Pura Penataran Peed (Eiseman, 1986)

Fred B. Eiseman Jr. in 1986 published an article on Nusa Penida (Bali, Sekala and Niskala Volume 2; please, refer to source at the bottom of this page), which first of all consists of a 'tour' and a general description of the island (click here), and secondly an article on Pura Penataran Peed. Below, the second part of his article is presented (p.102-108).

Pura Penataran Peed & Ratu Gede Nusa (I Macaling)

This brings us to the last item for consideration in our study of Nusa Penida, the famous temple Pura Dalem Penataran Peed, that attracts Balinese from far and wide to its odalan on Buda Cemeng Kelawu and which is alleged to be the home of the spirit of one of the most Angker of all manifestations of Sanghyang Widhi, variously known as Ratu Gede, Ratu Gede Nusa, Ratu Gede Macaling, or simply I Macaling. The word Macaling comes from the Balinese word Caling, which means fangs. As you probably know, fangs are characteristic of animals and evil spirits and "coarse" or Keras characters, who are invariably portrayed as being fanged in any sort of Balinese drama.

eiseman balisekalaniskala 1986 2Actually, the shrine of Ratu Gede Nusa is only a small part of the complex of Pura Penataran Peed. But, even so, the temple (p.103) is best known for its architecturally minor feature, and the name of the temple almost invariably evokes a feeling of Angker-ness in one who hears it. The temple is not one of the Sad Kahyangan temples, but is the minds of many Balinese it is of equal importance, or at least parallel importance. Interestingly enough, it is not a beautiful, or even a moderately pretty temple. In fact, its structure is somewhat crude and cheap and ill-fitting to its purpose. The temple owns about 20 hectares of land on the hill nearby. Such temple-owned land is normal, and the income from it is used for temple upkeep and ceremonies. But the 20 ha. that Pura Dalem Peed owns is barren rock and produces no income at all.

Some of the buildings of the temple have been repaired by using concrete and lime mortar so hat its appearance is rather crude compared with the temples of mainland Bali that are so well-known for their intricate and beautiful carvings of Paras stone. In other places limestone blocks were used for construction, and the system of putting tem together was not very good so that one gets the impression that the maintenance is poor. A number of big trees were cut down nearby in an attempt to make more room when remodeling. Unfortunately, the temple was rebuilt using a style different from the original, and there are many features that distract from the feeling of holiness that one should have when entering s temple. In fact, the whole aspect of the temple is Angker - silent, and foreboding. The Balinese can usually tell if a place if Angker just by looking at it, and this is a good example. You will hear the names of Pura Dalem Peed, or Ped, and Pura Penataran Peed. The official names combines them both, Pura Dalem Penataran Peed.

The temple is north of the main road, on the beach, about 25 meters from the sea, in Desa Ped, Perbekelan Peed. It is approximately 4 km. from the village of Toyapakeh. The temple is not especially large - about 50-x50 meters, surrounded by coconut trees. In front of the temple, to the south, is a dry limestone hill. The temple entrance faces south, and in the back of the temple is the Badung Strait. There are two main courtyards to Pura Dalem Peed, the Jaba Tengah and Jeroan. Thus it lacks the usual third or outer division, the Jaba. Entrance to the Jaba Tengah is through a Candi Bentar. On the left is the Balai Dawa [Dewa?, GD], the equivalent of a Bale Agung that is usually located in a Pura Desa rather than of a Pura Dalem. The Balai Dewa is used in island-wide ceremonies for the temporary housing of Pratima, receptacles for the various visiting gods - manifestations of the Supreme God, Sanghyang Widhi. it is usual for major ceremonies, but certainly not to the Pura Dalem, There are three other small buildings in this courtyard and another Candi Bentar in the east wall.

