Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 16, March 2008

The Regulation of Marriage and Sexuality
in Precolonial Balinese Law Codes

Helen Creese

  1. Until the advent of colonial rule in the closing decades of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, the administration of justice in Bali rested on a legal system that was fundamentally indigenous in character but which was, nevertheless, strongly imbued with direct textual influence from Sanskrit legal traditions, particularly the Laws of Manu (Manavadharmasastra).[2] These traditions, which had been brought to the Indonesian archipelago in the early centuries of the first millennium as part of the wider spread of Sanskrit thought and culture, were incorporated into juridical practices in the Hinduised polities that pertained in pre-Islamic Java until the fifteenth century and until the beginning of the twentieth century in Bali.[3] This legal system was supported by extensive law codes written in Old Javanese that remained in use in Bali until the colonial period. In ways that parallel other cultural, literary and intellectual developments in Indic Java and Bali, the extant Old Javanese legal texts were the end products of a centuries-long process of adaptation and localisation of a strong didactic, moralistic and legalistic tradition that sought to codify and regulate social relationships and practices. The treatment of the legal categories borrowed from Indian traditions thus provides considerable insight into the regulation of gender historically in the Indonesian Archipelago.
  2. As Barbara Watson Andaya notes in her recent groundbreaking study of gender in early modern Southeast Asia,[4] written law codes associated with early modern Southeast Asian states devote considerable attention to the regulation of sexuality and marriage. Andaya argues that the production of this corpus of legal documentation was one consequence of the coalescence of political and economic power that marked this period and that this concern for the regulation of sexuality in marriage coincided with the rise of the centralising states in the region because correct relationships between men and women were viewed as critical to the development of the settled household on which the states depended.[5] Even a cursory perusal of indigenous legal sources indicates that the regulation of sexual mores and of access to women in ways that best served the interests of the state was a primary concern in Bali as elsewhere in Southeast Asia. This essay examines how gendered social roles were codified in written law texts in use in Bali in the late nineteenth century. In keeping with the theme of this special issue, it explores the performance of gender and the notion of 'becoming' through discourse by investigating, in the specific historical context of nineteenth-century Bali, what indigenous legal texts have to say about the regulation of sexuality and the position of women in Balinese society.[6]

    The Sources
  3. The principal sources on which this essay is based are the Old Javanese legal codes that underpinned indigenous judicial processes and practices in Bali in the nineteenth century.[7] Most of the texts are known in multiple copies, and over one hundred individual manuscripts are recorded in the catalogues of the major manuscript collections.[8] The linguistic and textual universe to which the law codes belong is an extremely complex one, and the sources—typically undated, anonymous, written in a variety of languages and subject to ongoing textual change—thus present particular problems for historical research. Rather than being written in Balinese, the texts are written principally in the language of the inscriptions and literary works of pre-Islamic Java, that is in Old Javanese, as well as the closely related languages reserved for specific textual genres that combined elements of Old and Middle Javanese—collectively known in Bali as Kawi, 'the language of poets'— with literary or high Balinese. All of these languages have continued to function as living languages in Bali's heteroglossic linguistic environment until the present.[9] In the nineteenth century, too, those concerned with the administration of indigenous justice, priests and high officials, had facility in reading and interpreting the texts. Only with Dutch intervention were the Kawi texts translated into modern Balinese and Malay/Indonesian.
  4. The Old Javanese/Balinese law codes comprise overlapping compilations of regulations and penalties that reflect the development of Indic-influenced legal practices in pre-Islamic Java and in Bali over several centuries. The written law codes detail the penalties and fines for a number of criminal and civil offences relating to theft, pawn, contracts, assault, sorcery, falsehood, calumny, inheritance and debt bondage as well as to the matters most affecting the relationships between men and women to be discussed in detail here, namely bride price, abduction, sexual assault, adultery and divorce. At times, the regulations list different levels of fines or punishments according to the rank of the offender, thus indicating that the law texts were intended for all classes of society. Indigenous textual sources and nineteenth-century ethnographic accounts indicate that legal disputes were normally handled at the local village level in the first instance, with recourse to the higher authority of court or ruler reserved for unresolved or more complex matters. Only the king could apply the death penalty, but as was the case elsewhere in Southeast Asia,[10] even when the death penalty theoretically applied, many regulations included a clause allowing the commutation of the sentence to a monetary penalty.
  5. The Balinese law codes provide only a partial account of judicial practices and concerns. They largely comprise terse descriptions of offences and appropriate penalties, and just as Andaya has noted for legal texts more generally throughout the region,[11] they do not describe how the law actually functioned, nor do they document specific legal cases. There is, in fact, no reason why they should deal with procedural details, for such matters were properly the domain of both other textual genres and the established practices of Balinese governance. The recording of judgments, depositions, notes and written evidence on the fragile medium of palm leaves, coupled with European practices of textual collection which saw such texts as inconsequential, has meant that such ephemera have long since vanished.[12] It does not mean, however, that they never existed.
  6. Although we cannot be certain of the extent to which the regulations found in the law codes were applied in practice, it would certainly be misleading to represent them merely as idealised constructions of little relevance to the practice of the law. There are a number of indications that the law codes were essentially practical in nature. The regulations in them are not grouped systematically by topic, and crimes and penalties can be found scattered throughout the texts; there is also considerable repetition of transgressions and punishments. Thus, the law codes are not always internally consistent and there is considerable variation in detail between the texts. Nevertheless, all deal with the same kinds of offences in broadly similar ways. Variation and inconsistency in the texts may be the result of the accretion of regulations prompted by particular 'cases' over a period of several centuries in response to changing local contexts. Such a view of the texts is consistent with Balinese textual practices where textual boundaries were rarely fixed, but open to revision and reworking. In addition, apparent contradictions within and between texts suggest that, as was the case with Indian legal thought more generally, law codes were not prescriptive and often comprised a statement of principle and exceptions to or variations on it.[13]
  7. The ongoing use of the law codes as practical manuals from at least the twelfth century in Java and until the late nineteenth century in Bali is also indicated by the fact that the currencies in which fines are expressed and the value of the fines and punishments change over time, with textual traces of earlier formations evident in a number of law codes.[14] Finally, the kinds of offences and penalties detailed in the law codes, and the use of these texts as reference manuals in indigenous judicial practices, are also attested in nineteenth-century European sources. Internal textual evidence and extra-textual information attached to individual manuscripts similarly attest that, although the extant manuscript copies are late nineteenth-century Balinese exemplars, versions of these texts had been in use in Bali for several centuries. Nevertheless, because they are only available to us in comparatively recent versions dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they provide reliable evidence of actual practices only in that period.[15]
  8. Remarkable continuities can be traced back from these nineteenth-century Balinese law codes directly to the principal premodern Indian legal authority, the Laws of Manu, which became the dominant Hindu legal code throughout the Sanskritised world between the third and fifth centuries CE, a period that coincided with the spread of Sanskrit culture throughout India and Southeast Asia.[16] All the Old Javanese legal texts contain at least some Sanskrit legal terminology and most incorporate Sanskrit verses (slokas) with accompanying Old Javanese or Balinese exegesis; some regulations are direct translations of the original Sanskrit text. The Laws of Manu is specifically cited as a legal authority in the Old Javanese law texts, as well as in inscriptions and literary works from Java and Bali from at least the twelfth century onwards. A second major legal authority is the Kutarasastra, a work unknown in Indian tradition, but which in the Old Javanese legal texts is attributed to the sage Breghu, Manu's disciple, who proclaims his master's laws in the Sanskrit original.
  9. Just as in mainland Southeast Asia, Manu's code provided a direct model for legal codification in Southeast Asian countries, particularly Burma, Thailand and the Indonesian Archipelago.[17] Manu deals with every conceivable nuance of social relationships and governance, but only a fraction of the 2685 verses that make up the entire work appear to have been considered relevant to the administration of justice in Java and Bali, namely the sections dealing with the eighteen grounds for litigation (astadasawyawahara) found in Manu chapters 8 and 9.[18] While most other aspects of Sanskrit thought reflected in the Laws of Manu were also well known in Java and Bali, such matters were incorporated into different genres, particularly the philosophical, religious and didactic texts as well as literary epics in prose and poetry. The law codes, with their interest in transgressions and penalties, thus comprise a distinct genre in Old Javanese literature.
  10. In the following discussion, I have drawn on four principal law codes, choosing, for convenience, those that are most readily accessible in translation to contemporary readers of English, Indonesian and Dutch. The legal texts used here are the Kutara Manawa (KM),[19] the Agama (A),[20] the Adhigama (Adhig)[21] and the Dewagama (or Kretopapati), which is available in translation as two separate volumes named Purwa Agama (PA) and Kutara Agama (KA) respectively.[22]
  11. Although these texts were made available in published versions in the early twentieth century after colonial rule was well established in Bali and thus may have been subject to Dutch interference and reorganisation of indigenous material, that does not appear to have been the case. Instead, these published versions are, in my view, relatively reliable translations from Old Javanese (Kawi) into modern Balinese and Malay, and can, therefore, be considered as products of indigenous textual and juridical practices.[23] Although there had been a Dutch presence in north Bali from the mid nineteenth century, full colonial administration dates only from 1908. The original Old Javanese texts on which this essay is based thus predate systematic European interference. The seemingly ad hoc arrangement of the law codes was seen by Dutch colonial officials as evidence of chaotic, arbitrary and despotic 'native' justice. They assumed—and sought to remedy as quickly as possible—what they perceived as the enormous gulf between written law and actual legal practice, that is between the customary law of the traditional village, whether in written or oral form, and the written law codes of the court-based elite. Strong colonial interest in adat (customary) law, in any case, meant that Dutch officials showed little interest in the texts themselves which they considered to belong to an outmoded legal system long overdue for reform.[24] Partly because of Bali's late entry into the colonial empire, the texts, instead, appear to have emerged from this period of energetic colonial-driven law-making and reform relatively unscathed.

