Customs in Noesa-Penida (Tantra, 1933)

Below article on customs in Nusa Penida was published Ida Bagoes Tantra in monthly magazine "Bhawanagara", April 1933. Tantra writes on "macekang tugu" land purchase, burial, cremation (ngabèn) & marriage customs, but also provides an additional glossary of Nusa Penida language, a 'supplement' to Grendeng's article "Noesa Penida" published in the same magazine in 1931; see elsewhere on this site. Spelling of Indonesian and Balinese names is the same as in Tantra's original version. Additional comments by Godi Dijkman in square brackets.

tantra bhawanagara cover

Image right: magazine cover

Nusa Penida customs

Dear Editor of Bhawanagara. Please, consider below writing for publication in your magazine as it serves the public interest.

Customs regarding the 'pasang tugu' oath

Generally, the original people of Noesa Penida still treasure an oath or declaration (persoempahan) deeply-rooted in Nusa Penida society, i.e. to make people 'swear' by 'macekang tugu' (matjekang toegoe). Examples of cases (perkara) where the oath applies are when a 'tegalan' (plot of dry land and not irrigated field near the rice fields but used for vegetables and other secondary crops**) is contested. If in this case one of the two parties needs to swear an oath, the village head asks the party who needs to swear a 'macekang tugu' oath is willing to [recognise?] borders of the land he wishes to possess. If the decision is [mutually?] agreed, the 'macekang tugu' is settled. For this 'tugu' oath, bakung wood (kayu bakung) is used, but other types of wood are permitted as well. The day of the 'macekang tugu' must fall on 'kliwon' [an auspicious day in the Balinese calendar]. The local healer (baliyan) is the only person to place the tugu, using offerings. Both parties to the 'tugu' and the village heads must be present to witness the ceremony (oepakara). The meaning and purpose of the 'sesapan' during the macekang tugu [ceremony], is the same as stipulated for those who swear by reading lontar [palm leaf inscriptions of] Aritjendani. This is, in a nutshell, the belief according to local customs.

Corpse burial customs

I Ktoet Gerendeng in "Bhawanagara nomer pertjontohan" (no.8) already mentioned this, but it deserves a concise follow-up.

People are not allowed to cremate their dead if the corpse has already been buried at a graveyard. This is the reason people in Noesa-Penida rarely bury their dead at graveyards, but prefer to bury them in their tegalans (not considered a graveyard) so they are allowed to cremate it when it suits them. Apart from the tegalans, generally they bury their dead within their houseyards, as this is considered a way of keeping the beloved deceased closer to the family before cremation. This custom is adhered to with the exception of the villages of Mentigi, Sampalan, Batoenoenggoel and Koetampi, as the custom in the latter villages is similar to customs in [mainland] Bali.

tantra bhawanagara april1933Image left: magazine cover/colofon, April 1933

Cremation customs

In the mountain villages, people cherish slightly different ways of honouring the dead, i.e.: if poor people wish to cremate their dead, they need to 'ngebèt' their deceased [family member] nine days or at least a week before the cremation day, and take it back, because their income will be 'cremated' as well. Consequently, only when the deceased is kept in the house, they are allowed to feed the spirit of the deceased person.

Only in a village called Penangkidan in the 'perbekelan' of Sakti, people have been reported to cremate their dead without using the kain "kadjang". Instead, they used a white cloth considered 'kadjang', which is decorated with 'orek-orekan' by people who were considered village elders.

At the time these corpses are still kept inside the house, if friends or acquaintances come to 'medjenoekan' the party performing these 'works', everything [is] used to 'medjenoekan' or assist (metoeloeng) with for example live pigs, baskets of rice, tied-up rice stalks and so forth, as this needs to be given to the dead in front of the 'balai' where the dead is placed. As the family who buries the dead keeps track of who donates exactly what contributions, they pray that the spirit of the deceased will hopefully appreciate the gifts offered and reciprocal help is requested from the offering parties with the objective of requiting these generous offerings.

This is all that needs to be written about these customs, as the other customs are similar to those in Bali. The majority of Nusa Penida inhabitants do not make use of the services of a high priest (pedanda) to bury their dead as they do not dispose of sufficient financial means to pay him. Additionally, there are also those who don't make use of the holy water (tirta) provided by the pedanda, as water retrieved from the 'Pedoman' or 'pemeradjan' temples suffices.

Marriage customs

An honourable marriage in Noesa-Penida is performed by buying [a spouse]. If [a woman is] not sold by the parents-in-law, no sign [of a marriage proposal] can be considered a voluntary marriage by either party. The price of a girl can reach 200 pekoe kepeng, whereas the lowest price paid is ten pekoe kepeng. If the marrying party is not able to pay for his bride, he is allowed to give up his position of future son-in-law (berlaki bini) to become a voluntary worker (ngajahang kerdja) at his parents-in-law's house for the duration of the period he is not able to pay the costs of his bride. By nature, girls are very shy if the dowry is not paid, and they are not willing to marry. Hence, they rather choose to live separately.

