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Fading Relation

What is the word for kinship in Balinese? It is lucky that Balinese has a word to express this concept very correctly that is " lalintihan " from the root of " lintih " means " line " got suffix [ - an ] to form the abstract noun. For the next discussion lending the terminology of anthropology we called this lalintihan with " clan ". In the concept of lalintihan Balinese knows the following related words:
Sameton = Relative for higher casts such as Brahmana, Kesatrya and Waisya,
Nyama = Relative for lower cast of Sudra,
These 2 words also mean brothers, sisters, nephews or cousins, brothers/sisters of father /mothers, and all those genealogically related. These are a very sensitive words if one speaking to make in contrast between who has relation with whom in discussing a conflicting matter between 2 persons/groups which each of them holds the power of this relative. The limit of the domain of a " Pasametonan ( genealogy relationshp ) " or " Panyamaan " has the same meaning, sometimes is not clear, and it greatly depends on the domain of concept of the daily life. The words got Pa [semeton/nyama] an mean " related through genealogy. Basically is agreed that a clan will have the same ancestor's family temple called " dadia or panti" This dadia is considered the origin of a clan, or where the clan had splitted in the past and formed a new branch. Since it was probably a century ago there had not been a new establishment of a dadia, and continuing the previous one, although it might have been more than 10 generations already developing.

Bali Clan Line
      F1 Dadia       1st Generation
    F2 F2 F2 F2       2ndGeneration
  F3 F3 F3 F3 F3 F3     3rd Generation
Fn Fn Fn Fn Fn Fn Fn Fn   nth Generation

Above visualization is to show that from the considered first generation who built the dadia, or the first Family until the Family number N, normally a feeling of close relationship still alive at least in therory. Until now usually each generation does not know what number they are in the line. Between the same generation, let us say between F3 or Fn normally they are rarely know each other. Since the place of the dadia family temple is normally still standing at F1 house, most of the generation from F2, F3 and Fn normally know every level of generations that lives in the F1 location. The whole generations of F1 will have the responsibility of maintaining the dadia Family temple by collecting some amount of money or supporting by other ways of works or donations. Some activities which still bind every level of the generation to the dadia can be mentioned:

  1. Praying during the dadia rituals, maintenance of the temple, holy water blessing when the member of the family dead,
  2. and various incidental ritual activities which need the blessing from ancestors.

In the course of time society changes due to the increasing number of people causing the source of economy decreasing or simply insufficient to evry one with old wisdom of working spirit. While the concept of ritual continues as immemorial timeswithout rationalization causing imbalances between finace, energy and the pursue of daily life needs. This situation will causing the conflict among members of the clan, because the existence of temple needs regular rituals with the burden of the finace will be considered unfair for everyone, whatever it would have been agreed. And breakage of this line will be unavoidable.

Growing Number of Families

It is mentioned above during the course of generation, some clan can form a new branch. It is not appropriate to call a new branch, since all the generations or families that form the new branch are still bound by the dadia. According to Prof. Dr. Koentajaraningrat terminology, it is better to use 2 names to refer the lines. He proposed that, when we speak about the dadia we are discussing a big-clan, if we speak about the new branch we speak about small-clan. As mentioned above that some time within F3 or F4, or Fn a group of family due to the close residency or living in the same village they form a small dadia, called " Sanggah Gede" The position of the small dadia is considered still under the dadia, and is subject to the tradition practiced by dadia. The member of small dadia normally know each other very well, and as mentioned above the member of dadia are normally distance relative, and do not know each other, and might do not meet each other for a life time. But when he/she meet each other and unintentionally revealing their same dadia they will be immediately very close.

Terminologies of Kinship

Some Terminologies of relation between family members is expressed with specific terminologies showing the relation between father's brothers/sisters, mother's brothers/sisters, and all related close members. The following terminologies are taken from Waisya and Sudra casts, while Brahmana and Kesatrya casts have different terminologies, but with the same meaning.

English Bali Grand Father both from father and
Father Bapa mother's line is called "Pekak "
Mother Mémé  
Father's brothers Uwa Grand Mother both from father and
Father's sisters Uwa mother's line is called "Dadong "
Mother's brothers Uwa  
Mother's sisters Uwa The furthest generation still have the
Son in law Mantu name is father/mother of Pekak/Dadong
Daughter in law Mantu which called "Kumpi "
Nephew Keponakan  
Step brother Keponakan  
Son/daugher Panak  
Grand child Cucu  
Grand child's child Kumpi ( again using this terminology )

With simple sketch it can be visualized:

? ? ?
Kumpi/Kumpi Kumpi/Kumpi 1st generation
Pekak/Dadong Pekak/Dadong 2nd generation
Bapa/Meme Uwa/Uwa 3rd generation
I am 4th generation
Father's line Mother's line  

We do not have the name for the parents of Kumpi. It was probable that the time span between I(am ) and the Kumpi could be 60 years, if we try to figure out that every father married at the average of 20 years old and having child just immediately after. Why there has been no name for the father/mother of Kumpi, there would be a possibility that the average life or Balinese in the past was around 60 less years. So when a person already passed out, there would be no need a name to accost them. Ff a parent already died there is no kinship name for them to accost. Writer's assumption why after Kumpi we do not find the name of kinship anymore there had been no parent/person live more than a Kumpi in general, or if any it would be exceptional long life. So, it might be in the large part, Balinese after generating 3 level of generations they would have gone. Some Terminologies These terminologies are applicable only for Waisya and Sudra casts, while Brahmana and Kesatrya casts have different terminologies although their kinship system has the same pattern. The relation between family members as expressed with specific terminologies showing the relation between father's brothers/sisters, mother's brothers/sisters and all related close members.

