tomorrow is the day of his grand cremation ceremony in Tampak Siring. Though modern tourist infrastructure such as hotels or expensive restaurants is nonexistent, the town is on a main highway leading from Kintamani on the Mount Batur caldera down to the coast.

The King's thirty foot high black wooden ox sarcophagus will be handed off between the thirteen different banjars (local Bali Hindu affiliations) situated in Tampak Siring in a long continuous parade of costumed locals banging cymbals and gamelan leading to the cemetery where he'll be burned.

The black ox has been under construction for the last week on the main street. It is a beautifully constructed beast of hugely intricate appliqued detail, with Tampak Siring home to thousands of black wood, antler, and fossil ivory artisans.

My wife and I will be gussied up in traditional garb by carver friends of ours to join the festivities. This is going to be great. I hope it's cloudy.
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Old 15th June 2013, 06:49 AM   #2
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It sounds pretty interesting.
Will you be able to take pictures?


Just don't slip up and call him the "King of the Tampax String".
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Old 15th June 2013, 07:01 AM   #3
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Not that far from Ubud it seems. I'd also love to see pictures.

I've been to Bali three times. It's beautiful.
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Old 15th June 2013, 07:19 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Alferd_Packer View Post
It sounds pretty interesting.
Will you be able to take pictures?


Just don't slip up and call him the "King of the Tampax String".

It's very interesting. Though he was "King" the post was entirely without power and he wasn't even of Brahmana or priestly/scholar caste, as most of our carver friends are.

The King was of the Sudra caste... technically outside the system from what I can figure but certainly not elevated like an Ida Bagus Brahmana.

Spoken Balinese is incredibly complicated as it reflects the status of the speaker in relation to the status of the listener/other speaker.

On an everyday level i have almost no grasp of it whatsoever. Just stick to plain Indonesian and I call even rice-field worker bapak (sir).

Far as pictures go... imagine we'll take a few though I am never inclined to rush in with a long lens. Don't even have one.
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Old 15th June 2013, 07:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Not that far from Ubud it seems. I'd also love to see pictures.

I've been to Bali three times. It's beautiful.

I remember that, a few years ago. We missed each other by less than a couple weeks.

Yeah, near Ubud... we are just outside of there, maybe thirty minutes on back road to Tampak Siring.

Beautiful for sure.
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Old 15th June 2013, 08:53 AM   #6
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Where would Balinese get lots of fossil ivory? All Siberian imports?
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Old 16th June 2013, 05:17 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Floyt View Post
Where would Balinese get lots of fossil ivory? All Siberian imports?

Mammoth ivory mainly Siberian, yes (some Alaskan). Fossil walrus ivory (with a CITES permit) Alaskan.
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Old 16th June 2013, 07:05 AM   #8
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The ceremony proceeded flawlessly until the body of the King of Tampak Siring was reborn onto this mortal coil.

Flipflops were everywhere on the street lost from the feet of the bearers of three platforms holding the black ox sarcophagus, the immense ornate tower carrying the body of the King, and an accompanying white-curtained thirty foot high bamboo staircase.

We followed the crowd straight to the cemetery and watched the preliminaries. Soon the body of the King was in the sarcophagus which was lit. It burned nicely until the gods intervened, the front of the ox unexpectedly collapsing with the body of the King sliding out headfirst and falling about twenty-five feet to the ground directly in front of us.

Many voices exclaimed adieu as the King lay there only partially burned with his feet in the air. Like your pants suddenly falling down and revealing a turd.

Unprecedented for a Balinese cremation such disorder. I was wondering how the frantic cremasi keepers were going to manage to haul his ass all the way back up into what remained of the back of the ox sarcophagus. It was too high and burning away.

Bali is a modern place in many respects and a short metal box equipped with major flamethrowers was already in place beneath the ox to catch what remained of the body and totally incinerate it. Plan B kicked in. Everybody watched in silence as the King was deposited into this conflagration. His feet extended well over the top of the box, the only part of his body visible from where we were.

The Battle of Iwo Jima would've been a week shorter with the accelerants they were pumping in there. After ten or fifteen minutes my concern that the whole thing might explode overcame curiosity at seeing what two burning feet suddenly dropping off would look like.

Met up with our buddy Astina for some delicious chicken soup back down on the main street.
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Old 17th June 2013, 12:59 AM   #9
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The grand and the grotesque, inextricably mated. Ah, human ceremony!
Reality has no taste.
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Old 17th June 2013, 07:20 AM   #10
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the tower bearing the body of the King as it was first hoisted... a priest by the yellow
banner throwing rice like it was Mardi Gras to help counteract any contraband ju-ju




the King's body is arranged in the ox after being moved over from the tower via the staircase (yellow and white banner)



just before the King's body fell headfirst landing with his feet in the air out the ox's chest



the alert viewer might note the King's feet extending to the right from the metal box... maybe hard to discern the Iwo
Jima superheaters in this photo




Back up the hill today doing business in Tampak Siring... hardly anybody was laughing. Consensus was too much styrofoam was incorporated into this sapi.

Because this was the King all thirteen of Tampak Siring's banjars were involved in arranging this cremation, helping lead to the totally unprecedented fiasco. Any normal family/single banjar cremation would have had one person overseeing a properly constructed and reinforced giant animal.
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Old 17th June 2013, 07:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Frank Newgent View Post
Back up the hill today doing business in Tampak Siring... hardly anybody was laughing. Consensus was too much styrofoam was incorporated into this sapi.

Because this was the King all thirteen of Tampak Siring's banjars were involved in arranging this cremation, helping lead to the totally unprecedented fiasco. Any normal family/single banjar cremation would have had one person overseeing a properly constructed and reinforced giant animal.
Is everyone cremated in a, one assumes properly constructed and reinforced, giant animal?

How do you/they pick which animal?
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Old 18th June 2013, 06:01 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by meg View Post
Is everyone cremated in a, one assumes properly constructed and reinforced, giant animal?

How do you/they pick which animal?

There will be an animal corresponding to the caste you are born into. Some leeway in the way the animal is characterized if "you think you are smarter than your ancestors" from what my buddy Surya told me today. Helps if who matters in your family and banjar think you are smarter than your ancestors, too.

Ox, dragon, winged lion, fish the usual suspects.

Bali not formal as India concerning the caste system. Indonesia actually prohibits different treatments based on caste though economic differences definitely linger.

Everybody rates a proper cremation ceremony though they are really expensive... paying the priests, washing the body rituals, building the animal sarcophagus. Bodies often buried sometimes for quite a while until the ceremony can be paid for and, importantly, done on the proper day for such a ceremony, determined by priests and wacky ritual calender. Seems to be in July and August a lot.

Balinese tend to be happy to interact folks though it seems you can hardly even take a crap unless it's done in a certain way. Could be why so many are such artists... attention to detail is compelled.
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