Rajah in the Kajeng collection of Balinese manuscripts

In Bali, many palm leaf manuscripts (called lontar) contain texts on medicine, black and white magic and almanac divination, or combinations of any of the three. In Bali the three different subjects are not clearly demarcated and one simply flows over into the other. It is good to bear in mind that in Bali, the boundaries between philosophy, religion, history, divination and sorcery, and medicine are diffuse and not the same as in other cultures. They are moreover intertwined and for that reason not always understandable to outsiders. Mostly, manuscripts on medicine, magic and divination consist of miscellaneous texts each part of which divided from the other by clear punctuation marks. These texts can be very short and sometimes very small manuscripts contain only one of these texts, usually on black magic.

The manuscripts on medicine we are concerned with here are called usada or tamba of which a large variety exists. For instance, medicine works to cure children’s diseases are called Usada Rare, those to cure smallpox are called Usada Kacacar (in the Kajeng collection represented by manuscript 46), Usada Tuju to cure rheumatism (in the Kajeng collection represented by manuscript 38), and so forth. Many manuscripts are simply called Usada without any other indication of what they are about. The three most important texts are the Usada Budha Kecapi, Kalimo Usada, and Dharma Usada and the ‘King of the Usadas’, Usada Sari. These texts deal with the human body and the nature of illnesses. Other usadas deal with more specific medical problems in more details as the Usada Kacacar and Usada Rare mentioned above. In 1937, Dr. Wolfgang Weck published a detailed book on Balinese healthcare and he studied many of the texts in these manuscripts and their mutual relationships. The book was republished in 1976 and 1986. It is written in German and in it, he also describes a number of magic drawings.

Medicinal manuscripts with or without rajah are usually made by individual healers or divinators for their own use. Because of this, they are all different because the makers had the same needs and they all had their own ways of doing things. The same holds true for manuscripts on magic but not the ones on divination as the system behind this intricate way of predicting future events and people’s characteristics were more standard although also here variation exists. The cures for diseases and other afflictions mostly consist of medicines and treatments with mantras to be uttered over the patient whereas for some cures also rajah are required to which offerings are added in some manuscripts. Not all manuscripts contain rajah and why some do and others do not is unclear. If a cure really consists of a combination of medicine, mantras, and rajah (and offerings) it would seem that the ones without rajah would be less efficacious. Of course, to solve this puzzle we need to go into the field and talk to medical practitioners to see what the answer to this question is. Some manuscripts contain cures and such with rajah at the right places where they are needed.

Almanac divination is called Tenung and a detailed study was made of this by Marie-Thérèse Berthier and John-Thomas Sweeney and published in 1978 in French. They also studied magical drawings and published a book on this in 1976, also in French. Magical drawings were also studied by the indefatigable C. Hooykaas and his findings with many illustrations were published in 1980 in Dutch. The Indonesian book by I Gede Jaman published in 1999 is rather more recent and, like the other books, offers a profusion of illustrations that cover many aspects of the rajah world. This work is basically an Indonesian translation of Hooykaas’s work of 1980 which was moreover also published in English under the title Drawings of Balinese Sorcery, also published in the same year. It is clear from the above that the study of these drawings is an international affair.

DREAMSEA has been to Bali once to digitize the collection of the Kajeng family from Banjar Alangkajeng in Denpasar. Among the 54 manuscripts digitized from this collection, some contain rajah and they will be discussed here.

The Kajeng collection contains some manuscripts on usada but only one has some rajah. This is a manuscript of the embat-embatan variety which means that the leaves still have the central spine and only one hole at the left. It is a manuscript of the Usada Kacacar and it has a drawing at the righthand side on leaf 3v and it has magical syllables at the end on leaf.

DS 0030 00046 003v
0030 00046 003v (detail) The text says: Iki rajahnya. wus rinajah. (This is the rajah. already given the rajah).
DS 0030 00046 010v. Magical syllables.

The second manuscript with rajah is a manuscript that presents the rajah needed to expel danger from people and the places they live and work in. They are called tumbal and a large variety exists in many manuscripts. The manuscript in the Kajeng collection is of an exceptional high quality as can be seen from the two examples below.

