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Jakarta Post

A dream from the dead in Tanjung Maju

  • Markus Mardius

    The Jakarta Post

Ketapang, West Kalimantan   /   Thu, March 19, 2015   /  07:13 am
A dream from the dead in Tanjung Maju

In the rapoh ritual, the skulls and bones of the dead are moved from one final resting place to another. It is rarely done '€” perhaps once in a hundred years, according to those who live in Tanjung Maju, about a seven-hour drive from Pontianak.

The story begins with Eduardus Beda, 48, who said that he had been plagued by dreams where he continually met the same unknown figure.

His father, Sebastianus Ingkan, 65, suggested that they consult with a well-known shaman and customary chief, Adrianus Singsang, 43, from nearby Pergung village.

According to Sebastianus, Adrianus was familiar with receiving messages from the dead in dreams. In this case, Adrianus was visited because of a man named Panglima Suka.

Local elders say that Panglima Suka died at 103. He was a famous hero who had fought the Japanese in Landak regency before he died in 1960 and was buried in Tanjung Maju.

Adrianus said that after casting a spell, the Panglima Suka appeared to him in a dream and asked that his grave be moved.

The shaman said that Panglima Suka was tired because many people had come to his grave asking for sustenance and to be healed '€” leaving his grave in poor condition.

'€œThe shaman advised that preparation of offerings and the cleansing of the old and new cemetery should be conducted a week later,'€ Sebastianus said.

Hoisting the sanokng into the air.Hoisting the sanokng into the air.

'€œThere was an intirok ritual held to drive evil spirits from the new location and at the same time ask for permission to occupy it,'€ said Ignatius Campeng, 54, the head of Tanjung Maju village.

The sanokng, a pole upon which is affixed a 1.5-meter box to hold a tajor earthen jar '€” was cleaned after the shaman running the introk ritual was finished.

Meanwhile, at the new location, shade trees and grass were cleared and a new grave was dug. A tent was set up to host the bones after their arrival from the old site.

It took two hours for the people carrying the tajor and sanokng to proceed from Tanjung Maju village to the site of the new tomb in Baram, where local leaders welcomed them.

A few minutes later, a shaman cast a spell near the grave, poured a cup of tuak liquor and started swinging a black chicken to and fro.

Feathers were pulled out, then waved over the heads some of those assembled.

Two pigs were then slaughtered and their blood poured into the grave and earthen jars. Some was also placed on the foreheads of members of the family of Panglima Suka.

Direct descendants refrain from eating catfish, four legged-animals, and winged animals for a month before the ritual, according to Adrianus.

As the ritual proceeded, several small animals such as snakes, centipedes, and birds appeared.

'€œThose animals may not be disturbed, let alone killed. The animals are a sign from of the deceased. He is happy because of the new location. If there no animals that appear, then we should find a new location,'€ Adrianus said.

Local leader Antonius Undoh, 72, said that the ritual was seldom done. '€œIt will only happen with those local figures who have great merit. For examples, patinggi [local officials], customary chiefs, the chief of the tribe and great shamans.'€

Other times, the dead advise the living of the need for a change.

'€œThe deceased in a dream felt that he could not stay any longer in the old tomb,'€ Antonius Undoh said, when asked to describe an experience he had 20 years ago. '€œHe ordered to move [his bones] to a new place. In fact, I never saw his face.'€

As part of the ritual, a 1.5-square-meter box was placed on top of a huge pole, which was then erected.

A two-meter-high tajor made of iron and wood was placed a meter from the new grave. A type of earthen jar was placed on top to hold the bones.

Verterbra and foot bones were placed inside; skulls kept in earthen jars inside the tajor; while other bones were placed inside a tajau earthen jar placed at the foot of the tajor.

Offerings were then brought into the new tomb: six black chickens, two pigs, betel nuts, areca nuts, incense, gambier plants, iron pickaxes, yellow rice, four pieces of ancient plates and tuak.

Providing the offerings can cost about Rp 40 million, according to Sebastianus Ingkan, who hosted the event.

Thousands were on hand for the festivities throughout the day, including Sandy Pangarua from Gerai, about 25 kilometers south of Baram.

'€œThis is a hideous ritual, but at the same time it is fascinating, the 22-year-old said. '€œSo far, I have only heard the stories from my father about the rapoh ritual. Now, I can see it directly.'€

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