    Regulating Social Relationships
  12. In spite of their obvious reliance on Sanskrit models, Balinese (and earlier pre-Islamic Javanese) juridical practices were not, and could never be, those of India. Instead, in the law codes, indigenous elements predominate, and act as a powerful mitigating force on what was adopted and what was not. There is clear evidence of these processes at work in the treatment by the Old Javanese compilers of the legal texts of the regulations dealing with marriage and sexuality found in the Laws of Manu. Chapter 8, which deals with the first fifteen of the eighteen grounds for litigation (astadasawyawahara), was translated, or better paraphrased, in its entirety into Old Javanese and survives as a distinct law code known as the Swarajambu.[25] This code, striking in its unusual treatment of a source text in its entirety, may even have been the original source of all regulations derived from Manu chapter 8 that were incorporated into other Old Javanese law codes. In the case of grounds for litigation 16 and 17, which are covered in Manu chapter 9.1–220, however, that is in the sections dealing with marriage and inheritance respectively, there are only broad structural commonalities and few direct matches in content or wording with verses in the Sanskrit original. One feasible explanation for this looser correspondence is that gender relations and inheritance were areas where the social practices and strictures of Brahmanic Hinduism differed so markedly from those in the Indonesian Archipelago that direct adoption was inappropriate.
  13. Because the regulation of sexuality is so dominant in the law texts, they provide a rich, and hitherto untapped, source for considering the position of women in precolonial Bali. In the discussion that follows, I have grouped the regulations pertaining to marriage and sexuality under a number of headings, although it should be noted that this kind of ordering is not characteristic of the Balinese texts in which regulations of different kinds are juxtaposed somewhat randomly.
  14. Perhaps the most striking feature of the regulations dealing with marriage and access to women is their transactional nature. As Andaya notes for Southeast Asia as a whole, the attention indigenous governments paid to the regulation of sexuality was intended to deal with the possibility of disputes over the reallocation of property and the subsequent threats to social order and harmony that a breakdown in the negotiations might entail.[26] Marriage contracts were therefore treated like any other form of contract in the Old Javanese law codes with set penalties for breaches if the 'goods' were not delivered or were faulty or deficient in some way. In contrast to Indian practice—or at least to the practices of Brahmanic Hinduism enshrined formally in Sanskrit legal codes since India too was characterised by local variation and interpretation—compensation was generally paid to the aggrieved party rather than to the state. Violations of caste and incest taboos, however, characteristically required royal intervention, and the penalties attached to these forbidden unions took the form of fines paid to the king rather than to the individuals directly affected, suggesting, as Andaya has done for Southeast Asia more widely, that such transgressions were considered to be pertinent to the wellbeing of the state and their contravention likely to bring disaster to society as a whole.[27]
  15. The fines detailed in the law codes were well beyond the means of ordinary Balinese and ensured that many would be required to enter into debt-bondage for long periods of time and, consequently, were at risk of being sold into slavery.[28] In the nineteenth century, the typical bride price, as well as the fine for unauthorised sexual relations, was 20,000 units of cash. The cash equivalent of commuting a sentence of capital punishment was 40,000 cash. This sum appears to have been considered the value of a human life and was approximately equivalent to the price of a male slave in the early decades of the nineteenth century.[29]

    Marriage Partners and Forbidden Relationships
  16. In Balinese society, as elsewhere in the region, marriage was the norm and marked the entry of the individual to adult status. The legal codes provide information concerning the appropriate groups from which a spouse could be selected. There are, however, relatively few regulations that invoke caste directly, perhaps because, in marriage negotiations, caste issues were likely to have been settled long before the contractual arrangements that are the main concern of the law texts were set in place.[30]
  17. The general prohibition against marriage with close family members and one's teachers, familiar from Indian Hinduism, is reflected in the legal texts. Such forbidden marriages included marriage to one's younger sister, nieces, cousins, the children of one's mother and father, father's widow, widow and children of one's teacher (A316), with the widows living in a man's house-yard (KM198), or with a man's step-daughter (KM199). Levirate and sororate marriages are mentioned only once each. According to these regulations if the husband-to-be died, his younger brother could marry his bride (KM 215); while if the girl died the prospective bridegroom could, with her father's permission, then marry her younger sister (KM112). Both forms of marriage are known to have been practised in Java and Bali.[31] Although Manu 11.172–73 prohibits cousin marriage, the Balinese law codes are silent on this issue. In Bali, as elsewhere in the Indonesian Archipelago, however, cousin marriage was commonly practised and is referred to in Balinese inscriptions dating from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, in which the degrees of relationship relating to first [misan] and second degree [mindon] cousins are expressed in indigenous terms.[32]
  18. From India, Balinese society had adopted the principle of four social classes or castes, the brahmana (priestly), ksatriya (ruling) and wesya (merchant) castes, known collectively as the triwangsa and comprising only about ten percent of the population, and the low caste sudra, comprising the majority of ordinary peasants and traders. The rigid, stratified caste system of India, however, was never adopted in the Indonesian Archipelago. The ideal was marriage between members of the same caste. If a man took a woman and they were of the same caste, there was no case to answer and they were allowed to become husband and wife after he had paid the bride price (KA101). Moreover, if a triwangsa woman gave herself freely to a man of the same caste, he committed no offence and, if the father agreed, the man could then pay the bride price so that they could be married (KA26).
  19. Hypergamy was recognised as valid. Thus, if a high caste man was approached by a lower caste woman, he committed no offence and only had to pay costs of 8,000 plus 2,000 in compensation to the parents (KA100). Inappropriate marriage [salah karma], or hypogamy, that is a woman of higher caste marrying or lying with a man from a lower caste, was more severely punished by the king. According to one regulation, which arguably reflects Indian norms since physical punishments of this nature do not seem to have been practised in Bali, if the offender was a high official (mantri), he was castrated and salt rubbed on his wounds; if a brahmana, he had to be exiled to a distant land (A323).[33] Other regulations, however, allowed even hypogamous and other prohibited unions to be negotiated, although in such cases the level of the fine was twice the usual rate. A propitiatory marriage tax (papan walagara), differentiated by the social class of the woman concerned, allowed marriage with servants, the daughter of a brahmana, concubines and female ascetics (KM191). If a man of lower caste, who had had previously been rejected as a son-in-law by a woman's parents, was approached by her from her own desire, the king was obliged to separate them and to order the man to be executed; if his life was spared, a fine of 80,000 was levied. If the parents wanted him to be their son-in-law, he could then 'buy' the girl with 40,000 plus 8,000 in costs to the parents (KM251; KA102).[34]
  20. Rather than being concerned with caste and degrees of relationship, however, the law codes focus mainly on women 'prohibited' to others, the luh larangan ('forbidden women'), a term already attested in fourteenth-century Balinese inscriptions.[35] In the category of sexual crimes against women, the fifteenth of the eighteen grounds for litigation, Manu's code (8.352–85) similarly distinguishes 'guarded' women from 'unguarded' women. While many of these regulations dealing with sexualised violence against women can be traced to the broad categories of offences described in the Sanskrit text, most also show strong evidence of localisation. Three categories of luh larangan are defined in the Old Javanese law codes: betrothed and/or married women (A325; PA92), women in debt bondage (KM12, 155, 158) and women belonging to the royal household (KM168). Girls [luh daa] were not included in the category of luh larangan, presumably because their interests, or rather those of their male guardians, were adequately protected by formal marriage negotiations such as the payment of the bride price, and the various penalties for elopements/abductions to be discussed below. The ultimate penalty of death applied to any who married a luh larangan (A325).
  21. While both men and women were subject to debt slavery, which was commonly practised throughout Southeast Asia, including in Bali, the Old Javanese/Balinese law codes indicate that the experience of debt bondage was gendered differently for men and women. Sexual relationships were prohibited between bonded men and women, and only triwangsa were permitted to have intercourse with their servants; low-caste (sudra) men could not (PA85). For women, however, sexual relationships with their masters or other high officials could provide a means of remitting a debt. If a master married a female servant in front of witnesses, the debt was deemed to have been paid (A328). Force was universally regarded as wrong, regardless of status. Abducting a bonded female and having intercourse with her, attracted a 40,000 fine (PA36); if a master had forced intercourse with his bonded woman, he relinquished the security (PA84); and if a bonded woman entered a man's house to pay her debt and he forced her and she called out, the fine was equal to the sum of her debt (KA42). One regulation (KA160), reflecting similar sanctions to those just noted, but with a class dimension since no additional penalty attaches to the perpetrator if he is a triwangsa, notes that if a triwangsa slept with a bonded female servant who was still a virgin her debt was cancelled; if she was a willing partner, the debt was deemed to be the bride price and the couple were considered to have entered a marriage contract; but if it was forced intercourse, she was then able to return home to her parents, free of the obligation of further debt service.
  22. Unauthorised access to female members of the royal household attracted the harshest penalties. All members of the royal household—minor wives, bonded servants, concubines, slaves—were forbidden to others. Regardless of whether the man was aware of the status of the woman, if she had already been taken into the inner court (and presumably entered into a sexual relationship with the king) then the crime, known as 'stepping on the (royal) pillow' (melangkahi kajang sirah), attracted the death penalty; in most other cases the payment of appropriate compensation could reduce the severity of the punishment and allow the lovers to marry (KA12, KM168, KM241).

    Marriage, Betrothal and Bride Price
  23. The Old Javanese/Balinese law codes support the evidence from literary and other sources that two forms of marriage were commonly practised: arranged marriage (mapadik) and marriage by abduction (mlegandang) and/or elopement (ngrorod).[36]
  24. Arranging a marriage was the prerogative of the girl's father. He had the power to disown his daughter and to annul the marriage if her mother had arranged it without his consent; the mother would then be liable for the repayment of the bride price (KM193). Once contracted, the union was binding on all parties, although, in the interests of harmonious community relations, various exemptions allowed for the contract to be terminated on payment of appropriate compensation. Set out in considerable detail in the Balinese legal texts are the conditions relating to the payment (and repayment) of the bride price (tukon).[37] The party who initiated the cancellation of the contract was required to pay compensation and breaches of the marriage agreement generally required repayment of twice the original value of the tukon. Even if the bride price had not yet been paid, the girl was deemed to belong to her husband's family and, if she was subsequently betrothed to another, then the new fiancé was liable for a fine (PA50, PA51). A degree of prudence was also evidently necessary since one regulation warns that if a young man asked for a girl's hand in marriage and she refused but he still sent the betrothal gift (pamadikan), he forfeited it (KA167).
  25. Certain regulations deal with separation that took place before the union could be formally ratified with marriage rituals. For example, if after five months the marriage had not taken place because of procrastination on the part of the groom, the tukon was forfeited (KM214). If the young couple simply changed their minds, appropriate compensation was due (A341, KA25); if the girl changed her mind and married someone else, she had to repay twice the tukon and her parents were fined 40,000 cash (KM18, A339). In such circumstances the newly married couple could also be fined 40,000 cash (KM111); or if a woman was engaged and accepted another man, she was required to repay several times the value of the betrothal gift; if she did not repay it, she could be executed, although if both the man and the woman pleaded for their lives, a penalty of 40,000 could instead be levied (KA74). Inadvertent breaches of contract appear to have been treated less harshly. If the girl died before the marriage could take place, her parents were allowed to retain the tukon (KM112). On the other hand, if the young man had paid the panglamar and later died, it had to be returned to his family (A304, KA 27).
  26. Preempting the wedding night was also a transactional rather than a moral offence and was treated in a similar way to elopement or abduction. If the prospective groom slept with the girl before the marriage, he forfeited the tukon and was fined 40,000 cash (KM192); or if the man forced his intended bride to have intercourse with him before the formal marriage ceremonies, the arrangement was void and he was fined (KA73). Elsewhere, the customary let-out clause meant that if the couple still wanted to be with each other, the man could simply offer another betrothal gift and pay compensation to enable the marriage to go ahead (PA78).

    Abduction and Elopement
  27. The Balinese law codes devote particular attention to abduction and elopement, suggesting that forced or mock abduction must have represented a serious threat to community relations and required close regulation to ensure that social relations remained harmonious and marriages could subsequently be formalised. Elopement, with its inherent romance and drama, was the form of marriage most favoured by poets who drew on their own societal norms. It is still practised in contemporary Bali. Although acknowledged among the eight recognised forms of marriage in the Indian dharmasastras (Manu 3.20–35), abduction and elopement are not otherwise considered in the Laws of Manu so that the focus in the Old Javanese texts on their regulation is a clear example of Balinese localisation. Elopement was a means of circumventing the complex and often expensive formalities associated with arranged betrothals, although the law codes indicate that this way of winning a bride resulted in both additional compensation payments as well as the usual bride price, so mercenary considerations are unlikely to have been paramount.[38] Abduction marriage is referred to only in passing in the Kutaramanawa (KM14), but the Dewagama notes that six of the eight violent (dusta) crimes involve abduction of women (KA49), and later defines abduction (walatkara) as seizing a woman in the sawah, ladang, gardens, forests, fields, bathing place, highway, road or market (KA123). The Dewagama (PA34) details twenty fine gradations of abduction each with its own (Balinese) name (see Table 1).[39] The Adhigama provides two similar lists that overlap with each other and with the list in the Dewagama.[40] According to these listings, the crimes of abduction and elopement, each attracting a substantial fine of 40,000 cash in the Dewagama (but only 24,000 in the Adhigama), encompassed a variety of forms as detailed in Table 1.

    amalat to take a woman by force in front of her family
    amelegandang to take a woman by force on the road
    amurugul to take a woman while she is bathing
    amerukunung to take a woman while she is urinating (Adhig: bathing)
    amarekeneng to take a woman while she is being deloused (Adhig: defecating)
    amunguntul to take a woman in the sawah
    amaraga to take a woman in the ladang
    amegati apus to take a woman who is already betrothed
    anjerek to take a woman while she is sleeping
    angrewek to take a woman during a night-long vigil
    angayub to take a woman at an entertainment
    angerangkat to elope with a forbidden woman (luh larangan)
    atatawan to elope with a virgin (luh daa)
    angiser to take a woman while she is defecating (Adhig: sad)
    angiwat to abduct and sell a woman
    ambaud anggris to abduct a wife after killing the husband
    amarejo to take a woman from the pavilion in her yard
    angiteli to take a woman from her bed
    amemengin to take a woman while she is walking for pleasure
    amilurut to take a woman in the morning

    Table 1. Abduction in Balinese law codes
  28. Avenging family honour in the case of abduction or elopement was paramount for restoring amicable community relations. As evidenced elsewhere in Southeast Asia, in Bali an offender could be killed by those he had wronged. A number of regulations relating to abduction and elopement reflect this local practice but most also stipulate a limitation on this kind of rough justice, noting, for example, that if the abductor was caught in the act, the father of the girl had the right to kill him, but if he did not find him until the following day, he was no longer permitted to kill him (KM140). An early observer of Balinese society, Pierre Dubois, the first Dutch agent in Bali who lived at Kuta from 1828 to 1831, describes the reality of, and prevalence of, this form of resolution in the Balinese judicial system.[41] Those who acted as accomplices or intermediaries in elopement or abduction could also be fined (KM14, KM140, KA171, A363). Usually abducting or eloping with a maiden required the payment of a fine to the father, and sometimes to the ruler (KM141); in the case of a bonded woman or slave, the perpetrator faced the death penalty (KM157).
  29. One elaborate case of abduction is recorded in unusual detail (A362), perhaps in response to a particular event. At the very least this regulation encapsulates the dangers inherent in couples following their desires by eloping:

      A woman is carried off to a distant place by a non-triwangsa man and later they quarrel because she will not do his bidding and she flees from him and seeks help from another man of her acquaintance in that village who agrees to escort her home for a fee and during the night they have sexual intercourse. When they arrive at the girl's home and he asks for payment, she asks him why he should be paid since he has known her body. If he acknowledges this act, the girl wins the case and the man is defeated; it is called mapanji sarira in the law code. But actually it is not proper for a woman to journey at night with another man or a man with a woman at night. It is called 'thatch near a flame' (duk asanding apuy)—how can they not be scorched.

    Annulment and Divorce
  30. After the marriage had taken place, there were a number of ways in which the union could be terminated on payment of appropriate compensation. If the girl decided she did not like her new husband, she could simply refuse to consummate the union, known as 'rejecting intercourse' (amadal sanggama) and, after returning twice the tukon, was free to marry again (KM19, KM126). Another regulation mentions that the girl had to wait for one year before taking the step known as 'rejecting the marriage bed' (amancal turon) (KM257). If the girl's parents did not like their son-in-law they too could force a separation on payment of twice the tukon and the return of all other gifts (KM125). Annulment was considered appropriate if the groom proved to be defective in some way, such as diseased, insane or impotent; the marriage could then be dissolved by returning the tukon (KM113).[42] Another article specifies a waiting period of three years before the girl could remarry (KM256). The Agama gives specific directions to the woman in the case of what it terms 'waiting for the dry branch to shoot' (anganti semi ning pang aking), noting that:

      If a woman marries an impotent man they should lie together two or three times to arouse his desire; if nothing happens they should wait for three days, one month, one year, she should advise her husband to seek medicines and try again. If still nothing happens the woman may find another man and the bride price need not be returned to the impotent man (A276).

  31. Impotence clearly rendered the marriage void. In Manu, any sexual relationships between a woman and a sexually dysfunctional man (kliba) were considered inappropriate. The Sanskrit term kliba (Old Javanese kliwa) covers a range of sexual categories besides impotence and includes homosexuality, transvestitism and someone with mutilated genitals, but broader definition does not appear to have been adapted into the Old Javanese law codes. Two consecutive regulations in the Kutaramanawa however, deal with offences by a kedi—a term synonymous with kliwa with the basic meaning of 'eunuch'.[43] The first regulation notes that a kedi, who married a woman who already had a husband, even if both parties agreed, was sentenced to death by the king and his crime was broadcast publicly (KM176); while a kedi who stole or committed an atatayi crime (that is arson, poisoning, sorcery, running amuck, slandering the ruler and forcing a woman) and whose case was proven, was sentenced to death by the king (KM177).[44] While these two regulations indicate that kedi represented a distinct category of court official, whose exact function is not known, there is no evidence to suggest that the Sanskrit definition of sexual dysfunction which incorporated homosexuality was adapted into the Old Javanese legal texts. The crimes and penalties committed by the kedi are simply those that applied to malefactors from other groups in society.
  32. In the case of abandonment, either before or after the formal celebration of the marriage, the legal texts make it clear that the man was obliged to return the betrothal payment. If he decided to go into the forest to perform asceticism or to go away to seek his fortune, his wife was entitled to keep the tukon, whether or not the young man ever returned (KM213). The length of waiting periods before a girl could remarry was also specified, varying from three to ten years depending on the purpose of the absence (KM143, KM254, KM255).[45]
  33. Divorce, often described as characteristically easy to obtain in Southeast Asia, is only touched on in Balinese legal texts.[46] One regulation (KM5, Adhig53) establishes the procedures for divorce, noting that four proofs (cihna) are required, namely a witness, the breaking of a coin while reciting mantras, the sipping of ritual water and a gift of unhusked rice grains.[47] Divorce is usually mentioned only in the context of rights to property. Various regulations dealing with shared property and inheritance advised couples not to combine their wealth for a certain period of time, ranging from one to twelve years. Under such circumstances the following rules applied: if a couple divorced, the man received two parts of their common goods and the wife one part (KA103). If the wife initiated the divorce, the man received it all (PA101). After divorce, the man's ownership of his wife ceased and if a couple were divorced and a man pawned his former wife without her consent he faced the death penalty; if she had agreed to it, there was no case to answer (A361). A wife without children could take on a debt with her husband's knowledge and if she died he was liable for the debt (PA77). These provisions establish clearly the rights of women to own property in their own right.

    Seduction, Adultery, and Violence against Women
  34. In addition to attention to the contractual obligations of marriage as described above, the primary concern of the legal texts is the regulation of the sexual conduct of men and women more generally. A large number of regulations, grouped under the (Sanskrit) rubrics of seduction (strisanggraha) and adultery (paradara), detail precise penalties for those who transgress the boundaries of ownership and community in the conduct of sexual relationships. Unauthorised access to women and other acts of sexual aggression are dealt with in similar ways to offences against any form of property, and in the case of such transgressions, compensation is similarly paid directly to the owner of that 'property.' Woman are thus effectively 'owned' by male relatives or guardians and the texts speak specifically of sang madruwe, the one who 'has rights of ownership' over the woman (A287, A288, PA106). The same term, sang madruwe, is used to describe the dependent relationship of subjects to the ruler and the ruler's right to land and property. Any illicit sexual or financial relations obviously directly challenged ownership.
  35. The term sanggraha covers all crimes committed against a forbidden woman, a luh larangan. General acts of violence against women are noted in the law texts and the usual penalties of fines or compensation were imposed for transgressions of this nature, such as if a man seized hold of a luh larangan other than from lust (PA103) or if a man seized or pressed against a luh larangan because of anger or spoke to her improperly (PA105). Another regulation notes particularly that a man who spoke to a luh larangan honestly merely asking her a question did not violate proper conduct and there was therefore no penalty (PA108). In most cases, however, sexual intent is assumed.
  36. According to the Dewagama (PA90), a sanggraha crime was committed by any who ate or drank with a luh larangan, walked with a luh larangan, approached a luh larangan in her home, fought with a luh larangan or used the clothes of a luh larangan. Elsewhere it is described as an offence to talk with a luh larangan across a fence (PA91) or in a deserted place (KM133, PA107). Other sanggraha crimes included attacking with lustful intentions a woman out walking (KA33); joking with a woman in an isolated place on the road, the ladang or sawah (KA36); cajoling a woman and inviting her to the ladang or sawah (KA37); seizing a woman from lust or grabbing her selendang (shawl) while in an embrace (PA104); approaching a woman bathing or bathing next to a woman (A287, A289). Fines levied reflect a hierarchy of severity. Thus if a woman walked past a man who said 'How sweet that person smells' the fine was 10,000 (PA23); calling out to a woman and molesting her attracted a penalty of 20,000 (PA26); while seizing a young woman at kris-point, if she called out (PA27) or hitting or stabbing a woman with a kris but without wounding her, both cost 40,000 (PA28). Heavier fines were payable if she was sequestered (KM248) than if she was not (KM247), and the penalty was reduced if the offender was not aware the woman was married (KM249).
  37. Sexual aggression towards a luh larangan was punished in similar ways to abduction, with compensation being paid to the woman's husband or master and the opportunity for personal retribution limited to a period of one day. For example, if a man seized or embraced a woman and she resisted and called out and there were witnesses, the 'one who had ownership' of the woman could kill the offender at the time; if he was not killed then, he was fined 40,000 (PA106). If a man went to spy on a luh larangan bathing he could be killed but only on that same day; if he was not killed within that time, the fine was 5,000 to the husband. If he actually approached the woman he could be killed but again only on that same day; after that compensation was paid to the husband (A287).
  38. Most regulations protected the ownership rights of a husband or master over a woman. Compensation was paid to the husband, master or guardian of the woman in much the same way as reparation was required for the loss of other goods or livestock. In only three articles, all from the first section of the Dewagama, was compensation payable to the woman herself, namely if a girl (luh daa) was seized in a deserted place, (PA81); if a forbidden woman (luh larangan) was seized in a deserted place and her kamben (inner garment) was taken (PA82); or if a bonded girl (luh daa) was seized in a deserted place by a man who was also bonded, he had to pay her 4,000 (PA86). Elsewhere in the texts, however, regulations dealing with similar offences require payment to be made to the male guardian.
  39. Paradara or adultery is frequently cited (KM134, KM142, KM136, KM139, KM242, KM246). It is defined in the Dewagama (KA161) as knowingly violating a luh larangan. There is considerable overlap between sexual (paradara) crimes and transgressions that are incorporated into the sanggraha category of violence against women. Adulterous crimes included those of a man who socialised, ate and drank with another's wife or entered the bedroom of another's wife (A305); cursed, hit or kicked the wife of another (KA15); who made an offer of marriage to the wife or servant or another (KA51) or to the betrothed or wife of his lord (gusti) (KA8); who embraced another's wife or a girl, (PA25); who confessed desire for another's wife, (PA24); borrowed money from or paid a debt owed to another's wife when the latter was not at home and without his knowledge ( PA30); quarrelled with another man's wife, hit or cursed her (PA33, PA42); who raped another's wife (KM126, 128); raped the wife of another at kris-point (PA35) or who importuned the wife of another and chased her into her house, forcing her to open the door to him (PA17).
  40. Some indication of the relative weight given to offences perpetrated against women can be seen in the following regulation where adultery (paradara) attracts a smaller fine than more serious violent (dusta) or capital (atatayi) crimes or even than stealing agricultural tools:

      If someone seeks another's help and while in their house commits paradara, the fine is 4,000; if it is a dusta crime (namely, wounding someone who has done no wrong) 20,000 and for an atatayi crime (namely, burning a house, running amuck) 40,000 or for stealing agricultural tools 5,000 (KA16).

  41. There are a number of regulations dealing with sexuality in the final part of the Agama in which direct dependence on the Laws of Manu, chapter 8—probably via the Old Javanese law code Swarajambu—is evident. Unlike most of the other regulations already discussed, which are found with minor variations in a number of different law codes, the content of these regulations is singular. It is possible they may even have been included for their curiosity value in the original Old Javanese law codes at the time the Laws of Manu first made its way into the Indic courts of Java and Bali. The fines in each case are expressed in the Old Javanese monetary units (su, ma) that had been replaced by Chinese cash (picis/kepeng) by the mid fourteenth century.[48]

    These regulations are recorded consecutively in both the Agama and Swarajambu. The first of them is a regulation which contains the only reference I have found in which sexual activity between women is recorded. The article, which is a paraphrased translation of Manu 8.369–70, notes:

      If a woman touches the genitals of a maiden without reason, the fine is 8 pana = ma 10 = 4,000 and she must pay for the medicines; if she is betrothed the woman who assaults her must pay three times the bride price and her clitoris is sliced; if the woman is already married and seizes the genitals of a maiden, her vagina is cut and also two of her fingers cut off (A379; Swarajambu 42).[49]

  42. On homosexuality, the Balinese law codes otherwise remain strikingly silent. Non heterosexual relationships do not appear to have been a matter for legal regulation. In fact, the offence just described should probably be regarded as assault rather than as a sexual crime. Only one regulation touches directly on homosexuality, providing an alternative to the mandatory death penalty if a man lies with another man, an offence called badawasa; if his sentence is commuted to a fine it is paid to the man who has been taken in a sexual relationship because it is the same as adultery (paradara) (KA110).
  43. The second regulation found in the Agama and Swarajambu concerns adultery and details corporal punishments rarely found in Balinese law codes or in Balinese practice. It is a paraphrase of Manu 8.371–72:

      A woman of evil conduct paying attention to another even in front of her husband, because she has many relatives. She may be ordered by the king to be tied up and bitten by dogs in the graveyard, seen by all as an example not to behave like this. The man who asked her to sin must have his legs tied and be put in a big vat filled with water and the king must order the villagers to bring burning brands to boil the evil man (A312; Swarajambu 43).[50]

    No physical punishments of precisely this kind are recorded in the extensive ethnographic reports of nineteenth century Bali and the incorporation of this Indian-nuanced regulation in the Agama should probably be considered admonitory rather than a reflection of actual social practice.

    Conclusion: The Status of Women
  44. This analysis of nineteenth-century Old Javanese/Balinese law codes has highlighted that the lives of women intersected in many ways with the indigenous legal system through the regulation of social and sexual relationships in marriage. The Balinese legal texts provide evidence of female rights to the ownership of property and inheritance as well as a degree of autonomy in marriage arrangements and divorce and thus support Andaya's overarching conclusion in The Flaming Womb that attitudes towards women in Southeast Asia in the early modern period were generally favourable.[51] The regulations found in the law codes reflect the patriarchal, hierarchical and proprietary nature of Balinese society and provide clues to the problems that women may have faced in their social lives. They suggest that betrothal, marriage and divorce were contested spaces, since only those areas of the social order that caused problems in practice are likely to have become the subject of legal debate and codification.
  45. Many of the constraints on the lives of ordinary Balinese were based on class differentials rather than gender and were shared by all members of society, but their impact on women was arguably greater than on men since women were effectively powerless to order their own lives. The legal codes establish a hierarchy in which women were clearly subservient to men. Patriarchal norms meant that, even when a woman was wronged, it was the male guardian to whom compensation was due rather than to the woman who may have been abandoned or violated, or otherwise have suffered. At times, the texts are quite explicit that, in economic terms, women are half as valuable as men, and this status is reflected in a number of regulations. For example, if bonded servants were ill they were required to make up to their masters the time they had been unable to work: a man was valued at fifty kepeng a day, a woman at twenty-five kepeng a day (PA83). In some cases, their lower status could provide benefits to women in terms of the severity of the punishments incurred for particular offences. Thus, if a false accusation was made of an atatayi crime (defined in KA89 as arson, poison, sorcery, running amuk, slandering the ruler and forcing a woman), a man was fined 40,000 and a woman 20,000 cash (KA104); for a false accusation of theft or adultery, the penalty was 20,000 for a man, but for a woman 10,000 (KA105); while if a woman committed a crime such as stealing property, people or livestock, the punishment included restitution of the goods, but the fine was half that for a male thief; if she killed someone of the same caste, even if the victim was a man, she did not have to be punished with recompense of corpse expenses (KA71).
  46. Age and status hierarchies generally outweighed considerations of gender and thus married women were considered of greater 'value' than girls as is clear from a number of regulations that set out penalties according to whether offences were committed against luh larangan or luh daa. Married women were considered more valuable and the family owed twice the compensation levied for the same offence perpetrated against a girl. Examples include a fine of 10,000 cash for spitting on a woman belonging to another (PA20), for requesting something from another's woman because of a fondness for her (PA21), and for playing with a child as a pretext for holding hands with a woman belonging to another (PA54); whereas if the victim was unmarried, the fine was 5,000; taking wilted flowers discarded by a woman attracted differential fines of 6,000 and 3,000 cash respectively according to marital status (PA22).

    Historiographical Issues
  47. Any attempt to describe the roles and status of women on the basis of the Balinese law codes faces similar problems to those that impede the writing of women's history in Southeast Asia more generally. Here, too, there is a striking absence of women's voices and the records that do exist are overwhelmingly male. Although the use of these sources for describing the reality of social practices and understandings of gender is certainly not unproblematic, the historiographical pitfalls, which Andaya details, are arguably less acute for Bali than for some other areas of Southeast Asia. Among the problems Andaya cites for the wary treatment of indigenous Southeast Asian law texts are concerns that the textual sources do not meet the definition of what constitutes legal thought in Western scholarship; that they incorporate myths, stories and legends that are overtly 'irrational;' that they present ideals rather than examples of actual practice; and that many penalties remain theoretical.[52]
  48. Closer textual analysis of the Balinese material, however, suggests that there is little to indicate that the texts were merely idealised overviews, or that the crimes and penalties were theoretical. Formulaic certainly, but there is strong evidence for their use in judicial processes.[53] The essentially pragmatic nature of the regulations dealing with marriage and sexuality demonstrate this point clearly. The moralistic asides and cautionary tales, found in law texts from Malaysia and mainland Southeast Asia, have little part in the Balinese exemplars. Genre boundaries mean that the Old Javanese/Balinese legal texts are precisely that, practical statements of, or reflections on, legal practices. They may not have been used in the same way as Western civil and criminal legal codes, but they were far from the disordered, arbitrary chaos depicted by early colonial scholarship.
  49. The legal texts incorporate regulations, penalties and the citation of legal authorities that parallel in many ways the language, form and content of the copper-plate inscriptions dating from the ninth to fourteenth centuries, and the nineteenth-century royal edicts, some dated with precision, that were collected by the Dutch—sources that on the whole have been accepted as historically reliable.[54] Corroborating evidence from a range of sources suggests that, in spite of interaction with the Dutch colonial administrative system from the mid nineteenth century in North Bali and from the early twentieth century in the south, the legal codes, which were largely collected and recorded by colonial officials during that period, are not unduly 'contaminated' by European reorganisation and reworking of indigenous law.
  50. Nevertheless, because the beginning of the early modern period marks the limits of the extant manuscript textual record, and even surviving texts are either copies of earlier manuscripts or compilations of a number of source texts, uncovering 'original' versions, and matching them with any degree of historical specificity to actual legal cases, is extremely difficult. Nor is it possible to resolve the dilemma that has preoccupied historians of Southeast Asia, long concerned with the search for an autonomous history, namely how to separate indigenous elements from non-indigenous borrowings, whether from India in the early centuries of the Common Era or from Europe a thousand years or more later. In the case of the Old Javanese/Balinese law codes, an additional factor is the more than one thousand years of cultural and historical interaction with Java. The details and extent of such a long textual tradition are irrecoverable. In spite of the long-standing and rarely contested view that pre-Islamic Java's Indic textual and cultural traditions were exported to Bali and preserved there, we cannot be certain that this cultural borrowing operated only in one direction, nor that Sanskrit traditions found in Bali were always mediated through Java. There is evidence of independent Balinese contact with Indian culture at the beginning of the Common Era and long periods in the intervening centuries when Bali was independent of Javanese hegemony. Moreover, the sheer extent and richness of the Balinese textual record throws considerable doubt on the probability of monolithic Javanese cultural hegemony.
  51. The process of cultural adaptation in any case soon renders such distinctions about origins irrelevant to actual social and juridical practice. Even where we find parallels in Balinese sources with Indian, or Javanese, or European traditions, this is not a reason in itself to dismiss them as invalid or as mere textual traces of 'foreign' practices, though such influences cannot, of course, be entirely ruled out, as I have noted at different points in the discussion above. Copying and preserving manuscripts on palm leaves over several centuries was far too costly and onerous a task for 'untruths' to be recorded. Whether practical or merely exemplary, each regulation preserved must have resonated at some time with a living Balinese in the course of reflecting on or acting on legal matters. There is, besides, little in the legal texts that conflicts with either the ethnographic data of nineteenth-century visitors to the island or with the oral traditions of Balinese customary law (adat) so meticulously collected and documented by early twentieth-century Dutch legal experts.
  52. On balance then, as I have done elsewhere, my instinct is simply to 'trust' those texts to which we do have access, to focus principally on manuscript sources for which the chronological limits (or at least a terminus ante quem) can be fixed with some certainty in order to avoid (over-)conflating the late nineteenth-century textual record with earlier and later periods or with twentieth-century colonial scholarship. The texts on which I have drawn here were all in circulation in Bali in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. As such, they provide us with a reliable snapshot of what was considered of significance only at that time. Nevertheless, without wishing in any way to argue for a kind of static cultural continuum, studies of Old Javanese and Balinese cultural and literary history leave little doubt that, at least in terms of the indigenous textual record, there is more continuity than change, and much of what is recorded in the texts can be assumed to have pertained for much of the precolonial period. This should not surprise us unduly, for the essentially conservative nature of religious, moral and judicial teachings is a characteristic of all world religions and of most pre-industrial societies.
  53. The antiquity, longevity and relatively extensive scope of Bali's textual records, however, suggest that different processes may have been at work in Bali's literate culture than in other parts of Southeast Asia where the spread of the major world religions of Islam and Christianity brought not only new forms of knowledge but also new forms of literacy. Drawing on William Cummings' concept of the 'codification of culture' in early modern Makassar, Andaya has argued that the legal texts of Southeast Asia were developed as a result of the increasing interest in the regulation of personal relationships.[55] The antiquity of Old Javanese/Balinese written traditions suggests that the interest in the regulation of sexuality and marriage in Bali was not something that gained impetus from the rise of more centralised states. While it may be possible to recognise evolving court systems and the expanding textualisation of the law in non-literate polities in Southeast Asia,[56] in the Balinese case at least, written law codes predate by several centuries the political consolidation that marks the early modern period. Formal judicial processes appear to be similarly of long standing. The Balinese material points to the need for further research to find alternative explanations to the intersection between political centralisation and legal documentation posited for other parts of the Southeast Asian region. Nevertheless, in support of Andaya's observation more generally, there is evidence of the expanding textualisation of Old Javanese law codes and judicial practices in an earlier period of political centralisation, in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries when the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit began to consolidate its territorial and hegemonic reach.
  54. As Andaya cautions, 'contextualized particularities will always temper the applicability of translocal generalizations.'[57] By shifting the focus from the broader, comparative considerations of her study back to a narrower local perspective, however, the Balinese case-study discussed here thus both tests (and validates) and extends Andaya's arguments. Bali is the only region in Southeast Asia where Brahmanic Hinduism remained the dominant cultural and religious force into the early modern period and therefore provides rich data for examining the localisation of Indic traditions. I have only been able to touch on these issues here. Nevertheless, this essay has provided an opportunity to take up Andaya's invitation 'to continue the conversation' about our understandings of the roles of women in the region.[58] As her own recent survey of the state of the field makes clear, we are starting to make progress, not only with the publication of The Flaming Womb, which brings a much needed comparative perspective to the premodern period, but also with the increasing number of case studies dealing with Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. Much of this recent work has made imaginative use of multidisciplinary approaches and has drawn on a range of under-utilised literary and other sources.[59] It is thanks to that work that it has been possible to read the Balinese materials presented here in a wider comparative framework than was possible even a few years ago.


    [1] An initial version of this essay was presented at the ICAS 4 Conference in Shanghai in 2005. The ideas presented here had a second airing at the Performance and Text: Gender Identities in the East and Southeast Asian Context workshop held at the University of Queensland in July 2006. I am grateful to colleagues who provided feedback in those fora and to two anonymous Intersections readers.

    [2] There are two recent English translations of the Sanskrit text, both with excellent introductions. See Wendy Doniger, The Laws of Manu, London: Penguin, 1991, and Patrick Olivelle, The Law Code of Manu: A New Translation Based on the Critical Edition, New York: Oxford, 2004.

    [3] For the discussion of the spread of the Sanskrit ecumene throughout India and Southeast Asia, see Sheldon Pollock, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2006.

    [4] Barbara Watson Andaya, The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia, Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 2006.

    [5] Andaya, Flaming Womb, chapter 5, 'States, subjects, and households,' pp. 134–64. For the major arguments on the rise of centralist states, see Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce: The Land Below the Winds 1450–1680, vol. 1, New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 1988, pp. 208–14.

    [6] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York and London: Routledge, 1990.

    [7] The present essay is one of a series of three articles on legal traditions in precolonial Bali. For reasons of space, it is not possible to present here detailed arguments concerning the origin and developments of the Old Javanese–Balinese legal system or to discuss individual legal texts comprehensively, but I have dealt with the use of legal texts in judicial practices and intertextual relationships respectively in Helen Creese, 'Judicial processes and legal authority in precolonial Bali,' forthcoming Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde and Helen Creese, 'Old Javanese legal traditions in precolonial Bali,' unpublished paper, 2007.

    [8] The Dutch collections are documented in Th. Pigeaud, Literature of Java: Catalogue Raisonné of Javanese Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Leiden and Other Public Collections in the Netherlands, 3 vols, The Hague: Nijhoff. 1967–70. The Balinese collections to 1980 are described in Th. Pigeaud, Supplement to Literature of Java, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 1980; see also Helen Creese, Guide and Index to the Hooykaas-Ketut Sangka Balinese Manuscript Collection in the Australian National University Library, 2004, online:, site accessed 15 January 2008.

    [9] For an overview, see Raechelle Rubinstein, Beyond the Realm of the Senses: The Balinese Ritual of Kakawin Composition, Leiden, KITLV Press, 2000, pp. 9, 15–38.

    [10] Andaya, Flaming Womb, p. 160.

    [11] Andaya, Flaming Womb, p. 159.

    [12] Examples of case records are incorporated into the appendices in P.L. van Bloemen Waanders, 'Aanteekeningen omtrent de zeden en gebruiken der Balinezen inzonderheid die van Boeleleng,' Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde vol. 8 (1859):105–279. I discuss court procedures and trials in Creese, 'Judicial processes.'

    [13] See Doniger, Manu, pp. xlvii–viii, liv–lv.

    [14] In the nineteenth-century manuscripts, fines are mostly calculated in units of cash, comprising Chinese coins (kepeng), although vestiges of earlier forms of indigenous currency, cited in Javanese and Balinese inscriptions until the late fourteenth century—suwarna (su), masaka (ma) kupang (ku)—are also found scattered throughout the texts. In some texts, such as the Swarajambu, there are even occasional references to the Indian pana carried over from the original Sanskrit text.

    [15] I have dealt in detail with this textual history in Creese, 'Old Javanese legal traditions.'

    [16] Olivelle, Manu, p. xvi; see also Sheldon Pollock, 'The Sanskrit cosmopolis, 300–1300: transculturation, vernacularization and the question of ideology,' in Ideology and the Status of Sanskrit: Contributions to the History of the Sanskrit Language, ed. Jan E.M. Houben, Leiden: Brill, 1996, pp. 197–247 which provides a succinct account of the major arguments developed and extended in Pollock, Language of the Gods.

    [17] There are obvious similarities, and a number of interesting differences, between the Balinese materials discussed here and those found in mainland Southeast Asia. In spite of the linguistic and source-based problems inherent in the task (see Andaya, Flaming Womb, chapter 2), a detailed comparative study of the influence of Manu on the law codes of the region would undoubtedly shed much light on the development of Southeast Asian legal traditions more generally. But such a discussion is beyond the scope of this essay. Two highly relevant studies are Maung Maung, Law and Custom in Burma and the Burmese Family, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1963; Nai Pan Hla and Ryuji Okudaira, Eleven Mon Dhammasat Texts, Tokyo: Center for East Asian Cultural Studies for UNESCO, 1992.

    [18] The same section of the Laws of Manu appears to have been the major source of Brahmanical Hindu elements in the indigenous law codes of mainland Southeast Asia. See, for example, Maung Maung, Law and Custom in Burma, pp. 10–11.

    [19] The Kutara Manawa is an Old Javanese law code with close textual links to the Laws of Manu. It is probably of Javanese origin in the pre-Islamic period, with later Balinese accretions evident in the extant versions of the text collected in the late nineteenth century. See J.J. Jonker, Een Oud-Javaansch Wetboek Vergeleken met Indische Rechtsbronnen, Leiden: Brill, 1885. An Indonesian translation is available in R.B. Slametmuljana, Perundang-undangan Majapahit, Jakarta: Bhratara, 1967. The first 182 regulations of the text in the Jonker edition overlap with those in M.C. Hoadley and M.B. Hooker, An Introduction to Javanese Law: A Translation of and Commentary on the Agama, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1981. The British Library manuscript on which this edition is based is dated 1814. Hoadley and Hooker give the title Agama to their text, but agama is both a category designating any sacred traditional document or precept and a title applied to a number of quite different, although interrelated, law codes. The same is true of the adhigama and dewagama described next, which indicate both the names of particular manuscript traditions and aspects of the judicial process. Adhigama designates knowledge of right conduct according to law administered by the ruler and judiciary and dewagama is the name of an oath-taking ritual as part of trial proceedings. Hoadley and Hooker argue, unconvincingly, that the Agama is a Javanese text of sixteenth-century origin.

    [20] The Dutch government-sponsored published version of the Agama is a composite text comprising 379 regulations. The first 272 regulations match those found in the Kutara Manawa text edited by Jonker (see preceding note). The remaining regulations overlap in scope and content with other law codes; there is clear textual dependence on the Sanskrit Laws of Manu. I have not yet been able to trace the original Kawi text of the final section of approximately 100 regulations, but it incorporates regulations found also in the Swarajambu, Adhigama and Dewagama. This text—or, more likely textual compilation—was translated into Balinese and published in Balinese script at the instigation of colonial officials in 1909, see Goesti Poetoe Djilantik and Ida Bagoes Oka, Agama: Oud Balisch Wetboek. Op Last van den Resident van Bali en Lombok in het Hoog-Balisch Vertaald, Batavia: Landsdrukkerij, 1909. In 1918 an edited, Romanised transcription of the 1909 text with a Malay translation was published as I Goesti Poetoe Djlantik, Wetboek 'Agama' in het Hoog-Balisch en Maleisch Vertaald. Herzien en Verbeterd door H.J.E.F Schwartz, Batavia: Landsdrukkerij, 1918.

    [21] A Balinese translation is available in Goesti Poetoe Djilantik and Ida Bagoes Oka, Adi-Agama: Oud Balisch Wetboek. Op Last van den Resident van Bali en Lombok in het Hoog-Balisch Vertaald, Batavia: Landsdrukkerij, 1909. For the Kawi text I have used HKS1549 from the Balinese Manuscript Collection. Sections of the kawi text of the Adhigama, which is known in several manuscripts, incorporate colophons dating from the early eighteenth century.

    [22] The two sections of the Dewagama, the Purwa Agama and Kutara Agama were both published in Balinese and Malay translation in 1918 as I Goesti Poetoe Djlantik, Wetboek 'Poerwa Agama' in het Hoog-Balisch en Maleisch Vertaald. Herzien en Verbeterd door H.J.E.F. Schwartz, Batavia: Landsdrukkerij, 1918. I Goesti Poetoe Djlantik, Wetboek 'Koetara Agama' in het Hoog-Balisch en Maleisch Vertaald. Herzien en Verbeterd door H.J.E.F. Schwartz, Batavia: Landsdrukkerij, 1918. One copy of the Kawi version of the text , LOr 4270, is dated 25 April 1816. See L.C. Damais, 'Études d'épigraphie indonésienne: V. Dates des manuscrits et documents divers de Java, Bali et Lombok,' Bulletin de l' École Française d'Extrême Orient, vol. 49, no. 1 (1958):1–257. The Kutara Agama is a continuation of the Purwa Agama. For the Kawi text(s), I have used HKS 3621.

    [23] I have been able to check the translations against manuscript copies of the various texts as part of the broader project on legal codes and judicial practices and processes in nineteenth-century Bali referred to above. Any 'improvements' in the published editions involved only minor editorial emendations (such as spelling and punctuation) or occasionally the clarification of terms. Summaries of Dj(i)lantik's Malay translations of the Agama, Purwa Agama and Kutara Agama are included in M.C. Hoadley and M.B. Hooker, 'The law texts of Java and Bali', in The Laws of South-East Asia. Volume 1. The Pre-modern Texts, ed. M.C. Hoadley and M.B. Hooker, Singapore: Butterworths, 1986, pp. 241–346.

