Bali, Indonesia, July, 1995
Exhumation / Inhalation

or : Catching a Whiff of Cremation
or : picnicking at an exhumation with the kids.

We stand in the bone yard and watch them dig up their
ancestors. The men take turns digging. Some do it
because it's their brother, father or mother down
there. Some do it for the coins they find in the eye
sockets of the dead.

When the shrouded corpse is unearthed, a frenzy of
yelling starts that is intended to ward off the evil
spirits. Then spirits are poured on the putrifying
corpse to deodorize it.

The men wash the flesh off the half-decomposed corpses.

The kids want an ice cream from the vendor at the grave
side. After the corpse is washed it is wrapped in cloth
and brought to the funeral pyre.

Twenty-six papier-mache bulls are waiting to be set
ablaze.Facsimiles of well-endowed bulls have been
constructed for the dead men, who will make up in the
afterlife for what they may have missed in their sex
life.

Women get a representation of a cow, complete with a
meticulously embroidered yoni.
intro (animated GIF)

Many cremations in Bali these days are purely symbolic.
But these funerals use real corpses, and flame throwers
are needed to incinerate the decomposing material.

A mourner climbs up a palm tree next to a funeral pyre,
stringing a gasoline-filled oil drum to a fuel line
leading to the kindling. Twenty-six oil drums hung five
meters above the blaze ... Seemed like a good time to go
fetch lunch.

When we return with take-out from Nasi Campor, the pyres
are blazing. Men stand around smoking clove cigarettes and
poking the burning logs, or moving an arm into the
inferno, rolling a head onto the embers.

The smoke is thick. It fills our lungs, flavoring our
lunch. When we return to our rooftop home, we wash the
smoky film of dead fluids from our bodies.We all go to
sleep in the same bed, huddled together to feel each
other's warm flesh and pumping hearts.

YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW LONG THEY LEAVE THEM IN THE GROUND
BEFORE THEY DIG EM UP

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