Pura Dalem Ped (Muller, 1989/2013)

Australian Anthropologist Carole Muller researched various aspects of Nusa Penida in 1989, and reported on her findings in a publication entitled 'Nusa Penida, an adventure in 1990', published 2013. Amongst other subjects, Muller discusses a visit to Pura Dalem Ped. For her contribution on Nusa Penida textiles and aspects of Nusa Penida history, see elsewhere on this site. Below article contains selected text from her book, which includes a great number of historical black & white photographs (not published here). Carole Muller's book can be purchased from: http://www.blurb.com/b/4538449-nusa-penida

muller-2013-coverThe next morning we drove very early to the port of Kutampi on the north coast. We waited with the Balinese women and children in their fresh new temple cloths. I also dressed in my sarong and long-sleeved traditional jacket and sash (pakian adat) to appear less conspicuous. At last the large ferry from Bali arrived carrying many mainland Balinese who came to participate in the temple festival. A man carried a large, square woven bamboo basket (sok) on his head wrapped in checked (poleng) and red cloth. Other men walked alongside and carried red umbrellas painted with gold which indicated inside the basket was the ambiguous lion mask (barong ketek) from a Kuta temple. The procession proceeded to the temple in Ped.

A written historical account (babad) of the temple was called 'Dewa Aji Ped, Nusa Penida', which I have not read. The following account of the temple and some ritual activities will focus on architectural elements and features not discussed in the previous section on textiles. This information was mostly taken from my fieldwork notes and sketches, photos and observations because I did not have a guide. The three-day temple festival (usaba) in Ped was one of the most interesting and spectacular I have ever witnessed over the past forty years in Bali.

The temple complex in Ped was divided into three major sections. In the centre was the large main temple that included three separate courtyards. On the west side of the temple was the small temple enclosure dedicated to the demonic deity, Jero Ratu Gede Macaling, previously described in detail in the textile section on black and white checked cloth (poleng). On the east side of the main temple near the sea was the man-made moated island shrine, the ritual bathing place of the heavenly nymphs (dedari) surrounded by a small garden, also previously described.

During the three-day temple festival however, the small man-made ritual bathing place of the heavenly nymphs had black and white checked cloth wrapped around the outer walls of the central island. The inside of the walls were covered in white cloth. Inside the inner court were a pair of white flags (umbul-umbul) on either side of the entrance. The shrine was draped in white and yellow cloth in the small court where the priests placed offerings and performed their rituals. Around the shrine there were also placed thirteen umbrellas.

In Bali, the only man-made lake next to a temple was located on the high mountain of Batu Kauh. The lake was fed by spring waters sprouting between a pair of male-female twins; tall ancient stone statues that stood in an enclosure above the quadrangular lake. In the middle of this enormous moat was also a man-made island and central shrine which was attached to the land by wire that carried the Bali Aga priest-leader (kebayan) across the water in a large basket to perform his rituals. At the southern end of the lake a weir was constructed which when raised, fed all the irrigated rice fields down the mountain side to the coast, just east of Krambitan, from where the cepuk textile was introduced to Nusa Penida in the eighteenth century.

The twin statues at Batu Kauh suggested to me that in the main temple in Ped the two pairs of kneeling 'deities': 'male' facing north, 'female' facing south, may have also been twins. Two temple assistants purified and dressed them in white, purple and magenta with a yellow sash over their shoulders. Their different-shaped golden headdresses were made of bronze Chinese coins, round with a square hole (pipis bolong) fashioned into unusual shapes. The 'male' pair represented Ped; the 'female' pair, the temple Batu Medahu. Could the paired deities symbolically represent the positive and negative aspects of male-female twin divine ancestors?

Nearby in the north court (jeroan) of the main temple was a three-tiered pagoda with coconut fibre (ijuk) roofs. There was also a very tall solid structure with a long ladder leading to the top of the shrine in which to place offerings. In the northwest corner was an eight-post pavilion with black and white checked cloth attached around the pavilion just under the eaves. Coloured cloths seemed to be an important element of all the decorated pavilions and shrines of the three temples during the annual festival (usaba) in Ped.

