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Entries in bali aga (5)


Bali Photo of the Day ~ Cat Napping Dog

Todays photo of the day comes from The Bali Aga Village of Penglipuran.  Penglipuran is known for its main walkway that is lined with traditional houses that lead up to the village temple. Each home along the way features traditional elements, chief among them being the front gates.

Here we have a dog asleep on his watchdog duties.

Penglipuran Village, one of Bali's ancient civilizations.

Bali Aga Villa tourA dog naps infront of a Bali Aga gateway in BaliFor more about Penglipuran click here and for more about The Bali Aga, please click here. If you would like to learn about and view photographs of one of The Bali Aga's rituals, click here for a photo essay on The Human Blood Sacrifice ritual of The Bali Aga of Tenganan.

Have a wonderful day!


The Human Blood Sacrifice Ritual of The Bali Aga

As discussed in previous blog posts (here and here), The Bali Aga or Bali Mula is a little known ethnic group on the paradise island of Bali and they provide an incredibly unique look back to Bali’s past and serve as a living museum of a 17th century lifestyle. 

Bali ceremony wellness retreatThe Bali Aga village of Tenganan hosts the bloody ceremony of Mekare KareThey are a secretive and private group whose ancestors predate Hinduism in Bali.  Culturally they are quite different from the rest of Bali’s population and have clung tightly to their history and ceremonies that are unlike any others on the island or the rest of Indonesia.

Bali villas ritual tourTwo youg Bali Aga boys battle during Mekare Kare

Only two Bali Aga villages remain.  The villages of Tenganan and Trunyan are located North West of Candi Dasa and Amed, in Eastern Bali and both are a stronghold of ancient native traditions.

The Human Blood Sacrifice Ritual of The Bali Aga

The Tenganans still practice an ancient rite known as Mekare Kare, which is a ritual blood sacrifice. This annual ritual fighting of its tribe members is a sight unlike any other that I have seen in South East Asia.  Mekare Kare is the highlight of the 3 day Udaba Samba celebration that occurs in May or June. 

best bali tour ritualThe mediator struggles to maintain control during the blood sacrifice ritualI have been to many villages that hold fighting ceremonies between male combatants with all manner of weapons including bamboo poles, whips, swords, shields, animal parts, etc.  Many tend to be tame and are more of a ceremonial fight than actual combat. (That’s easy for me to say as I stand on the sideline with my camera.)  While there is bloodshed and fierce competition at times during the Mekare Kare battle, the combatants always leave with a smile and maintain love for one another.  But lets be clear, these fighters are armed with razor sharp weapons that do damage and cause great pain.

bali travel photographyThe Pandanus Tree provides the razor sharp weapons used in the blood ritualPreperation for the Bali Aga ceremony

In the days preceding the big event the thorny Pandanus tree, much like a succulent, with razor sharp spines are harvested and compiled into packets of ten leaves at a length of approximately 14 inches (36 centimeters).  They also carry a rattan-woven shield to protect them from their opponent’s attempts to smack and rake the thorns into his flesh.

bali ceremony religion tourA bundle of Pandanus leaves create the weapon used in the Bali Aga Ceremony

Before the fight commences, participants drink rice wine or tuak (a strong fermented local palm alcohol- for more on tuak, click here).  This ritual symbolizes the brotherhood and love amongst the tribe. The fighting is judged and managed by a mediator who looks out for the safety of all combatants and makes sure no one falls off the platform or suffers injuries inconsistent with the battle proper. Battles last 5 to 10 minutes and the fighter who inflicted the most damage and draw the most blood with the thorny weapon is crowned the victor.

Bali art and culture tourThe crowd shouts and brandishes thier Pandan weapons during the ritual fighting

The Blood Sacrifice Battle of The Bali Aga

Early in the ceremony the young boys face off against one another and subsequent matches pit older opponents against one another.

bali wellness retreat ceremonyYoung boys are the first combatants in the Bali Aga ritual blood sacrificeAfter the battle a special traditional liquid medicine is administered to the injured (which tends to be just about everyone). Then the entire village prepares food and drink for an elaborate feast, which must follow the Balinese sacrifice of human blood.

bali villa wellness ritualThe battle scars from the blood sacrifice ritual in Bali, Indonesia

I want to reiterate that travel into these parts of Bali is not for everyone and can result in violence if the traveler is unaccustomed to the ways of the Bali Aga.  It is highly recommended to use the services of a guide or tour company like Balifornian or the many other qualified and knowledgeable companies in Bali.

bali sacrifice ceremony wellnessThe big men take thier turn battling it out during the Mekare KareHave you seen a unique ceremony or ritual like this in your travels?  Please leave a comment below and tell us about it.

