THE SACRED MONKEYS OF BALI

BRUCE P. WHEATLY

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Waveland Press, Inc.
Prospect Heights, Illinois

1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction						1

Chapter 1  Bali, the Monkey King 			5
  The Island of Bali 7 
  The Naming of Bali 10 
  The Arts of Bali 11 
  The Ramayana 13 
  Worldviews 17 
  A Western View of the Universe:
    Humanity Apart from Nature 18
  A Balinese/Javanese View of the 
  Universe 23
  Balinese Monkeys: Animals or Gods? 27
  The Liminality of Monkeys 31

Chapter 2  Primate Commensalism 			37
Human Influences on Macaca fascicularis 39 
Indonesian Borneo 41 
The Antiquity of Primate Commensalism in 
  Southeast Asia 45
Ngeaur Island, Republic of Palau 48 
The Monkey Forest in Padangtegal, Ubud, Bali 52 
Diet of the Monkeys in the Monkey Forest 54 
Cultural Behaviors of the Monkeys in the 
  Monkey Forest 61

Chapter 3 Social Behavior of Temple Monkeys at 
   Padangtegal						65
Introduction 67
Behavior and Dominance 69
Coalitions and Appeal Aggression 74
Grooming and Rank 78
Infant Handling and Lethal Kidnapping 87
Dominant Males 95
Male Affiliative Behavior 99
Sexual Behavior 101
Summary of Male Rank and Sexual Behavior 103
Birth Season 104
Vocalizations 105
Intertroop Behavior 109

Chapter 4  The Sacred Monkey Forest at Padangtegal	119
The District or Regency of Gianyar 122 
Ubud, a Subdistrict of Gianyar 122 
Monkey Forests 123 
Tri Hita Karana 124 
The Questionnaire and Community Attitudes 127 
The Sacred Monkey Forest: The Managerial 
  Committee and Conservation 132

Chapter 5  Cultural Primatology				145

Appendix  The Vocal Repertoire of M.fascicularis 
  at the Monkey Forest at Padangtegal 			153

References									165
Index										181

[From the] INTRODUCTION:

Anthropology is a rich and diverse area of research that 
utilizes many different approaches to the understanding of 
humanity. Each of the subfields in anthropology focuses on a 
particular aspect of humans, and the discipline's emphasis on 
fieldwork adds another dimension to the richness of the 
field. As a primatologist who studies monkeys, my subfield is 
physical anthropology, the study of human biology. Although 
my training was in all of the four subfields of anthropology-
cultural, linguistics, archaeology, and physical-I began my 
career studying monkeys as animals, albeit very interesting 
animals.

	Watching monkeys or more accurately, macaques, in 
Kalimantan or Indonesian Borneo for two years, I began to 
realize the importance of human influences on these animals, 
such as the impact of slash-and-burn or swidden agriculture. 
Studying the same species of macaque, Macaca fascicularis, 
once again in Java and Bali, I began to realize the depth and 
the importance of the culture's heritage about monkeys and 
how different it was from my own.

	In the last twenty years of teaching cultural and 
physical anthropology, I found myself straying more and more 
"over the line" into cultural anthropology. The area where 
humans and monkeys intersected was simply irresistible, and I 
did not see too many cultural anthropologists doing it. I 
still feel somewhat guilty about this transgression, and I 
have to say that I am not a cultural anthropologist. A 
trained cultural anthropologist specializing in that field 
would, no doubt, do a much better job than I regarding the 
Balinese culture would. Cultural anthropologists may, in 
fact, find some ideas and interpretations in this book that 
are objectionable or simplistic. I can only hope that they 
will be tolerant and practice a little "subfield relativism"
on my attempt to show the importance of Balinese cultural 
attitudes toward monkeys as they relate to the development of 
conservation at one of the monkey forests in Bali.

