Batamba: A Traditional Healing Art of Banjar

"Batamba traditional medical treatment comes from Banjar, South Kalimantan. This treatment is believed to be able to cure not only physical ailments, but also psychological ones, or diseases that are related to magical elements"

Published by : Farida  -  13/06/2022 09:21 WIB

2 Minutes read.

Batamba traditional medicine is also commonly referred to as Batamban or Batatamba, which means to get healed. People who can do Batamba are called Pananamban or tabib. Usually, the pananamban is an important figure in the community. Batamba is a typical Banjarese ethnomedicine which includes South Kalimantan, parts of Central Kalimantan, and parts of East Kalimantan. The traditional treatment of Batamba is passed down from generation to generation.


Methods of Batamba 

As a traditional medicine, of course Batamba uses traditional ingredients that are found around the Banjarese living areas. Herbal concoctions become one of the ways to get rid of illnesses or diseases. Quoted from the book Batamba Pengobatan Tradisional di Kalimantan Selatan (Batamba Traditional Medical Treatment in South Kalimantan) by Sisva Maryadi, in addition to using traditional ingredients, Batamba also uses mantras or incantations in the form of prayers. In addition, Batamba also uses special objects to help with medical treatment. One of Batamba’s tools is Sasirangan cloth.


Furthermore, in the book published by the Pontianak Cultural Value Preservation Center (BPNB, Balai Pelestarian Nilai Budaya), Sisva explained that Batamba is not only used to treat physical ailments. But it is also believed to be able to treat mental illness and also diseases that have something to do with spiritual or magical spheres.

Based on the explanation of a humanist from South Kalimantan, Humaidy Ibnu Sami, as published on the jejakrekam.com page, there are at least five ways of Batamba’s ways of treatment. The first is to baurut or massage, usually with oil. This method is for treating joint pain, broken bones, back pain, breech babies, stroke, and others.


Water is the second way. Water is filled with a prayer of holy words taken from passages from the Koran, Hadith, Asmaul Husna (The best and most beautiful names of Allah SWT according to their nature, not His substance), sholawat nabi, to the sentence of thayyibah. Later, the water will be sprayed, smeared, used for bathing, or drunk to the patient.

The third way is with a spell. Usually the spell is in the form of a banjar rhyme that contains prayers and is closed with a sentence of praise to Allah SWT and Prophet Muhammad SAW. In addition, there are incantations that quote verses from the Koran.

The fourth way is the barajah method. For most people, this method may feel painful and scary, as it includes scratching the patient’s body, prayers or pieces of Quran verses that are believed to be medicine.

The fifth way is to use herbs. The herbs used are those that grow around the residences of the people who do batamba.

Batamba Practice Aids

In addition to using mantras, incantations, and prayers, batamba medicine practices also use other tools. As explained in the journal article Batamba: Ritual Pengobatan Tradisional Dalam Masyarakat Banjar (Batamba: Traditional Medicine Rituals in Banjar Society) by Zulfa Jamalie, pananamba usually uses objects that are believed to have good luck or magical elements that can help the healing process.


The magical objects include besi tua (scrap metal), besi kuning (yellow iron), parang bungkul (bungkul machetes), mandau (sabers), spears, badil, various amulets, and sasirangan cloth. Sasirangan cloth is believed to have magical powers that can ward off evil spirits.

There are several types of sasirangan cloth. There is a Sarung Sasirangan (Sasirangan Sarong) which is used as a blanket to treat fever. Then there is Babat Sasirangan, similar to a stagen (a kind of sash) wrapped around the stomach to cure diarrhea. There is also a Selendang Sasirangan (Sasirangan shawl) wrapped around the head to treat migraines. Lastly, the Ikat Sasirangan, which is used similarly to the Selendang Sasirangan.