English Bali English Bali
Father Bapa Grand Father ( from father ) Pekak
Mother Mémé Grand Mother ( from father ) Dadong
Father's older brothers Uwa Grand Father ( from mother ) Pekak
Father's younger brother Bapa Grand Mother ( from mother ) Dadong
Mother's older sisters Uwa    
Mother's younger sisters Mémé    

Further generation from Grand Parents is called Kumpi regardless their gender and genealogical relation may exist. While further than Kumpi there is no name so far been found. It was probably that the time span between father/mother to Kumpi is around 60 years if we use the start that every generation would have child at 20 years old. If this is used to see that span of time, it looks that the average life was 60 years. Marriage is one aspect of Balinese institution forms kinship system. From the history, marriage in Bali have known many changes and some aspects of tradition may simply left or modified as it was not considered appropriate with the development of society. Below is described in short about the marriage traditions:

  1. Marriage in the past, before 1951, was very much influenced by cast's existence. Higher casts did not allow their daughter to marry a man from lower cast, since according to them it will down grade or embarrassing the family. In case it happened to, the couple for many years will be isolated as a punishment called " Maselong ", while a man from higher casts were not banned to marry lower casts, and even up-graded the status of the woman.
  2. Forbidden to marry between brother & sister and between children of brother/sisters, and closely related blood line until the 3rd generation( the generation of Grand Father ).
  3. Forbidden to marry between father's sister to mother's brother which is believed not creating an harmonious life.

Basis of Family Line

Clannish line in Bali is based on father-line system or patriarchart system, the status of mother follows the status of father. In this case a family can not claimed any right to their parents in law. The parents in law normally give no right to their daughter who has been married. Even this status is not only a fact to the worldly life, but also in the religious life. A woman who got married, and left her family, she must also "informs" the ancestors from the family temple that she is no longer the member of the family and will join her new family of her husband. But when divorce happened it creates not small problem in the society, since divorce in Balinese society in the past was not considered a way of solving the family problem. A women is expected to accept the behavior of her husband and lives forever with her husband. In this case it was often the women become victim of the marriage. This event is such a small figure and is very rare in Balinese. Normally if divorce was unavoided, the women normally return back to her family or live with brother or sister who normally have been married also, or whoever welcome her. This is become very difficult situation for a women from the higher cast if she married a man from lower cast. It was not possible for her to return back to her pre-marriage cast. But in modern time this problem looks become loosening, and becoming more independency of women have made her position is not worrisome. The smallest family unit in Balinese family can be a basic family which is consist of a father, mother and their children. A big family can also happened when a family has more than one boys, and the boys become a men and married. One couple of this married boy, usually the younger one will continue to stay with the parent to continue the family tradition, while other married boys will go out and build their new house ( anthropology : neolocal ). It is not rare that in this family beside senior and junior family there are other members of single relative may join to stay and live in a big family. Some times added again by house maid or other family servants. The most important obligation of a family is the participation of Banjar's customary and everyday activities for public affairs. For those who built neolocal has also obligation and rights be related with their tradition as the member of Banjar's residents, but the level of obligation will not be the same as those who staying with parents or do not got equal heirs of the family especially land ownership. The customary law of inheritance in Bali regulates that the heritage of a family will be divided among sons evenly. The understanding of heritage here is not only the wealth of a family, but it includes the obligations to the Banjar and temples. The neolocal couple also build their family temple, but smaller than their parent one, basically consist of a pavilion with 3 small rooms for ancestor's worship, a tugu shrine for the local guardian of the land, and a piasan pavilion for placing ceremonial materials before the ceremony is done. Although they have already their own small family temple, they must also participate in taking care the parent's family temple, and is obligatory to pray with the family during the ceremony day. In practice what is described above still have some variations in all aspects which is mostly affected by the pattern of settlement, obscure of clannish line, and inconsistency of concepts due to the role of local figure who was considered " know " spiritual matter. This kind of figure is often considered as a consultant for a family in all aspect of life. In the past, let's say before 1980s, only few people were literate. Those who were literate considered to have more super power and often associated with supernatural power. This type of figure in some of Balinese traditional village which member are largely illiterate has a very strong charismatic influence, some times more than formal leader. The relation between various level of the clan is normally do not have institution to manage, it is just based on the relation of family temple's ritual, and is often have a history written on a palm leave called lontar. This history normally mentions the origin of the clan, and it preserved at the Dadia temple. With this reference the member of the clan feel their relation is a pride. Clan in Balinese society is not the same as cast, although in some aspects cast gives certain characters to a clan. So far we found many clans in Bali such as :

  1. Pasek Bendesa clan, Pasek Sanak Pitu clan, Pasek Kayu Selem clan, Pande clan,
  2. and others.

We can not identify each of this clan by their names, while in the past there are some traditions among the clan to used their clan name as part of name for example : I Made PASEK Wijaya, Miss Yurika PANDE, and others.

  • Bagus, I Gst Ngurah : Kebudayaan Bali, dalam Manunusia dan Kebudayaan Indonesia, Editor by Prof. Dr. Koentjaraningrat. Djambatan, Jakarta, 1980
  • Hildred Geertz and Clifford Geetz, Kinship in Bali, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago,and London, 1975, University of Udayana, Denpasar, 1977
  • Covarubias, M. : The Island of Bali, New York, Alfred a Knopf, 1937
  • Soebandi, Ktut : Pura Kawitan/Padharman dan Peyungsungan Jagat, Guna Agung press, 1981
  • Writer's Field Record on Kinship taken at Kabetan village- Gianyar, Peguyangan village- Denpasar, Pelaga village- Badung, Tenganan village - Karangasem, dan Sembiran village - Singaraja.

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Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.