Tatung, The Path of Destiny

Tatung or Lauya is how the Indonesians of Chinese descent in Singkawang, West Kalimantan call their magic men. The role of Tatung had been shaped by elements of other cultures in West Kalimantan, the territory of the rites they observe follows a continuously reconstructed boundaries with the customs of otherthnic groups. In the end, a new identity rises even in the original culture.
The locals believe that a Tatung does not have to be of Chinese descent. They can be of any religion and sex, because a person can be Tatung by birth or by "calling", "marked" from the beginning. Most Tatungs confessed of shivering when they were initially "called", of sudden fluency in ancient China and of knowing the names of the gods. After they were brought to a Lauya (a Tionghoa witchdoctor), the deity who possessed the would-be Tatung was determined, as well as the divine clothes the Tatung has to wear for spiritual rites.
There are 552 Tatungs in Singkawang. None of them lead a life of wealth, although they hold a steady job. Every Tatung has a throne they made themselves that cost Rp 15-20 million and had to be crafted with tools from China.
Bong Khin Djung (56) is a toothmaker on Jalan Budi Utomo, SIngkawang, West Kalimantan, a Tatung since the age seven. Back then the Lauya believed the "Five Corners Captain God" resided him. Bong has 13 children, five of whom are Tatung and "marked" at the beginning as he was. The youngest Tatung in the family is Henry Fran Wong (9), who was "marked" at a Tao Pek Kong ceremony.
There is no special training or ritual to be a Tatung, who spends most of his day praying for the welfare of his people. Tatung, the product of acculturation, now wears a new identity.