Gambling with cocks in Bali
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Taji Sharp Blade

Tajen is Balinese word for cock fighting gambling, yet in the sense of true gambling of Bali Tajen has developed from a small number of men gathering at the village temple during the ritual provocating their cocks to fight each other until one or either were dead or one gives up armed with sharp two sided knife tied at the leg of the cock involved in fighting. Both cocks will injure each other, even kills one or both. This sharp knife called " taji " which word forms "tajian", and tajian is assimilated into " tajen " The bebebotoh is the name of tajen gambler who use the money for betting at the cock fighting field called " kalangan tajen " It is not known when Balinese started to know this type of gambling.

Cock Fighting at Other Areas

We know that in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Lombok also exist the tradition of cock fighting, but the cock is not armed with taji like in Bali. Here the winner is the cock that made it's sparing smacked down until it gave up or run away with the sigh of tortures. During the kingdom of Bali it was permitted by the smaller kingdoms as the source of retribution or a kind of tax. This is probably the beginning of popularity of tajen.

Priests Knowledge

Among priests this activity is related to a requirement of religious ritual called " tabuh rah" which is no doubt a bad tradition already discarded years ago. The meaning of tabuh rah is assumed as essence of blood. During a ceremony called " macaru " some tabuhs are needed such as alcohol of coconut ( tuak ), alcohol of rice ( brem ), and including essence of blood. It is a pity that no one among priests or leaders understand the background of the practice just like the existence banten offering. Writer think that the element of blood essence is the influence of Buddhist left hand path such as Tantrayana school who was ever existing in Bali, and it's influence on the completion of Banten in Bali has been very strong. If we see the Pedanda ( Hindu priest ) when conducting various offerings, it is very clear from his hand gestures called " Mudra ". The mudra is belong to the tradition of Tantrayana who belives that hand gestures can arise magic power as well as the belief of chakra in the body of human beings. It is just no rational basis that can be understood by human being. This must all the practiced by priests and other religious leades, that how far they understand this activity is a big question. Many Buddist elements have influence the practice of Bali Hindu ritual, such as mecaru, going around 3 times clockwise or pradaksina, and the way the pedanda priest conducting ritual or mudra. It is really a pity that such religious leaders do not derstand.

Tajen as Gamling

TajiSince the government of Indonesia declared with regulations that tajen is one of gambling and is forbidden, the bebotohs looking for a reason that tajen is a tabuh rah, for requirement of ritual, and always organize the tajen during the temple ritual, or during family ritual. The birth of tajen inspired a person to write superstitious forecasts. We do not able to find out weather the writing was made by a brahmana or a common people. Seen from the language it would have been written around 18th century. This manuscript is called " Pengayam-ayaman" or simply means the consultant for bebotohs to foresee what cock will be the winner on certain day of the tajen, what color of the cock will be the victorious, and at what direction the cock should be provocated for the first time on the battle field. The manuscript claims to be able to give clues to the cock that will win the battle.

Keeping the People Negligence

During the 18th century common people did not have the skill to write such a manuscript except the priests, even it was the fact that common people were prevented to gain the knowledge of writing by some restrictions imposed by the tradition such as before starting to read and write one must got a ritual called " meprayascitta" which is not easy for common people. Common people can not put the written material at any place or step down or put under the bed or at any time under lower places. If any one offences this tradition it is said that he will be cursed by the invisible spirit. So this is a perfect way to make people illiterate until today. Further effort by the priest even more conspicuous by making an opinion that on the day of Saraswati is the day of knowledge where manuscripts got special offering. Indeed the illiterate also make offering to the temple aside from the offering focused to the manuscripts or books, as the symbol of knowledge.

A myth of Dewi Saraswati, the daughter of God Brahma is now appointed as the god of knowledge and directing common people to get knowledge by making offering to the Goddess of Saraswati instead of learning seriously on knowledge. So, whatever the writing about tajen and the symbolic knowledge, nature has succeeded in keeping people illiterate until today.

