Teeth filing in Surabayan Javanese and Balinese: A change in tradition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Although deliberate modification of the dentition, has been documented in human groups worldwide, little has been written about these cultural practices in the Bali and Java Islands recently. Evidence of cultural dental modification in skeletal sample from the collection of Department of Anatomy and Histology, that came from the colonial era, is documented. Twenty three of 31 skulls exhibit modification of the anterior teeth. Tooth filing is the most common form of modification in Java and Bali. Eleven individuals exhibit filing of the labial side of the anterior teeth which may be a purposeful alteration. Examination of the skulls, and modern human of Balinese and Javanese in Surabaya reveals that the practise is still observed in Balinese, but not in Javanese. The skulls reveals that some Javanese practised teeth filing in the past. While the origins of this practice is still yet unknown, the presence and style of these cultural alterations signifies or mark a rite of passage, and may be cosmetic in nature. None of the modern Javanese interviewed practised teeth filing, while the Balinese still practised the teeth filing even when they were away from the original island. The teeth filing practise in some of the Balinese nowadays is not performed as severe as it used to be when they wanted to do it just a little bit at the tip of the teeth. There is a change of the intention of the teeth filing because the recent change of perception regarding how beauty and healthy teeth is percieved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA World View of BioCulturally Modified Teeth: Past and Present
EditorsScott E. Burnett, Joel D. Irish
Place of PublicationUnited States of America
PublisherUniversity Press of Florida
ChapterPART III: Asia, Australia, and Oceania: Different Lands and Possibilities
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780813052977
ISBN (Print)9780813054834
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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