Game of Thief: Maling-Malingan

Each culture that flourish around the globe has its own way in dealing with thief, some cultures use harsh punishment, other use social sanction such as excommunication but the inhabitants of Tenganan village in Bali has a kind of ritual in dealing with thief, it is called Maling-malingan or “game of thief” (the word “maling” in Balinese language means “thief”).


Maling-malingan ritual is held once a year, in accordance with Usaba Sambah (the biggest series of ceremonies which is held in fifth month of Tenganan’s traditional calendar). The ritual is held around 9 AM, only Tenganan’s boys and men are participate in this ritual.

The preparation of the ritual starts early in the morning, the elders of Tenganan village hang some pieces of meats and bones on the ceiling of Bale Agung (the grand house). Around 9 PM, two boys comes to the Bale Agung and steal the meats and bones, other members of Tenganan community chase the young thieves and catch them after few minutes of hide and seek. Then the young “culprits” is led to Bale Agung in order to be decorated with dry banana leafs as cloth, meats as necklaces, bracelets or other accessories, and their face and body are painted white and red. After the make up and dress up is done, the young “thieves” are paraded around the village and booed by the rest of community.

This ritual has been practiced by the people of Tenganan for centuries; this ritual is use to show that a thief is never accepted in Tenganan village and to discourage the member of Tenganan community from doing thievery.

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2 Responses to “Game of Thief: Maling-Malingan”

  1. GarykPatton on June 16th, 2009 10:17 am

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  2. KonstantinMiller on July 7th, 2009 4:28 am

    Hi. I like the way you write. Will you post some more articles?

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