The bustling of tajen continued until 1980s without opposition from any person or even government, most of the bebotohs had sacrificed their properties, wife, and children, as they have chosen to be a miserable people, yet the view of large part of Balinese especially house wives are totally refuse the existence of tajen. The fact that house wives have been the most directly affected by the tejen, as a bebotoh neglects his obligation, even damaging his family. As naturally part of gambling, tajen like having a magic charms of easy money.

Tajen Triggers Other Gamblings

Gambling using card, ball, and others usually crowded around the tajen field. A tajen has an organization such as " sayan tajen " like a committee, tools such as kulkul to start and stop the cock fighting, or giving session, coconut shell water fountain to measure the session time, and indeed a god who protects the whole entity of tajen. See at a glance the life of bebotohs during tajen it is hard to understand such as they are in an extasic or euporia.

Naming of Cocks

Balinese gives cocks names and also hen or chicken based on the color of it's feathers. Within this mixed colors there are names such as biing ( red ), buik ( blue - black - white ), klau ( mostly blue and black ), berumbun ( mixed color of grey, black and white ), putih ( white ), ijo ( dark green some time with black ), and others. Beside it's good tradition to give names for their cock that is probably at the beginning was started with the need of easier way in tajen or rituals because both tajen and ritual have the same importance of the name of the chicken or cock. Certain ritual can only sacrifice biing or berumbun, while others need both or even every colors. Until now no one can find weather tajen or ritual that has been initiated the name for the cocks.

Terminilogies Of Tajen Gambling

There is arising opinion among bebotohs when a couple of cocks being provoked to fight that one of it is bet as the winner. This cock that is bet to win bybebotohs in Balinese is called " kebut " Normally the position of kebut meaning that most of the bebotohs will put their money to bet on it. Those who bet the other cock which is only got fewer betters, will be benefited by the willingness of a large part of bebotohs on the field to double or even triple the amount of the money be put on his winner favorite. When the "pekembar" the two men provoke two cocks to fight with knife already tied at each leg, then the bebotohs standing around the field starting to shout " biing - biing or buik-buik or cok-cok, or gasal-gasal " and others.

Biing means that the shouter invite other bebotohs to bet against him that he put the betting for biing colored cock ( red cock ) and if any person put his betting on the fighter of the red cock he wish to bet the money on agreement of the amount. Some bebotohs with great belief that his winner favorite will get triple of the amount of rival betting which is indicated by the shouting of " tluin - tluin ". Cok and gasal. Tluin means one bet with 3 and rival with only 1, while cok means even, and gasal means one with bigger amount and rival smaller amount with negotiated amount.It is probably clear about double or triple betting above, here is tried to take an example. In a tajen the bebotohs agreed to put into battle ( Bali : mayuang ) their cocks, say between rooster A and B. When both cocks enter the battle field the bebotohs have the information already of the physical superiority of each cock, added with the information of superstitious belief of the manuscript they will choose one of his favorite winner, weather it will fall to A or B. Not all bebotohs use this opinion to choose favorite winner. Some of them only follow their feeling, some only follow others, some use previous session fightings as the indicator of next winner.

When a large part of the bebotohs choosed A as the favorite winner, then the rival better will imbalance, it might come to a position that A got 70%, and B only 30%. In this case those bebotohs who choosed A will take a risk to put 200% of the amount of rival money to bet on A, so who bets on B only prepare their money 30%. It is strange that a cock which is " kebut " or a large part of the bebotohs put betting on it have more success compared to the minor one. This is probably having to do with the physical condition of the cock compared to it's rival. In this case indeed an experienced bebotohs will know this. Today the existence of tajen is truly on the edge of steep drop as the government has been strongly put the measures that this type of gambling has made most of the people of Bali fall into misery. But the fact there are still some learnt people giving strong advocation of this gambling on their stupidity into the future of the society

Garis Bali

Bali Clothing
Bali Coffee
Bali Cuisines
Bali Traditional Healing
Bali Holiday
Banjar Settlement Unit
Flower for Rituals
Keris Traditional Weapon
Kulkul Traditional Bell
Subak Irigation
Tajen Gambling
Tirta Gangga Park
Traditional Market


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.