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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. 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...

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

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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 >> 

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Meet the Author

David Max Braun
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn