Various use of Pis Bolong or Kepeng
The panca datu, an important offering of iron, silver, copper, and gold, which is used to bless the foundation of an important building. Thus, even today, Pis bolong are associated with wealth. A single Pis bolong was never really valuable – but it is a charged metal object that is associated with, and a vehicle of, wealth. And so when gifts are made to the gods in the form of offerings such as flowers, fruits, cakes, and meat, Pis bolong are offered also. Pis oblong are included as the “base” of certain kinds of offerings. The exact number of coins is almost always specified, although the significance of the numbers is not known.
Pis bolong are used as what is called urip, a ritual “giving life” to an object. For example, when an important building is constructed, offerings called pedagingan must be placed below the foundations. The presence of coins in the pedagingan provides what is called pengurip-urip for the building, a prayer for its integrity and safety and well being. One of the common small offerings that used by individuals for praying in certain kinds of ceremonies is called a kwangen. It is in the shape of a small triangular or conical folded pocket, containing flowers and other ingredients and is held between the fingers as is a flower when one prays. Each kwangen must contain an urip of one Pis bolong.
Pis bolong are commonly used as sesari, a kind of gift to a priest or offering maker. It is common to put a small amount of money on top of an offering when bringing it to the temple to pray or when dedicating it under other circumstances. After the prayers, the money is left there with the understanding that the person who officiates should keep the money. In the case of sesari made at temples, the money is supposed to be used for temple activities. It is a kind of contribution on the part of the worshiper, since who conduct ceremonies are not often paid otherwise. Pis bolong are also used as decorations, most particularly around shines and pavilions when a ceremony is taking place. The common lamak, long banners of cut-up coconut leaves, are often studded with coins. The tamyiang, a kind of round decoration hung from the roof of a shrine or pavilion, is made with Pis bolong.
The coins are important to burial and cremation rites. Before a corpse is interred it is common to sprinkle it with Pis bolong, yellow rice, and flowers. And just before a body is cremated, a life-sized flat figurine, called an ukur, is constructed of attached Chinese coins and placed on a white sheet. The ukur represents the corpse, so that the actual body can be left in the cemetery where it will not contaminate the living space. The last act of gratitude that a family member can show toward its deceased relative is ritually enacted by each family member sticking a pin into one of the coins adorning the ukur. This represents “dressing”- by this pinning act, the figurine is fastened to the white cloth. Once the ritual is finished, the ukur is wrapped in a white sheet and carried to the cemetery on the cremation tower. There the cloth is remove from the tower, the wadah, and laid on the disinterred bones before the burning.
Chinese coins are used to make the figurine known as Sri Sedana. Sedana means “livelihood”, and sri, in this usage, refers to something like “essence”. Many families have a figurine in human form that they call Sri Sedana and is a kind of token of good luck or wealth. Most people think of Sri Sedana as the god of wealth, and there is a special day in the Pawukon anniversary cycle when offerings are made to him. The day is Buda Cemeng, (Wednesday) of the 28th week, Kelawu, of the recurring 30-week cycle. There are two kinds of Sri Sedana figures. Each is made of five sataks of Pis bolong, a total of 1,000 coins. The Sri Sedana Ngadeg is an actual standing human figure about 25 centimeters high, Sri Sedana Ngerem consist of the coins in a bag, not formed into a figure. Ngerem is high Balinese for “resting”, ngadeg means “stand”.
A Pis bolong satakan, a large bundle of coins, is usually carried in the melis procession -this is the ceremony, just before the new year, in which village gods are taken to the sea for ritual cleansing. In the ceremony called magunting bok, or mapepetik, commonly performed upon such occasions as the oton (birthday), weddings, and other Hindu rite of passage ceremonies, the priest cuts the hair of the person for whom the ceremony is being given as a symbol of purification. It is common for the subject of the ceremony to hold on his lap a bundle of Pis bolong called jinah sandangan, which contains 1,100 coins. This is a symbolic “payment” for the right to cut the honoree’s hair. Holy water, when collected from a far-away temple, is often carried in a bungbung, a hollow length of bamboo. It is usual to tie a Pis bolong on the bungbung, since the container carries such a sacred substance.
Source: Bali Sekala and Niskala