Cepuk Sudamala from Nusa Penida

Cepuk Sudamala

Nusa Penida, Bali

In Bali, each child has four such siblings that manifest physically as the umbilical cord, the water that surrounds the child in the placenta, the white vernix caseosa covering that protects the unborn child’s skin from the constant exposure to amniotic fluid in the womb, and the placenta itself. After birth all of these “siblings” lose their physical form except the placenta, which is hurriedly buried in the family compound and covered with a stone that is routinely bathed and offered food at the same time as the child is washed and fed. These sibling spirits remain with the child throughout life and it is to them that prayers are said and offerings are made with each otonan birthday of the physical child.

A Balinese will celebrate their oton every 210 days to ensure continued protection from these sibling spirits. Sometimes, when Balinese experience continuous difficulty in life, they will seek a balian healer to better understand what has gone out of balance. Sometimes the shaman will suggest particular offerings or prayers at the persons next oton. This black cepuk sudamala from Nusa Penida was made for the otonan of a Balinese at the behest of a balian to cleanse the body of any negative influence. Only one black cepuk was needed, but to make it the weaver had to make four, one of which is shown here.

Warp ikat, single panel, rolled and sewn edge, commercial cotton, natural dyes. Ikat tied, dyed, woven in Nusa Penida, Bali, 2020.

191 x 90 cm / 75 x 35 in