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Dr. A.A. Madé Djelantik

2 February 2010

At exactly midnight, between the 4th and 5th of September, Dr. A.A. Madé Djelantik, our Honorary President of the Walter Spies Society Germany, passed away peacefully at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar which he founded many years ago. Yesterday, the present director of the hospital, Prof. Dr. dr. AA Gedé Sudewa Djelantik, informed me that very soon,'Rumah Sakit Sanglah' in Denpasar will be renamed in his honor.

 

When he departed, a few family members and close friends were at his side.

Only days before, I brought a long-stemmed white orchid to his bedside together with a large reproduction of Walter Spies’ Scherzo for Brassinstruments, a painting that he always loved.
Below the picture, I wrote: “Dear Dr. Djelantik, you encouraged us to start the Walter Spies Society in Germany and then gave us your precious counsel. Thanks for all your support. We admire you and love you.”

He was visibly touched and tried to whisper something about the Scherzo. But when he realized that I could not understand, he saved the sad situation by smiling and, with the little energy he had, he stretched out his right thumb.

Dr. A.A. Madé Djelantik was the founder of the Yayasan Walter Spies Bali” (the Walter Spies Foundation Bali). At the outset, every year he carefully chose the projects or topics of discussion. In time, when the funding became sparse, the meetings could only take place every two years. The Walter Spies Festival of 1995 will remain a landmark event in the recent history of Bali. The festival centered on music, dance and theatre and was greatly responsible for inspiring teachers to bring back to life dances long forgotten, with new choreographies.

Following an appointment by the late President Sukarno, Dr. Djelantik taught medicine for many years at the Universitas Udayana in Denpasar. Later, he also taught “Aesthetics”, a subject that was always close to his heart, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Denpasar, which he co-founded.

In his early youth, when he decided to become a doctor, he was the first Balinese to study medicine overseas. After graduating from the University of Amsterdam, in 1948 he was posted to some of the most remote parts of Indonesia at the time when this immense archipelago was still separated into two parts. He spent a period on the notorious island of Buru in the Moluccas. The person who banned him to this foresaken place was none other than his childhood friend, Anak Agung Gedé Agung, who at the time was the Prime Minister of the East-Indonesian Republic. Dr. Djelantik was suspected to be in contact with his friend Ngurah Rai, the great Balinese martyr who later died in Indonesia’s struggle for independence.

And indeed there was still a relation between Dr.Djelantik and his former school mate Ngurah Rai. In 1947, short after the Balinese wedding of Astri Henriete Swart and Dr. Djelantik in the palace ‘Puri Agung Karangasem’, he received a letter written by Ngurah Rai:
“My dear friend, I fully approve of what you are doing. Please carry on with your mission. I will not follow your steps, because I have vowed that I will continue our armed struggle until my last drop of blood! Let us fight together, each in his own way. We remain brothers. Destroy this piece of paper. Ng.Rai”

After the Dutch had abandoned Indonesia Dr. Djelantik was able to settle back in Bali and work as a doctor. He was soon promoted to the position of “Chief Physician” responsible for the medical care of the entire island of Bali. When President Sukarno—whose mother was Balinese—came to stay in his residence in Tampaksiring, Dr. Djelantik served as his private doctor. Sukarno then asked him to start the faculty of medicine at the University of Udayana. It was at this time that Dr. Djelantik founded Sanglah Hospital, becoming its director.

Because of his success with malaria eradication in Bali, as soon as he retired, the World Health Organization employed him to help battle malaria in Nepal, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Highly educated and cosmopolitan, incredibly curious and well versed in several languages, Dr. Djelantik was one of the most unusual personalities of Bali. He was deeply rooted to his culture, and incorruptible in his principles. He faced many situations with great courage, and was incapable of betraying his beliefs and values.

Aside from his great vocation as a doctor and his commitment to the medical profession, he had a special love for classical music, and played the violin. He was also actively drawn to fine art, literature and philosophy. He read the works of German philosophers in the original language. At the funeral of his Dutch friend, Dr. Hans Rhodius, biographer of Walter Spies, he gave the farewell speech In Dutch. Some of the guests present could not help expressing their astonishment at the high quality of his language, which they had not heard in a very long time.

Thanks to his unforgettable humor, irony, self-effacement, and the ability to put arrogant authorities in their place without letting them feel his superiority, he was able to survive the many challenges of his life. Because of his education in the ‘Puri Agung’ of Karangasem as the son of last governing “raja” of East Bali, he exuded humble modesty, compassion, and humanity, despite his regal status.

In 1990, he published his book on Balinese Paintings (Oxford University Press). In 1995, he contributed his essay, The Magic Realism of Walter Spies, for the catalogue of the exhibition ‘Walter Spies di Indonesia’. Frequently, he also gave public lectures on Walter Spies In his autobiography, The Birthmark: The Memoirs of a Balinese Prince (Periplus, Singapore, 1997), Dr. Djelantik paid homage to his beloved Dutch wife Astri Swart who died the same year of the publication. In 1999, he also published a work on aesthetics entitled Estetika - Sebuah Pengantar (Masyarakat Seni Pertunjukan Indonesia, Bandung).

Some years later, upon reviving after a month-long coma, he found himself unable to devote himself to writing which had always been his passion. So he began to paint watercolors about memorable episodes from his adventurous life. These paintings inspired the Italian storyteller Idanna Pucci to transform them into a collection of stories, Against All Odds: The Strange Destiny of a Balinese Prince, (Saritaksu, Bali, 2005).

Many people from all social classes in Bali came to bid farewell to Dr. AA Madé Djelantik, who has been lying in state under the roof of the bale pavilion in the garden of his house in Denpasar, where once he welcomed his guests. He has been transferred to the family palace ‘Puri Agung Karangasem’ in Amlapura, in East Bali on the 12th of September. His body has been cremated on the 13th of September according to the rites of the Bali-Hindu religion. His ashes had been given to the sea close to his father’s water palace in Ujung.

With deep reverence to Anak Agung Madé Djelantik, our Balinese Honorary President.

Horst Jordt Deutsche Walter Spies Gesellschaft
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