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|Bali Travel: The Undying Balinese Arts
The island of Bali is literally a very beautiful island situated
under the equator in Indonesian Archipelago, is one of the most
interesting and ultimate tourist destination in Asia. Since the
first decade of the 20th century visitors have given to it
several nicknames "Island of Gods" - "Island of thousand
Temples" - "The Last Paradise" - and also often called "Island
The spirit of creativity pervades everything in Balinese life,
from the cultivation of the steeply-terraced rice field to the
elaborate temple offerings of flowers and foods given to the
gods at times of celebration. Dancing, playing the gamelan,
painting and carving is as much a part of an ordinary day as
working in the offices, in the fields or feeding livestock.
In ancient times, the people of the Indonesian Archipelago
followed the ways of animism and ancestor worship. By around
A.D. 600 however, Indian ideas and beliefs began to spread
throughout Southeast Asia. Both Buddhism and Hinduism became
active force on the islands of Sumatra and Java. When Islam
gained control of Java in the 16th century, many Hindu princes,
their followers and artisans fled to Bali. They established
principalities on Bali.
The earliest art of Bali dates from this pre-Hindu era,
including highly of decorative works of bronze, as well as
skilled basketworks and weaving. During the Hindu era, the
princes and their relatives were the patronage of the native
arts of Bali, and also sustained by the guiding rituals of its
religion. The palaces and temples, as political and religious
center of the island, were also centers of the arts.
A prince would adorn his pavilions with the most exquisitely
carved wood panels, paintings, silken materials, gilded
umbrellas and would be entertained by gamelan music, dances and
songs of poetical Kawi language. The opulence of the court - had
its religious parallel in the lavish decoration and dances
within the temples. So the courts and the temples have been
receiving equal high performance in art.
This convergence of beauty and ritual explains why the arts have
endured to such a great extent in Bali. Ritual demanded a
continuous renewal of communion with the divine through temple
celebrations. The people poured their artistic talents into
preparations of these occasions. New offerings have to be made,
new shrines constructed, new statues of stones and woods have to
be carved, dances, music and dramas created and practiced. This
kept carvers and masons constantly occupied creating new
sculptures or retouching older ones.
The Balinese language has no words for "art" and "artist". In
former times there had been no need for such definitions. Art
was never considered a
conscious production for its own sake.
Rather, it was regarded as a collective obligation to make thing
beautiful. And this was always done with a definite purpose: to
create beauty in service to society and religion. Thus a
"figure-maker" or "picture-maker" as well as a farmer or
merchant, he was called upon when his skills were needed. He
neither signed his name to his work, nor received money for his
labor. His prime aim was to serve his community. As was true in
the olden days, the majority of Bali's artists are highly
skilled craftsmen who learned their trade by mastering the
traditional forms inherited from their forefathers.
In the first decade of the 20th century, the Dutch took the
island, and Bali entered a new era as a colony of the
Netherlands. Western education, modern technology, magazines,
and a steady tourist trade opened up a new world for many
Balinese, and this widening of outlook was reflected in the
arts. For the first time, craftsmen began to treat their work as
art for art's sake, experimenting in new style, themes and
media. With the arrival of the Western influence, the rigid
conventions of the traditional style were no longer binding.
Instead of illustrating stories from the great Hindu epics, some
Balinese artists began to depict scenes of everyday life and
nature in their work. The present art community has two
criteria: (a) a work of art is praiseworthy in the eyes of
fellow Balinese, or (b) it appeals to the foreign market and is
To day the traditional and modern arts can be viewed at various
places: Museum Bali in Denpasar presents a commendable survey of
Balinese art from prehistoric times to the early 20th century
and modern arts. Werdi Budaya Arts Center in Denpasar offers
exhibitions and sales of local handicrafts and hand loomed
fabrics. Tohpati for fine batiks. Celuk for silver and gold
works. Mas for excellent woodcarvings. Ubud is the heart of arts
and cultures, home of the most talented painters. And Klungkung
for the traditional paintings and silver works.
So if you are interested in arts, do not hesitate to choose this
enchanting island for your Bali Vacation. It also has very nice
beaches, hotels, fabulous nature's views, friendly people and of
course excellent foods. Go online and search your preferred Bali
hotels or contact your reputable travel agent.
Ciao readers, my immense thank to you all.
About the author:
Made Dertha was an English and Italian tour guide for many years
in Bali, writes for Bali Turista Tours where he is the Managing
Director now. Bali Turista is focusing on Bali hotels and villas
reservation. Just visit www.baliturismo.com