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Farewell Dr Djelantik

2 February 2010

Indonesia's premier cultural historian »

Farewell Dr Djelantik

by ADRIAN VICKERS


16 SEPTEMBER, 2007
Indonesia lost one of its national treasures at midnight on 4th September, with the death of Dr Anak Agung Made Djelantik. From the royal family of Karangasem, Dr Djelantik had an amazing life, to match his vast range of talents. Amongst other things, he had been head of Bali's main teaching hospital at Sanglah, and a leading figure in the promotion and study of Balinese culture.

 

When a group of academics led by the late Fritz de Boer, Hildred Geertz and Hedi Hinzler, started the Society for Balinese Studies in the early 1980s, it was Dr Djelantik who became the natural head of our Society. His publications on Balinese art include his 1986 short book on Balinese painting, still the only general account of Balinese art history, and important writing on Balinese aesthetics, only some of which have been published.

Dr Djelantik’s autobiography, The Birthmark (sadly out of print), captures only some of the highlights of his life. Besides his immense contribution to Balinese culture, and to the practice of medicine in Indonesia, he deserves to be remembered as a man of extraordinary moral integrity. While others from privileged backgrounds have chosen to enrich themselves as members of the Jakarta elite, Dr Djelentik always lived very modestly in his cosy little house at Renon. As a student in the Netherlands during World War Two he had to dodge the Gestapo as he worked with other students in the Resistance. After the 1965 Coup in Indonesia, when the death squads came around to his hospital to remove patients, Dr Djelantik did what few others at the time had the courage to do, and refused the mass murderers entry, persuading them in his calm, humanitarian manner to leave. If anybody deserves to be declared a ‘national hero’, then surely Dr Djelantik fits the bill.

Comments

Bali and the world lost a true humanitarian hero when Dr Djelantik passed away in September last year. Four years before his passing, an illustrated biography was written about and illustrated by Dr A A Djelantik himself. This beautiful book was written by Idanna Pucci and Published by Saritaksu Editions and is entitled “Against All Odds: The Strange Destiny of a Balinese Prince”. It tells the story of his life as told by him to Pucci. From growing up as a Balinese prince, through war time in Europe as a trainee civilian doctor, many adventures in Indonesia, as world expert on Malaria, and through to his rehabilitation through re-learning the art of watercolours following a near fatal stroke. In helping us to understand more about this enigmatic Prince, this book gently relates his story. Written in both Indonesian and English, it is available through most large book outlets in Bali or through the publisher. For more info: http://www.saritaksu.com/againstallodds.htm

Posted by: Paulien Long | February 12, 2008 01:17 AM
Dr. A.A. Made Djelantik was born on July 21st 1919 in Karangasem Regency, Bali. His father was Anak Agung Bagus Djelantik, Stedehouder von Karangasem and was dubbed A.A. Anglurah Ketut Karangasem in 1939. His mother was known as Mekele Sela, both had passed away. His beloved wife was Astri Henriete Zwart, passed away in 1997. He had five children: Dr Ayu Bulantrisna Djelantik-Soejoto (Bandung-Wichita Falls TX US); A.A. Ayu Suryawati Djelantik (Denpasar); A.A. Ayu Madelief Futri Djelantik-Hobohm (Wina, Austria); A.A.G. Dharma Widoere Djelantik (Gouda-Holland); Merti Hope Djelantik-Rittgers (Tolland, CI US) with 13 granchildren and 3 great grandchildren.