DS 0030 00024 leaf 22v Kuta Janma Sanga (Indik Tumbal) leaf 22v. Iti tumbal kamaranan gring, srana ampel gading, marajah kadi iki, banten sega kuning telung kepel, iwak sarin taluh bebek, mabanten ping 2. This rajah is to protect against diseases. is the antidote when illness attacks you. Take yellow bamboo and put a rajah on it like the one in this picture. The offering consists of three handfuls of yellow rice and the yoke of a duck’s egg. Use this offering twice.

Rajahakna paripih tibrah, makatumbal ring sarira, asing ana mapaksa ala, katon denira sgara, de sang mapaksa ala, salwiring dusta, mangkana palanya. Iki rajahnya, pendem ring karang. Put a rajah on a piece of copper to protect yourself. When someone wishes to harm you as (your grounds) will look like the sea to the person who wants to harm you in any way. It is the same who wants to steal from you. This is the rajah, bury it in your grounds.

DS 0030 00024 leaf 5r Kuta Janma Sanga (Indik Tumbal). The text says: Iki sasuwuk, umah wit wong mati magantung, srana, tebu sala ireng, tandur kaja kangin, patiga ring batu bulitan, majarah kaya iki. Brajamaya. This is the charm to cleanse a house where a person has hanged himself. Use black sala sugar cane, plant it to the east in the direction of the mountains, a triangular piece of black smooth stone with the rajah Brajamaya as in the illustration.

DS 0030 00024 leaf 5r Kuta Janma Sanga (Indik Tumbal) (detail).

DS 0030 00024 leaf 20r Kuta Janma Sanga (Indik Tumbal) (left side). The text says: Iti susuking marana gering kadadak, akeh mati. This is the charm to cleanse a place where a sudden epidemic has taken place and where many people have died.

DS 0030 00024 leaf 20r Kuta Janma Sanga (Indik Tumbal) (right side). The text says: Iti susuwuk sasab ayam kurungan, srana, ampel gading rajah kaya iki, caru iwak bawi metah, sega sakepel, rajah iki genahaknya ring sanggah ayam. This is the charm to ward off an epidemic among caged/fighting roosters. Use yellow bamboo with a rajah like this. The offering is raw pork fat and a handful of rice. Place this rajah in the offering shrine in the rooster’s house.

The third manuscript contains a text on the Kanda Mpat, the four ‘siblings’ that accompany the birth of a child. They are the amniotic fluid, blood, vernix caseosa and the placenta. They will stay with a person throughout their life and will protect them. No two manuscripts are exactly the same as noted by Hooykaas who studied some Kanda Mpat manuscript in his richly illustrated book published in 1974. The quality differs from the manuscript on the tumbal above as may be seen from the illustration below.

DS 0030 00021 27r Kanda Mpat, the four siblings that are born with a person: Anggapati mahan (matemahan) sang Suratma, I Mrajapati matemahan sang Jogor Manik, Banaspati matemahan Kala, Banaspatiraja matemahan sang Dorakala, Sang Hyang Langgaprana matemahan Dewa Sangha. Anggapati becomes Sang Suratma, I Mrajapati becomes Sang Jogor Manik, Banaspati becomes Kala, Banaspatiraja becomes Dorakala, Sang Hyang Langgaprana changes into the nine gods.


Berthier, Marie-Thérèse and John-Thomas Sweeney, Bali, l’Art de la Magie. Paris: Delta, 1976.
Berthier, Marie-Thérèse and John-Thomas Sweeney, Tenung. Le Livre des Explications. Traité Divinatoire de la Tradition Balinaise. Paris: Guy Trédaniel, Editions de la Maisnie, 1978.
Hooykaas, C. Cosmogony and Creation in Balinese Tradition. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Hooykaas, C. Tovenarij of Bali. Magische tekeningen. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1980.
Hooykaas, C. Drawings of Balinese Sorcery, Leiden: Brill.
Jaman, I Gede, Fungsi dan Manfaat Rerajahan dalam Kehidupan. Surabaya: Paramita, 1999.

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