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Customs Officials Foil Skeleton Thieves

Bones Stolen From Bali's Lake Batur Grave Site Were Destined for France.

(5/8/2004) On Friday, May 7, 2004, Customs Officials at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport seized human skulls and other bones stolen from the resting place of Trunyan village on Lake Batur. The human remains, believed to be over 100 years old, were discovered in postal packets destined for France by airport officials. In the same packets officials also found a firearm and a sacred sword (Keris).

Trunyan Village, in Bangli Regency on a remote shore of Lake Batur, is home to an traditional village believed to be home to some of one of the earliest human settlements in Bali. Villagers in Trunyan have distinctive funereal practices that dictate the remains of the dead be left unburied and exposed to the elements.

Three separate resting spots around the village contain the decomposing remains of generations of Trunyan villagers divided according to whether they died as an infant or unmarried, due to an accident or suicide, and the most exalted area for those who died intact of natural causes. Locals and visitors insist that the macabre collection of human remains do not smell with any odor eliminated by flowering tree surrounding exposed remains.

Officials are expected to return the confiscated skulls and bones to Bali for eventual return to the shores of Trunyan.