    [24] The colonial printed versions were ostensibly produced because, in the view of local Dutch officials, the Balinese priests who sat in judgement on law suits brought before the reformed European-style courts had insufficient knowledge of Old Javanese. There is good reason to consider this colonial assessment of indigenous textual knowledge not altogether reliable.

    [25] The Swarajambu has not been edited; I have made use of LOr4530; see Pigeaud, Literature of Java vol. 2, pp. 225–26. The text is discussed in detail by F. van Naerssen, 'The Astadasavyavahara in Old Javanese,' Journal of the Greater India Society, vol. 15 (1956):111–32.

    [26] Andaya, Flaming Womb, pp. 151–53.

    [27] Andaya, Flaming Womb, pp. 154–55.

    [28] The local economy was predominantly a barter system and the prevalence and value of cash transactions amongst ordinary Balinese is difficult to determine. The missionary W.H. Medhurst who visited North Bali in 1829–30, however, noted that '[t]he necessaries of life are cheap on Bali, one rupee and a half being sufficient to maintain a man comfortably a whole month.' He gives the value of the rupee as equivalent to 200 cash (called satak) so that 40,000 cash would presumably sustain an individual for at least ten years. W.H. Medhurst, 'Short account of the island of Bali, particularly of Bali Baliling,' in Notices of the Indian Archipelago and Adjacent Countries, ed J.H. Moor, Singapore, 1837, pp. 85–96, pp. 93–94.

    [29] Until the 1830s, slave trading was one of the principal sources of revenue for Balinese rulers and debt-bondage provided a constant supply of men and women for the slave market. See Henk Schulte Nordholt, The Spell of Power: A History of Balinese Politics, 1650–1940, Leiden: KITLV Press, 1996, pp. 42–44; Alfons van der Kraan, 'Bali: slavery and slave trade,' in Slavery Bondage and Dependency in Southeast Asia, ed. A.J.S. Reid, St Lucia, New York: University of Queensland Press, 1983, 315–40.

    [30] Separate compilations of regulations relating to incest (Gamya-gamana) and intercaste marriage (Krama ning alaki-arabi) are registered in the manuscript catalogues (see Pigeaud, Literature of Java, vol. 1, p. 308), but all appear to be of twentieth-century provenance and may have been extracted from the core law codes compiled for colonial officials at this time.

    [31] The corresponding regulations in Manu are 9.97 and 9.57 respectively. See also B. Ter Haar, Adat Law in Indonesia, New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1948, p. 174; V.E. Korn, Het Adatrecht van Bali, The Hague: Naeff, 2nd revised edition, 1932, pp. 470, 504.

    [32] See Helen Creese, Women of the Kakawin World: Marriage and Sexuality in the Indic Courts of Java and Bali, Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2004, chapter 3; for the discussion of the Balinese epigraphical data, see Korn, Adatrecht, pp. 28–30.

    [33] Exile is well documented in nineteenth-century Bali, but most of the severe physical punishments, mentioned from time to time in the law codes, can be traced directly to the Sanskrit text and do not appear to have been part of local judicial processes. Having the penis cut off is an approved punishment for assault of a higher caste man according to Manu 8.282

    [34] Similar stipulations are found in Manu 8.365–66.

    [35] Specifically in the Cempaga C inscription of 1334 CE; cited in Korn, Adatrecht, p. 29.

    [36] Creese, Kakawin World, chapter 3; Korn, Adatrecht, pp. 469–516.

    [37] As elsewhere in the Indonesian Archipelago, the terminology relating to bride price, most commonly tukon or patukon and panumbas, derives from root words meaning 'to sell' and is the same terminology that is generally used for land transactions. For the betrothal payment, which traditionally involves the ritual exchange of betel, an aspect nowhere alluded to in the legal texts, the terms panglamar and pamadik(an) are also used. Also found is panglarang, from the root larang 'to prohibit' which indicates the girl was now forbidden to others and belonged to the category of luh larangan 'forbidden women.'

    [38] Ter Haar, Adat, p. 167.

    [39] The 'naming' of crimes in this way is a characteristic of the Balinese texts, perhaps serving as mnemonic devices for those administering the law. Other examples are mentioned below.

    [40] The longer listing in the Adhig (Djlantik, Adi-agama, pp. 45–46) comprises the first sixteen types of abduction listed in Table 1, with some minor variations noted in the Table; the second list (Djlantik, Adi-agama, pp. 10–11) incorporates thirteen of those same sixteen forms of abduction under the heading of adultery (paradara).

    [41] Pierre Dubois, Idée de Bali: Brieven over Balie, (KITLV H281, Letter XIV).

    [42] Similar stipulations are found in Manu 9.74–79.

    [43] Doniger, Manu, p. 328, s.v. kliba. In the Slokantara (11-12), a collection of Sanskrit verses with Old Javanese exegesis drawn from niti literature, the Sanskrit word kliwa is glossed by Old Javanese kedi, in a listing of diseases of those descended from hell. There is no evidence of this approbation in the use of the word elsewhere in Old Javanese literature. See, Sharada Rani, Slokantara, An Old Javanese Didactic Text, New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture, 1957, pp. 39–40.

    [44] Hoadley and Hooker, Agama, p. 207, translate these two articles dealing with the kedi as referring to homosexuality, but this interpretation is questionable. Homosexuality is discussed again briefly in paragraphs 44–45.

    [45] In this regulation, the Balinese texts follow Manu 9.76, but with some local variation in the span of years and categories of absence. Variations on this regulation, as well as those dealing with the return of the bride price, are also found in other Southeast Asian law codes influenced by Manu. See Andaya, Flaming Womb, pp. 151–153.

    [46] In practice in Bali, divorce was, and remains, rarely a real option for women who, having ritually left their natal families at marriage, cannot return. Any children remain with the husband.

    [47] See also, Korn, Adatrecht, p. 503.

    [48] Robert Wicks, 'Monetary developments in Java between the ninth and sixteenth centuries: a numismatic perspective,' Indonesia, vol. 42 (1986):42–67.

    [49] Manu 8.369–70 (Doniger, Manu, p. 191): If a virgin does it [corrupts a willing virgin] to another virgin she should be fined two hundred pennies, be made to pay double (the girl's) bride price and receive ten whip (lashes). But if a (mature) woman does it to a virgin, her head should be shaved immediately, or two of her fingers should be cut off and she should be made to ride on a donkey.

    [50] Manu 8.371–72 (Doniger, Manu, pp. 191–92): 'If a woman who is proud of her relatives or her own qualities deceives her husband (with another man), the king should have her eaten by dogs in a place frequented by many people. And he should have the evil man burnt on a red hot iron bed, and people should pile wood on it and the evil doer should be burnt up.'

    [51] Andaya, Flaming Womb, pp. 226–28.

    [52] Barbara Watson Andaya, 'Regulating marriage and sexuality: states and laws in early modern Southeast Asia,' unpublished paper presented to the Annual Meeting, Association of Asian Studies, Chicago, 2 April 2005. Many of the arguments are incorporated into chapter 5 of Flaming Womb, but in this paper Andaya usefully addresses these problematic issues specifically in relation to law codes.

    [53] Nineteenth-century Dutch sources refer to the use of particular texts, particularly the Adhigama in specific law cases. See van Bloemen Waanders, 'Aanteekeningen,' pp. 260–79. See also Creese, 'Judicial processes.'

    [54] For example, F.A. Liefrinck, Landsverordeningen van Inlandsche Vorsten op Bali, The Hague, Nijhoff, 1917, chapter 6 'Huwelijk en daarmede verwante zaken,' pp. 290–351, includes eight edicts dating between 1815 and 1839. See also Korn, Adatrecht, pp. 29–67 for data from the twelfth-century Balinese inscriptions.

    [55] Andaya, Flaming Womb, p. 9, and Gender and Legal Codification in chapter 5 (p. 158–63); William Cummings, Making Blood White: Historical Transformations in Early Modern Makassar, Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 2002.

    [56] Andaya, Flaming Womb, pp. 159–60.

    [57] Andaya, Flaming Womb, p. 2.

    [58] Andaya, Flaming Womb, p. 9.

    [59] Barbara Watson Andaya, 'Studying women and gender in Southeast Asia,' in International Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (2007):113–36.


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