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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 continue to ensure protection from these sibling spirits. Sometimes when people experience continuous difficulty in life, Balinese will seek out a shaman or channeler 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 a life cycle ceremony otonan of a Balinese for that this occasion to cleanse the body of any negative influence.
Weft ikat, single panel, rolled and sewn edge, commercial cotton, natural dyes. Tied and woven by Ni Ketut Turi, dyed by Ngurah Hendrawan, in Nusa Penida, Bali, 2021.
191 x 90 cm / 75 x 35 in