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October 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1988 ; 27(8): 779-87.

Healing texts and healing techniques in indigenous Balinese medicine.

McCauley AP.

School of Continuing Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218.

Case histories of three prominent Balinese healers illustrate various ways that indigenous medical texts are used in healing. Most healers employ mantras, spells and inscriptions from the texts because they believe them to have innate power which can heal. A smaller group of healers are literate in the archaic language used in the palm-leaf medical manuscripts. However, their use of these manuscripts often differs from the literal and unambiguous way that Westerners read medical documents. An examination of Balinese medical manuscripts, in the context of the conventions of Balinese literature, demonstrates the use of these texts to align the body with the macrocosm and to reaffirm the beliefs of the ancestors.

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