VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Volcano “Guardian” Buried Under Mount Merapi Ash

Mbah Marijan, the octogenerian spiritual guardian of Mount Merapi, was found dead this week, buried under ash spewed from the volcano he served.

AP060518039494 as Smart Object-1.jpg

Wearing traditional dress, Marijan, center, the spiritual guardian of Mount Merapi, with other villagers perform a midnight walk circling their village in silence as a part of a ritual of a prayer for protection from disaster, in Kinahrejo village which lies on the slope of the volcano, Indonesia, late Thursday, May 18, 2006.

AP Photo/Dita Alangkara

“Even after an eruption alert was issued and most villagers on the slopes of Java’s Mount Merapi had been evacuated, 83-year old Mbah (grandfather)” stayed put, BBC News reported on its website.

“His battle to tame one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes ended on Wednesday when he was buried by the mountain’s thick ash. He was reportedly found dead in a prayer position in his house, as rescuers also dug out more than two dozen more victims in the area–many who had also refused to leave,” the BBC added.

Marijan was featured in the January 2008 National Geographic Magazine cover story, “The Gods Must Be Restless,” a feature about living in the shadow of Indonesia’s volcanoes.

Marijan, National Geographic said, inherited his job as Merapi’s caretaker from his father. His duties included mollifying a volcano-dwelling ogre.

Read the National Geographic article.

Pictures: Indonesia’s Mount Merapi Volcano Erupts >> 

Join Nat Geo News Watch community

Readers are encouraged to comment on this and other posts–and to share similar stories, photos and links–on the Nat Geo News Watch Facebook page. You must sign up to be a member of Facebook and a fan of the blog page to do this.

Leave a comment on this page

You may also email David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org) if you have a comment that you would like to be considered for adding to this page. You are welcome to comment anonymously under a pseudonym.