Table below: Noesa-Penida dialect words not yet introduced by I Ktoet Gerendeng (see 'Bhawanagara Nr: Pertjontohan moeka 16'). Note by Godi Dijkman: Indonesian & English translation were kindly provided by I Gusti Bagus Rai Utama; below lemmata have been introduced in alphabetical order in 'Glossary' elesewhere on this site.

Bahasa Noesa-Penida Bahasa Bali Indonesian English
hengheng iboek sedih sad
kedjapa kidja kemana? where?
dwang dogèn hanya only
bahi lasia babi pig
ogan djat pasti certain
bales kelebih deras (hujan) heavy (rain)
tara toesing tidak no; not
lampasan bolotan berlumuran (kotor) stained, dirty
sedahet daoeh ro siang midday
tetangga pisaga tetangga neighbour
mesoetsoet maloekat membersikan diri wash oneself
botjoh bogbog bohong lie
erat-eroet lioenan daja curang cheat
kahi ketjag ketinggalan, tertinggal lag/left behind; 
todjol soegoel menonjol be prominent
tètèh terang iler, air liur drool
marag ngawag-awag sembarangan indiscriminate
dat djag hancur broken
meroengas gedeg rengas pemarah grumpy
lenger gedeg marah angry
ragoe agor bimbang undecided
akah won malas lazy
patang mendep diam silent, quiet
keserit njetang tergerus eroded
oelitan iketan ambengan ikatan alang-alang 'bond reeds'
nonggèk negen ngoendit dua beban double burden
joeh kèweh sulit, sukar difficult, cumbersome
milih pepes sering often
lahi - (siang) siang late afternoon
lanoes - (lanus) laporan report
hèntong kétoang begitu so, that way, as it is
kaloek kelebih berlebihan excessive
tari (tare) toesing tidak no, never
sesaiat asisir sebagian partially
tjeta makeneh bermaksud meaning, intending
lawangan koeri pintu door
tahan 1) - (taen) tahan stand, hold
sabroet toesing karwan; keneh belum tentu not necessarily
lot makelo lama a long time
noedjeh ngarah memberi informasi inform
angoen belog bodoh stupid
berotot ngawag-awag ngawur talk nonsense; be inconsequential
beresit apik rapi neat, orderly
gerot samah bulu (lebat) (dense) fur
bering gedeg marah angry
sahak belas pisah split
isin sangsaja ragu-ragu be in doubt, doubtful
dekpoetin depin biarkan let go, leave it to be
pengabet anak loeh (bini) perempuan (istri) woman (wife; spouse)
ladem rasa rasa flavour; feeling?
bakoeh pajoek pangedangan panci untuk memasak cooking pot

1) This is the same as a tool resembling a sickle (arit); in Bali there is also "tah" (taah?), almost as large as 'madik', a 'merabas' tool for mountain people. Red.


**) Echols, John M et al. - An Indonesian-English Dictionary, Third Edition, Jakarta 1992


  • Tantra, Ida Bagoes - Pemandangan Adat Noesa-Penida, in: "Bhawanagara, Soerat boelanan oentoek memperhatikan peradaban Bali"; Redactie: I Njoman Kadjeng, I Ktoet Widjanegara, I Njoman Mas Wirjasutha; Commissie van Advies: I Goesti Poetoe Djlantik, Dr. R. Goris; Alamat Redactie dan Administratie: Kirtya Liefrinck-v.d. Tuuk Singaradja; Harga langganan: f2,50 setahoen; Advertentie: berdamai lebih dahoeloe; No.11, Tahoen II; April 1933 (Waiçakha 1855), p.174-176

* Original Indonesian text *

Pemandangan Adat Noesa-Penida

Toean Redacteur Bhawanagara jth. Karangan saja jang dibawah ini, kiranja toean timbang ada goenanja boeat oemoem, soedilah toean memoeatkan dalam toean poenja madjallah boelanan Bhawanagara.

Adat menjoempah orang dengan djalan pasang toegoe

Orang di Noesa-Penida pada oemoemnja pendoedoek asli masih ada soeatoe persoempahan jang sangat tebal dipertjajai, jaitoe menjoempah orang dengan djalan "matjekang toegoe". Perkara jang dapat memakai soempah terseboet, misalnja: ada kedjadian didesa perkara tentang mereboet tanah tegalan, kalau perkara itoe perloe salah satoe sebelah pihak disoempah, maka kepala desanja tanja, apakah berani ia si beperkara jang sebelah pihak jang perloe disoempah matjekang toegoe pada watas-watas tanah tegal jang dia ingati kepoenjaannja. Kalau soedah kepoetoesan disetoedjoei, maka djadilah matjekang toegoe. Adapoen jang dipakai toegoe itoe, jaitoe teroetama sekali mesti kajoe bakoeng, kalau tidak dapat boleh lain kajoe. Hari matjekang toegoe itoe mesti dipilih pada hari kliwon. Pada kalanja pasang toegoe itoe, pakai djoega sadjén-sadjèn dan melakoekan sadjèn itoe ialah balian. Kedoea pihak perkara dan kepala-kepala desanja mesti hadlir (=hadir?) menjaksikan oepakara itoe. Sesapan pada waktoe matjekang toegoe itoe, maksoed dan toedjoeannja ialah sama sadja sebagai orang bersoempah dengan dibatjakan lontar Aritjendani. Demikianlah kepertjajaan adat itoe jang saja terangkan tjara singkat.

