On Knowing and Not-Knowing Spirits in Indonesian Borneo

Wooden floor covered with cloth, blankets, thin mattresses; in the right part of the picture, two people of female appearance lying beneath each other on the floor lower body covered with blanket; a shaman crouches at the head of the one person and seems to talk to the person; the shaman places a plant on the person's stomach; on the left side of the picture another person holds a house made of plants for the spirit; a wooden doll lies on the floor; in the background many people watching; colorful cloth

“You never know when it comes to spirits,” the renowned Luangan shaman (belian) Kakah Ramat once told me. “You don’t know whether it is Bongai, Bansi or Tentuwaja who is guilty of causing an illness.” “That’s why you need to bring offerings to all of them,” he continued. While it may be particularly difficult to […]