In the center of the north wall is the entrance to the inner temple, the Jeroan, by means of a Kori Agung. Here it is built primarily of limestone blocks, with paras carvings inserted into the limestone. There are guardian statues on each side, and pillars containing the Apit Lawang, or shrines that act as receptacles for offerings that (p.104) guard the gate. A carved Bhoma faces leers down from its accustomed place over the gate. A large, gnarled frangipani tree leans over the entrance from the right. It is not a particularly beautiful gate. Somehow the paras and limestone do no blend well. There is another small Candi Bentar just to the west of the Kori Agung.

Passing through the Kori Agung, the Aling-aling, built of limestone blocks, blocks the way. And, at once, the presence of the building called Gedong Pasimpenan Pratima, a building for the storage of pratimas, dominates the scene. This is often referred to as the Tugu Penyimpenan. It is an ugly building that reminds one me of a lighthouse than anything else. About two stories tall, it towers over the inner temple - a monument to bad architectural taste. It is undecorated except for a large swastika set over the arched entrance and two guardian statues in front. The tower, for that is what it is, is stepped back so that it is in four sections. But the succeeding steps are not large enough to make this feature beautiful. The third step has a small carving in each face and one at each top corner. The entire tower is plastered with lime mortar, and, when I was there, the top two sections were painted yellow. Of course, the impression is that this is the most important part of the Jeroan, which it is not. And, as mentioned above, it destroys the feeling of holiness that one expects in a Jeroan.

The building in the southwest corner of the Jeroan, the Bale Gong, is built in the style of a Keraton, a style of Central Java, not Bali. And in this building is an Asagan, a table that is normally set up temporarily for large ceremonies and generally made of bamboo. Here it is made of concrete and quite permanent. In the northwest corner is the Padmasana shrine, the empty seat for Sanghyang Widhi. Padmasana normally are set upon a carved Bedawang Nala, the world turtle, surrounded by the two sacred snakes, the Naga. But Bedawang and the snakes are lacking in Pura Dalem Peed. Perhaps this feature was omitted because, as the Balinese put it, the situation and conditions were not balanced.

In the center of the east wall is the shrine to Dalem Peed, also known as Dalem Dukut, who overcame Ratu Gede Nusa and made him his minister. it is not large or impressive. the shrine for Ratu Gede Nusa, or I Macaling, is not even in the Jeroan proper, but, rather is located just west of a passageway in the west wall, also accessible from the Jaba Tengah at the extreme northwest corner, via a smell passageway. There is a small courtyard in front of the entrance to the shrine, which faces south. This is the really Angker part of the whole complex - the home of the dreaded Ratu Gede Nusa, spreader of disease, evil, and, if you will, patron saint of the Leyaks of Bali - those who seek to gain advantage over others by the use of black magic.

You might well wonder why such a Tenget and Angker spot is the focus of attention by so many Balinese people. One would, perhaps, think that they would give wide clearance to such a magically powerful center of evil and sickness. If you think that way, then you don't really understand the essential nature of Balinese Hinduism. First of all, the Balinese world is a world of opposites and contrasts, as (p.105) explained repeatedly in Volume I of this book. Good cannot exists without Evil, since both are manifestations of the spirit of Sanghyang Widhi. Two Sanskrit words that you should know are Purusa and Pradana, meaning, roughly, male and female principles. Stop and consider that Bukit Mundi, the highest point of Nusa Penida, stands directly south of and opposite to Gunung Agung and Pura Besakih. Gunung Agung is the place of Bhatara Siwa, the male principle, generally regarded with reverence, if not love, then at least great respect. Bukit Mundi is the home of Ida Bhatara Durgha, or Dewi Rohini, the female and terrible aspect of Siwa Bukit Mundi is remote and relatively inaccessible. It is usual in Bali for such sacred places as this to have branch (Pasimpang) temples located in more easily reached areas. So Pura Dalem Penataran Peed is the branch of Bukit Mundi. The word Penataran refers to the fact that a temple is a branch of another temple. And so Pura Dalem Penataran Peed and Bukit Mundi stand in opposition and contrast to Pura Besakih and Gunung Agung - Purusa and Pradana, positive and negative, good and evil, male and female. But, in Balinese Hinduism, it is precisely the joining of these two opposites that create the energy of the world, the life and movement of the universe. In the Jeroan of Pura Dalem Peed, the Padmasana shrine, rather unusual for a Pura Dalem, represents the main shrine, Pura Penataran Agung, at Pura Besakih. The connections between the two as the axis of the opposites seems inescapable. And perhaps this is why some if the more philosophical Balinese visit the area on its odalan day.