Happy (and safe) Travels from The Balifonians!


More Bali Aga Images ~ Balifornian Villas and Tours Photo of the Day

Salamat Datang Samua!

I wanted to share a couple more Bali Aga photos.  I am still working on the images and text for the  mekare kare blog post, which is the ritual blood sacrifice fight ceremony.  So stay tuned for more on this ritual ceremony, but for now have you ever seen a pre-industrial ferris wheel?  Here is a photo of a wooden structure used for a ride like you would see at an amusement park.  The skill and engenering of these fine artisans and craftsmen is quite amazing.

Bali travel and tours villasA Bali Aga Ferris Wheel. The amazing craftsmanship of the artists here is really something to marvel at.Bali Photography

Meet Nyoman.  He is excited and ready for the mekare kare to begin. The ceremony draws big crowds from all over Bali.  Nyoman knew to come early to get a "ringside seat".  He is chewing betel nut which made his Bahasa Indonesia even harder for me to understand.

best Bali tours and villas ceremonyA Bali Aga villager chews Betel Nut in preperation for the fight ceremony.

Stay tuned for more on this rite and photos from the fighting ceremony. And for more on The Bali Aga please see here and here.  Please remember this area is not as safe to travel in by yourself unless you are experienced with Bali and the Bali Aga community.  I have read recently that the Bali Aga Villages and The Indonesian government have had talks recently and The Bali Aga elders have promised to be more welcoming to tourists but we do not advise entering the area without and experienced guide. Please contact us here for more help and information.

Have you seen this ceremony?  Please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Salamat Jalan and we hope to see you soon!


The Bali Aga of Tenganan ~ A Photo Essay

The Bali Aga of Tenganan, Bali, Indonesia

Bali Aga girl toursA young Bali Aga girl stands amongst colorful weavings

The Bali Aga are known as the original Balinese people and predate Hinduism in Bali.  They are a unique ethnic group that lived on the island of Bali before modern civilization. These original inhabitants of Bali fled imperialistic invaders, eventually finding refuge in the solitude of Bali's remote mountains. Today, only two villages remain, which until recently, were firmly and purposfully shut off from the rest of the world. The main temple in the village dates back to the 10 century AD (833 Caka) but the village itself is said to be much older than the temple.

Two Bali Aga Pendanda (High Priests) enter the ceremonial grounds with thier sacred Kris (swords)

Located just west of Candi Dasa and Amed lie the villages of Tenganan and Trunyan. The Bali Aga produce fine baskets and weavings and a special double weave ikat, called geringsing.  These highly sought after artworks are unique to the small region and not available any where else. A true Aga Ikat can take over 5 years to create and they are primarily used in religious ceremonies.

The Tenganan’s provide a look into early Bali but the society has very strict rules.  It can be dangerous for outsiders and is not recommended without an experienced guide.  Please contact us directly for assistance when attempting to visit this interesting but possibly dangerous area.

There are only 600 Bali Aga families in Tenganan, and locals are forbidden to marry people from outside of the village. If they do, their family is banished from the village for life.   

Bali aga culture toursYoung Bali Aga girls look on in thier ceremonial dress as the ceremony is about to begin

For more on The Bali Aga please see

Bali best travel ceremonyA beautiful young Bali Aga girl smiles as she is lead to the ceremonyAlso the Bali Aga culture practices an ancient ritual known as mekare kare, which is a ritual blood sacrifice.  Stay tuned for more on this rite and photos from the fighting ceremony.

Bali eco-tour photographyAn elder Bali Aga woman watches intently from her doorwayHappy and safe travels,

The Balifornian Team


Tenganan and The Bali Aga- The real old school Bali

This blog post on Tenganan has been moved.  Please click here to see

The Bali Aga of Tenganan ~ A Photo Essay