Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
must know the movements that each performer uses so that the character
can be shown by the mask.
Other masks, such as the Barong and Rangda, are brightly painted and
decorated with real hair, enormous teeth and bulging eyes. Mas is recognised
as the mask-carving centre of Bali, followed by the small village of Puaya,
near Sukawati. The Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali in Denpasar (p168) has
an extensive mask collection and is a great place to get an idea of different
styles before buying anything.
You'll find many jewellery workshops in areas around Ubud. Tam-
paksiring, northeast of Ubud, has long been a centre for cheaper styles of
fashion jewellery. Brightly painted, carved wooden earrings are popular and
Often with an ornate, jewel-studded handle and sinister-looking wavy blade,
the kris is the traditional and ceremonial dagger of Bali and other parts of
Indonesia. A kris can be the most important of family heirlooms, a symbol
of prestige and honour. It is supposed to have great spiritual power, send-
ing out magical energy waves and thus requiring great care in its handling
and use.
Traditionally for the adornment of temples, stone sculptures haven't been
affected by foreign influences, mainly because your average stone statue isn't
a convenient souvenir. Stone carving is also Bali's most durable art form.
Though it is soon covered in moss, mould or lichen, it doesn't deteriorate
in the humid atmosphere.
Stone carving appears in set places in temples. Door guardians are usually
a protective personality such as Arjuna. Above the main entrance, Kala's
monstrous face often peers out, his hands reaching out beside his head to
catch any evil spirits. The side walls of a pura dalem (temple of the dead)
might feature sculpted panels that show the horrors that await evildoers in
the afterlife.
Even when decorating a modern building, stone carvers tend to stick
to the tried and trusted - patterned friezes, floral decoration or bas-reliefs
depicting scenes from the Ramayana . Nevertheless, modern trends can
be seen and many sculptors are happy to work on nontraditional themes,
such as Japanese-style stone lanterns or McDonalds' characters outside its
Kuta store.
Much of the local work is made from a soft, grey volcanic stone called
paras . It's a little like pumice, and so soft it can be scratched with a fingernail.
When newly worked, it can be mistaken for cast cement, but with age, the
outer surface becomes tougher and darker. Soft sandstone is also used, and
sometimes has attractive colouring. Because the stone is light it's possible to
bring a friendly stone demon back in your airline baggage. A typical temple
door guardian weighs around 10 kg.
Batubulan (p172), on the main highway from South Bali to Ubud, is a
major stone-carving centre. Stone figures from 25cm to 2m tall line both
sides of the road, and stone carvers can be seen in action in the many
Trees have a spiritual
and religious significance
in Bali. The banyan is
the holiest; creepers that
drop from its branches
take root, thus it is
To see potters at work, visit Ubung and Kapal, north and west of Denpasar,
respectively. Nearly all local pottery is made from low-fired terracotta.
Most styles are very ornate, even functional items such as vases, flasks, ash-
trays and lamp bases. Pejaten (p276), near Tabanan, also has a number of
workshops producing small ceramic figures and glazed ornamental roof tiles.
Some excellent, contemporary glazed ceramics are produced in Jimbaran,
south of Kuta.
Earthenware pots have been produced on Lombok for centuries. They
are shaped by hand, coated with a slurry of clay or ash to enhance the fin-
ish, and fired in a simple kiln filled with burning rice stalks. Pots are often
finished with a covering of woven cane for decoration and extra strength.
Newer designs feature bright colours and elaborate decorations. Penujak,
Banyumulek and Masbagik are some of the main pottery villages, or head
towards Mataram to visit the Lombok Pottery Centre (p290).
Lombok is noted for its spiral-woven rattan basketware; bags made of
lontar or split bamboo; small boxes made of woven grass; plaited rattan mats;
and decorative boxes of palm leaves shaped like rice barns and decorated
with shells. Kotaraja and Loyok (p321) are noted for fine basketware, while
Rungkang, near Loyok, combines pottery and basketware. Sayang is known
for palm-leaf boxes.
Treasures of Bali by
Richard Mann is a
beautifully illustrated
guide to Bali's museums
big and small.
Bali is a major producer of jewellery and produces variations on currently
fashionable designs. Very fine filigree work is a Balinese speciality, as is the
use of tiny spots of silver to form a decorative texture - this is a very skilled
technique, as the heat must be perfectly controlled to weld the delicate details
onto the underlying silver without damaging it. Balinese work is nearly always
handmade, rarely involving casting techniques. Most silver is imported,
though some is mined near Singaraja in northern Bali.
Celuk (p205) has always been associated with silversmithing. To see the
'real' Celuk, visit family workshops north and east of the main road. Other
silverwork centres include Kamasan, near Semarapura in eastern Bali, and
Beratan, south of Singaraja in northern Bali.
A carefully selected list of
topics about art, culture
and Balinese writers,
dancers and musicians
can be found at www
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