Another reason is the typical Balinese thought that, if someone or some manifestation of God is powerful enough to bring evil and sickness, then surely he is equally capable of preventing and curing evil and sickness. According to legend, I Macaling does not go around indiscriminately harming people with disease and death. His powers focus upon those who have been violated religious prescriptions and otherwise strayed beyond the bounds of accepted Balinese Hindu behavior. So, it is considered a valid and worthwhile motivation to go to the shrine of I Macaling and seek his power to ward off evil and sickness.

According to the late Ida Pedanda Made Sideman of Sanur, when Ida Bhatara Gunung Agung, Ida Bhatara Batukaru, and Ida Bhatara Rambut Siwi came to Bali from Java they brought 1,500 holy people called Wong Samar. This group was divided into three. Ratu Nusa Gede, of I Macaling, meditated, got his power, and was chosen to be head of one of group of 500 Wong Samar. About the time of Batu Renggong's kingdom, which occupied East Java, Timor, Lombok, Sumbawa, and Bali, the King decided that he wanted to have control over Nusa Penida. He sent one of his generals there to conquer. But this general violated the important courtesy of announcing his presence and intent to the king of Nusa Penida, Dalem Dukut. The latter became very angry and sent the forces the Wong Samar against the general and killed him. Once again Dalem Batu Renggong picked a general, this time equipping him with a special sacred weapon, Ganja Malela. But, once again the Wong Samar resisted the attack, broke the weapon, and killed the general. A third general, however, had the ultimate weapon, Pencok Sahang, said to be the tooth of Naga Basuki, one of the two sacred snakes that are entwined around (p.106) the world turtle, Bedawang Nala. And, with this weapon, the general, Gusti Jelantik, conquered Dalem Dukut and killed him. Jelantik was a gentleman, for he had approached Dalem Dukut before the battle and announced his intentions. Dalem Dukut, realizing that he could not oppose the tusk of the Naga Basuki, gave the Wong Samar to Batu Renggong, and admonished the general to perform the necessary cremation rites after his death. Otherwise, said Dalem Dukut, the people of Nusa Penida will be constantly bothered by the Wong Samar as evil spirits. On the other hand, if the Wong Samar, I Mecaling as their leader included, were treated with respect and in the proper religious manner, the people would be helped to prevent or conquer disease and sickness. So Dalem Dukut was killed, cremated, and his is one of the principle shrines in Pura Dalem Penataran Peed, as mentioned located in the center of the east wall. It is small and unpretentious, but it is his influence that was important - more important than that of I Macaling, who was only his minister. And so it is that people from far and wide come to the temple on the beach to seek protection from sickness from I Macaling, Ratu Gede Nusa. And so it is that this rather unattractive temple ranks almost with the Sad Kahyangan temples in importance to the Balinese people.

The odalan of Pura Penataran Peed takes place on Buda Manis, Wednesday, of the week Kelawu, week number 28 of the Pawukon. The ceremony usually lasts for three days. There are no accommodations, but people do not come here to sleep, but, rather to pray and meditate. There are plenty of food stalls set up all around the temple, just as at the odalans of all major temples. And there is usual some form of entertainment, such as dances or Topeng.

In addition to the normal odalan, there is also held here a Ngusaba ceremony, but only if the situation is good - rainfall, harvest, health. Then the pratimas of all the other temples of Nusa Penida are brought to Peed, and the gods of Nusa Penida assemble in the Bale Agung in the Jaba Tengah of Pura Dalem Penataran Peed. This taking place in a Pura Dalem is rather unusual. Such gatherings normally occur in a Pura Desa or Pura Puseh. But, then Pura Dalem Peed is an unusual place, lacking even a nearby cemetery.

