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  The Wong Sakti

Thrill seekers in every culture enjoy watching someone brave take a great risk before their eyes and live to tell the tale. Balinese audiences are no exception, although the island lacks any traditional of wire-walking, high-diving, or other dangerous athletic tricks. But in the realm of magic, black and white, there are specialists who will perform feats before your very eyes.

These professionals are called Wong Sakti (men of power). The demonstration involves a contest, either with the ambient spirits in a dangerous location, or with another magician.

In 1976, for example, a sensational duel took place between two famous Wong Sakti. One was from Sanur, and the other from Blahbatuh.

At that time thousands of spectators gathered on the beach at Sanur to watch great bolts of fire and clouds in the form of giant warriors fly back and forth across the sky.

Apart from the great sorcerers who work on the cosmic scale are many other Wong Sakti who work at more local level. Certain dalang for example, who specialize in a certain kind of shadow play, the Wayang Calonarang acquire a reputations for being able to counteract the power of black magicians and other people who can turn themselves into leyak (demons).

Another professional showman belonging to the Wong Sakti category is the dusang (corpse). This man's specialty is playing dead in dramatic performances. He lies inert as he is stripped, washed, and wrapped, while song for the dead is sung.

Then the ceremony for someone newly deceased is carried out before the 'body' is carried to the cemetery and left by itself.

To submit to this procedure is considered extremely dangerous, for by doing it the person invites any leyak which may be in the vicinity to come and devour him. The dusang, like the kris-dancer, feels the exaltation of being invulnerable in dangerous circumstances.

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