Visual Note- Tetemas

Tetemas, temas kunyit or semparan is a traditional healing practice that Atah used to identify and treat a person experiencing “keteguran”. “Keteguran” is a situation where a person fall sick after an encounter with an invisible entity or spirit. “Keteguran”  could happen at anytime or anywhere but potentially even more during moments of the days where spirit or evil entities roamed around more actively such as at dusk, high noon or midnight.


Atah began “tetemas”  by asking the patient’s name and where was the last location that the person was at or visited before they fell sick. She would  then chant the Al-Quran verse of Al-Fatihah followed by a short prayer, mentioning the name of the patient and their last location before falling sick while putting  a turmeric cube cut into half on the back of her hand and running the hand over a burning incense. Then, she would throw the turmeric cuts to the floor and try to identify the problem by looking at the positions of the turmeric on the floor and “coaxing” the spirit to leave the person in peace by repeating the process until the right position was achieved (see the diagram below).


Once the turmeric indicated the right position, Atah would smear some limestone paste on the turmerics and use them to mark the patient’s forehead, the skin behind the ears, shoulder, hands, stomach, backside  and knees.  At the end of the ritual, Atah would ask the patient to spit on the turmeric cubes before she threw them outside the house.