But, the most important thing in the minds of the Balinese is I Macaling, Ratu Gede Nusa,. frightening in his tall, bent over form or in his short, fat form. He is the head of the Wong Samar, so that he has authority over the 5 Taksu, the mysterious powers that give one control over working magical wonders. The Wong Samar follow him wherever he goes, and dogs bark at him. He exacts a tax from those who make mistakes, and these get sick and die. But he is also a protector of people against enemies if he is approached properly and offerings are made to him in the proper spirit.

So, Ratu Gede Macaling, as most other ideas in Bali, has two sides to him, evil and good. The Balinese know that the Wong Samar will help them if they are treated with respect and if the proper offerings are made. They know equally well that the Wong Samar will harm them if this (p.107) is not done. And one of the reasons that Pura Dalem Penataran Peed is as important as it is, revolves around what seems to me to be the preoccupation with sickness and disease that occupies the thoughts of many of the waking hours of the Balinese. If a magic power can cause a disease when neglected, the same magic power can cure it if treated with respect and reverence. The same power that brings disaster to a certain village can, under proper circumstances, prevent disaster.

So here we have on this strange little island of Nusa Penida a strange little temple. It is an architectural disaster. Its crop land is non-productive. It has little money for upkeep, and such maintenance as has been done is crude, unattractive, and detracts from the overall feeling of holiness that one should get in a temple. It is called a Pura Dalem, yet, in the strict sense of the word it is not. Its largest building is not by any means the most important, but rather merely a storehouse for pratimas, and, at that, a structure that is ungraceful and intrusive. It has a Bale Agung such as belongs in other temples, and it is host to a Ngusaba, which is quite atypical of the function of a Pura Dalem. Even its sacred pratimas were burned long ago when a fire destroyed the house of the pemangku in which they were kept. [Possibly, this is Pak Pedoman, who refuses any comments or interviews on the matter, GD 2007]. Its principle shrine would probably theoretically be considered to be that of Dalem Dukut, the ruler of Nusa Penida in the time of Batu Renggong. Yet this shrine is eclipsed by that of the arch villain of Nusa Penida, Ratu Gede Nusa.

And again we have the seeming contradiction that this Angker, Tenget spirit, I Macaling, the cause of all sickness and evil, is, nevertheless a magnet that attracts people from all over Bali to come and pay respect to him once every 210 days. Part of the motivation is warding off evil by pleading that I Macaling not threaten them or their families. Part of the motivation is the typical feeling among the Balinese that the source of evil can be turned into a source of the prevention of evil, invoking one of the fundamental principles of Balinese Hinduism, Rwa Bhineda, the principle of opposite forces.

Indeed, it would appear that Pura Dalem Penataran Peed is as important as it is because it, in its function as a branch of Bukit Mundi, stands in opposition and contrast to Pura Besakih, in its function as a branch of Gunung Agung. So the two temples represent the Purusa and the Pradana, the male and female principles, whose union creates energy, motion, and life on the earth. The swastika, as its spins, is the symbol of that creative energy. And that is why this symbol, which those of us who lived through World War II view with a slightly different point of view, is such an important one to the Balinese. It symbolizes the creation of the universe and of life in the universe. And that is perhaps the deeper significance of Pura Dalem Penataran Peed.

The average Balinese man on the street no more understands these philosophical implications than the average Christian man on the street understands the finer points of his religion. Perhaps the average (p.108) Balinese understands the philosophical basis of his religion even less well than a Westerner, because the Balinese are not great readers. And even if they were, most of the sacred literature is not available in a form intelligible to him, having been written in Sanskrit or Kawi. To the average Balinese Pura Dalem Penataran Peed is simply the Angkerest place in Bali.


  • Eiseman, Fred B. Jr. - Nusa Penida, in: Bali, Sakala and Niskala, Vol.2, First Ed., Chapter 5, p.93-108, 1986

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