The Work and
Equipment of the Balien
Having undergone initiation in the menyarung ceremony, the novice balien is empowered to heal patients in the balien's ceremonies. In all, there are seven balien ceremonies, including the menyarung ceremony. 1 These are clearly ranked in complexity and gravity. The balien learns the simpler treatments first and gradually becomes accomplished in the more advanced procedures. The balien's apprehension and use of spirits in these ceremonies require distinctive cognitive modes as well as special equipment and accoutrements. In analyzing the ceremonies in detail, this chapter discusses time outlays, payments, material culture (equipment, accoutrements, and provisions), narrative rhetoric, and discourse.
Bubut, the first ceremony, comprises the first level of therapy. In it, the balien rubs over the patient's body stones dipped into a crushed medicinal plant, magically extracting the disease as if through magnetism. Mangait, the next level, is the location of the patient's lost soul by the balien, who offers a replica of it to the spirits, and instructs the patient's family where the soul has been taken so that another replica can be exchanged for the patient's soul. In this ceremony the balien uses stones that take him or her on a trip via waterways to disused swidden fields, graveyards, fig trees, ditches, or other "haunted" places to find the lost soul. In malai, the balien goes to the spot where the patient's soul has been located, snatches it from the spirit that has taken it, and brings it back to the patient, reinserting it into the fontanel of the head. Menindoani, the next level, is an advanced variation of mangait, made more difficult by the fact that the balien's soul must "fly" in the air and reach the land of the dead to catch the additional souls that have strayed too far to be caught through mangait. In tabak buse, baliens beat drums to communicate with the spirits. In mengadengi, spirits
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Publication information: Book title: Spirits Captured in Stone:Shamanism and Traditional Medicine among the Taman of Borneo. Contributors: Jay H. Bernstein - Author. Publisher: Lynne Rienner. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 109.
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