The entrance in the mid-western wall of the main temple was a distinctive three-tiered old-style, Nusa Penida split gate. A nine-post pavilion north of the entrance had yellow and white cloth under the eaves. The predominant colours for most pavilions and shrines, except for red cloth on the centre pavilion and black around the serpent (naga) shrine, was yellow and white. All the village priests (pemangku) were dressed in white and faced east in the inner court when performing rituals. The temple guardians (ratu mas) were dressed in black shirts and checked hip cloths with red headscarfs. They faced west, and attended the square pavilion in the centre of the court. The main offering table attended by village priests (pemangku) was just south of the six-post square central pavilion. On the eastern side of the court was a raised long narrow temporary platform also for visitor's offerings. A pig offering and a tall remarkable pig fat offering were placed facing west in a six-post pavilion in the southeast corner. The other main temple entrance to the inner court was located in the south wall, from the outer court of the temple (Balai Agung), where two ancient frangipani trees grew. The large split gates (candi bentar) in the middle were flanked on either side by smaller entrances.

Next to the temple kitchen (paon) in the outer court, east of the south wall were split entrance gates in the old-style of the Klungkung palace (puri) with amusing stone relief carvings of animals, such as a mischievous monkey! Opposite the east entrance was another court. Located here was the large twenty-four-post pavilion of the ritual cockfighting pit (wantilan), with three steps down to the lowest level where the metal spurs of the fighting cocks (pondoh tagi) spilt blood before one died. A tall tower with split drums (kul-kul) wrapped in black and white checked cloth was in the northwest corner of this court.

It was very interesting to observe a transitional 'bridge' of poleng cloth that was laid on the ground for a procession of priests and temple attendants to walk from the outer court of the main temple and then up three steps, to the inner court. The procession was led by a dancing temple attendant in trance carrying a smoking incense brazier. Following him was a priest also dancing in trance. Many attendants were carrying umbrellas, watchful they did not hit the roofs of overhanging pavilions. It was particularly interesting to see that the charismatic statuesque temple guardian, from the western enclosure of the demonic deity, walked alongside the long procession. He did not walk on the transitional 'bridge' of the protective poleng cloth laid on the ground.

In the west temple enclosure of the demoniac deity Ratu Macaling, on the opposite side to his image and shrine was a small four-post open pavilion facing east where gold-painted headbands of the female demonic deity Durga were depicted on small figurines that were dressed in gaudy clothing. In the next pavilion nearby offerings were placed in front of the awesome masks from Sanur and Kuta, as well as the hair and feared white cloth of the witch. Although I did not see it, since the 1960s, a ritual performance of the Javanese witch drama (Calon Arang), was performed in the temple every three years on the night of the dark moon (Kajeng Kliwon, Tumpak Wayang) of the 210 day calendar (wuku). I heard that apparently in 1990, there was also a mythical elephant creature (barong) included, probably inspired by the new motif of the cepuk textile from Tanglad.

In front of the split gates leading into the inner court was a half wall (aling-aling) believed to deflect any lurking malevolent spirits (buta). Behind the half wall the ten boys from Pelilit performed a military-drill Baris Jangkang dance in two rows of five. Earlier, the very young Baris dancers were dressed outside the temple court wearing white headscarves and a kris, assisted by a villager from Pelilit. The drums that accompanied the Baris performance were like Indian tabla, covered with black and white checks tied on with a red band of cloth, just like the drums played in Tenganan, east Bali. Eleven umbrellas were planted in the ground around them, perhaps symbolizing the ten directions of space and the one representing the centre: 10+1.

More specifically, members of Parisada Hindu Dharma had visited Nusa Penida and introduced the use of eleven umbrellas, also around the island shrine surrounded by the mote. Their visit also probably activated the need for the many building materials shown in the photos. Since 1986, they also established councils in every regency throughout the archipelago (Picard, 2012:6). The umbrellas symbolically represented the so-called 'eleven powers' of the great festival held once in a century (Eka Dasa Rudra) at the temple in Besakih in 1976. I have argued elsewhere that the Sanskrit for eleven (eka dasa) can also be glossed as 1+10 (eka+dasa). In this interpretation the four main spatial compass directions and four intermediary points represents the topographical horizontal plane of human existence in the middle world. In contrast, the vertical axis of the world (axis mundi) is represented by the zenith of the upperworld and the nadir of the underworld. The ten spatial directions of the two axes intersect at the paramount point of the centre which is not a spatial direction (Muller, Nov.2012:6-9).

Exhausted by the events of the last three days, before leaving the island by ferry next morning for Bali, I thanked my intrepid driver, Moh. Nasir and my host, his father the village head of Toya Pakeh, Pak Mazuki, for all their generous assistance and hospitality that had made my short adventure in Nusa Penida so enlightening and enjoyable.


  • Muller, Carole - Nusa Penida, an adventure in 1990; Walsh Bay Press Sydney, August 2013

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