	These are difficult times for our time-honored four-
field approach. The American Anthropological Association, for 
example, recently calculated that only 28 percent of all 
university anthropology departments have faculty in all four 
subfields (Morell, 1993). Departments are dividing where the 
schism is especially wide: between the physical or biological 
subfield and the cultural subfield. A recent survey of 
physical anthropologists revealed that"without doubt" the 
traditional four-field approach was no longer appropriate 
(Wienker & Bennett, 1992). Cultural anthropology, for 
example, was thought to be of only marginal importance to 
physical anthropologists. Annette Weiner (1995) and James 
Peacock (1997) both addressed this problem of the split-up of 
our field in their recent presidential addresses to the 
American Anthropological Association on the future of 
anthropology. They emphasized the need to merge the insights 
of our fieldwork with our theory in order to solve society's 
problems and to be relevant. According to Peacock, if we are 
to be successful in bringing our discipline out of its 
present "marginal category," then we need to"use it or lose 
it". Our separate but equal subfields should learn from each 
other and come together. We could then integrate our 
understanding of the world and begin to shape it. Peacock 
(1997) called for a multidisciplinary approach to enhance 
human welfare.

	This book was written with this multidisciplinary and 
mutualistic spirit in mind. I think that the separation and 
antagonism between the subfields is a mistake. One of the 
rationales of primatology, the study of primates, is that we 
can understand ourselves better. Primates have been used as 
models for humans with remarkable success in the area of 
biomedicine for a long time. The development of many vaccines 
and the discovery and understanding of the Rh (initials 
deriving from rhesus monkeys) factor in humans are just a few 
notable factors. Sherwood Washburn and Irven DeVore (1961) 
also utilized this approach in their famous studies of 
baboons on the African savanna. Such studies help us in our 
hypotheses about human evolution by making us consider how 
natural selection might operate on the behavior of baboons 
and, by inference, early humans in an environment where we 
evolved.

	My approach is broader. I am interested in pursuing 
questions and answers to every area in which nonhuman 
primates intersect with us. For example, what can 
primatologists offer to cultural anthropologists? How might a 
study of monkeys help us understand Balinese culture? Could 
an understanding of Balinese attitudes toward monkeys help us 
understand ourselves, as Westerners, or ecologists? One of 
the most important areas in which anthropology can be 
relevant is the field of conservation. The collaboration of 
physical and cultural anthropology to solve the problem of 
habitat loss and endangered species typifies what each of our 
subfields in anthropology can do for our welfare. Thus, while 
this book is about a species of macaque, it is also about my 
collaboration with local scientists and local people for a 
common goal, namely, the conservation of the Monkey Forest. 
The application of this collaboration toward conservation 
goals may prove to be a useful model elsewhere in the world. 
This approach is also a good example of what the American 
Anthropological Association recognizes as our fifth subfield, 
applied anthropology.

              ######################

	The book begins by examining the important role that 
monkeys play in Balinese culture.  Chapter 1 discusses the 
impact of the Ramayana Kakawin, the ancient and holy Javanese 
version of the Indian epic poem, on the religion and arts of 
Bali.  It is in this and other poems and stories that the 
derivation of the mane Bali may be found.  This chapter also 
differentiates Balinese views of human nature from Western 
views and discusses how these views affect attitudes toward 
monkeys.  Westerners tend to think of polar opposites with a 
sharp dichotomy between human reason and morality on the one 
hand and the sinful and evil monkey on the other hand.  
Balinese can accommodate such polar opposites, however, and 
are able to integrate them.  Thus, the Balinese can have, as 
I argue, not only a godlike monkey such as Hanuman, but also 
an animal-like and demonic monkey.  

	Chapter 2 discusses the antiquity and prevalence of 
human-monkey interactions or primate commensalism.  Humans 
have modified every ecosystem on earth, and we can no longer 
treat such influences as well as the animals in them, as 
"unnatural."  Chapter 3 presents new and detailed data
gathered within a seven-year period on the behavior of the 
long-tailed macaque in the Monkey Forest of Padangregal near 
the village of Ubud, Bali.  For the first time in this 
species, the behavior of females as well as intertroop 
behaviors are elucidated.  Chapter 4 discusses how Ubud, one 
of the primary targets of the ecotourist, is one of the few 
communities in the world that has managed to control 
development and use tourism to benefit the local community.  
This chapter shows how the local people developed a 
conservation plan and how I worked with them to manage the 
Monkey Forest.  The final chapter discusses the integration 
of subfields into a new symbiotic fired that I have called 
cultural primatology.  This field promises to be a rich area 
in the investigation of the interactions between human and 
nonhuman primates.   

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