Adat orang menanam majit

(p.175) Pada karangan toean I Ktoet Gerendeng di Bhawanagara nomer pertjontohan (angka 8) soedah djoega ditjeriterakan ini hal, tetapi pada hemat saja, perloe sedikit disamboengi lagi.

Orang tidak boleh mengabèn majitnja, kalau soedah telandjoer ditanam dikoeboeran. Oleh sebab itoe di Noesa-Penida djarang sekali orang tanam majit dikoeboeran, melainkan mereka tanam ditengah-tengah tegalannja (djadi dianggep boekan koeboeran) soepaja boleh lekas diabèn bilamana sadja ia soeka. Selain di tanam ditegalan, oemoem djoega mereka tanam majitnja didalam pekarangan roemahnja, sebab menoeroet perasaannja soepaja lebih rapat ketjintaannja kepada simati itoe selama beloem diabènkan.

Adat jang saja terangkan terseboet, diketjoealikan dari desa Mentigi, Sampalan, Batoenoenggoel dan Koetampi, sebab adat-adat pada bebandjaran terseboet itoe, sama sadja dengan adat oemoemnja di Bali.

Adat orang mengabèn

Pada desa-desa jang letaknja dipegoenoengan terdapat djoega sedikit perbedaan tjaranja orang menghormati majitnja, misalnja: Kalau orang jang sedikit mampoe mengabèn, maka ia perloe sekali sebeloem 9 atau sekoerang-koerangnja seminggoe dari sebeloem hari pengabènan ngebèt dia poenja majit-majit dan teroes dibawanja poelang, sebab pendapatan mereka oleh sebab akan diabènkan, djadi hanja selama masih tersimpan diroemah sadja ia dapat memberi makanannja pada roh jang mati itoe.

Pada soeatoe desa jaitoe didesa Penangkidan bawah perbekelan Sakti saja pernah lihat orang mengabèn disitoe, tiadalah ia memakai kain "kadjang" melainkan pakai sadja kain poetih jang dianggap kadjang dengan ditoelisi orek-orekan oleh orang jang dianggap ketoea didesa itoe.

Sewaktoe masih majit-majit itoe disimpan didalam roemahnja, bilamana ada kaoem kerabat atau kenalannja datang medjenoekan pada jang poenja kerdja itoe, maka segala apa sadja jang dipakai medjenoekan atau metoeloeng, misalnja: babi hidoep-hidoepan, beras bakoel-bakoelan, padi ikat-ikatan dan sebagainja, maka itoe barang perloe ditoendjoekkan pada simati dimoeka balai tempat majit itoe dan oleh singabèn mentjeriterakan keadaanja siapa jang membawakan dan apa jang dibawa beserta ia berdoa moedah-moedahan roh si mati itoe akan memperhatikan djasa orang kepadanja dan diminta soepaja sama menolong dari sitoe soepaja dapat lekas terbalas kebaikan orang terseboet. Adat terseboet, hanja sebegitoe sadja jang perloe saja toendjoekkan, sebab jang lainnja sama sadja dengan keadaan di Bali. Orang mengabèn sebagian besar tidak pakai Pedanda, jaitoe ada djoega karena tidak koeat mengongkosi Pedanda, dan ada djoega memang tidak pakai tirta dari Pedanda, melainkan tjoekoep pakai tirta jang diboeat pada poera-poera Pedomannja atau poera-poera pemeradjannja. Demikianlah adanja.

Adat perkawinan

Hormatnja perkawinan tjara di Noesa-Penida, mesti dengan membeli oemoemnja. (p.176) Kalau tidak didjoeali oleh meetoeanja, soeatoe tanda tidak dapat keridlaan perkawinan mereka itoe. Harga orang perempoean sampai djoega kadang-kadang dengan harga 200 pekoe kepeng dan semoerah-moerahnja 10 pekoe kepeng.

Kalau jang mengawini itoe tidak mampoe membajar pembeli bininja, maka ia boleh menjerahkan diri berlaki bini diroemah mertoeanja oentoek ngajahang kerdja pada roemah mertoeanja itoe sementara ia beloem koeat membajar pembelinja itoe. Pada tabiat perempoean jang sangat kakoe hati, kalau pembelinja beloem dibajar, mereka ada maloe sekali berlaki pada lakinja dan ia lebih soeka bertjerai. Demikianlah ringkesnja.

Table: Bahasa orang di Noesa-Penida jang beloem termasoek dalam karangan Toean I Ktoet Gerendeng. *)

*) Lihat Bhawanagara No: Pertjontohan moeka 16
1) Kalau bahasa ini sama barang sebangsa sabit (arit), di Bali ada djoega jang bernama "tah" (taah?) hampir sama besar dengan madik, perkakas merabas bagi orang goenoeng. Red.

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