Jegog Bamboo

Bamboo is one commodity that plays an important role in balinese life, from being used to build a house, weaved into a roof or basket, used as the pole to make penjor – a special decoration erected in front of the house during galungan and kuningan holy celebrations – and also transformed into a set

Kartika D. Suardana

The Big Odalan

It started off sunnily enough. A few of us were invited for the last day of a month long house Piodalan Mempedem Perdagingan Festival – a festival that encompassed the whole extended family as well as the entire village. This celebration was a big one – and the last time it happened was a very

Behind Closed Doors of Top Balinese Artist Studios

Personally, I’m always captivated by the topic of Balinese painters and their palettes. From the first time I visited a painter’s studio years ago, I have been floored by the variety of materials these artists use, and have also been seduced by the allure of their creative spaces. To me, looking into an artist’s studio

Century Old Ceremonies

We’re sure you already know that Balinese culture and beliefs date back centuries. Religion is inseparable from everyday life, from simple daily rituals to grand temple festivals. No opportunity is lost to worship their gods in an unending series of ceremonies; mantras are chanted endlessly. Barong Procession in Baturiti In Baturiti, one of Bali’s most

The Release of the Aborted Foetus’ Soul

One of the best ways to learn about different cultures is by looking at how they deal with death; i.e. how they dispose of people’s corpses and what status and attention they give, if any, to the latter’s soul. In Bali, death is dealt with in such a way so as not only to get

The Closing

Ngusaba Sambah may the biggest series of rite of passage ceremonies held by the community of Tenganan Dauh Tukad Village in the Karangasem Regency of East Bali. The month-long event, which consists of several unique ceremonies, including banana and pandan wars, is organised solely by the village members. These sacred ceremonies are meant to mark the

Riding The Bull– Bali Style

Have you ever been to a place where teams of tame buffaloes (kerbau pepadu) are dressed up like kings or lions and raced around a dirt track pulling highly decorative little carts? These carts bear jockeys. The brave jockeys stand up like heroes and push their charges to greater speeds. The less brave sit down

Balinese Dogs

Have you ever seen a Balinese dog? I am sure you must have. These small, ugly animals are everywhere. They lurk in every corner in groups of four or five, peering at you in defiance with their small beady eyes, their tails jigging in the air. If you are, like myself, a white-skinned Caucasian, they

An Evening at Pura Dalem Ubud

After finishing a photo shoot on the outskirts of Ubud one afternoon, I decided to pay a visit to the heart of the town. It was dark when I arrived and I was lacking in ideas for what to do apart from dinner when a boy approached me selling tickets to dance performances. Out of

Cendrawasih : Beauty of a bird of Paradise

I’ve watched the Cendrawasih dance several times now. Even though each performance features different dancers on a different stage, it is always captivating. The Cendrawasih dance is neither classical nor sacred in Bali; rather it is a relatively new dance with choreography inspired by classical dance routines. The last time I watched this dance was

Jean Couteau – Our Very Own Historian

It was early 2009 when I first met Jean Couteau at an editorial meeting. The Frenchman, who speaks Bahasa Indonesia fluently, arrived in white trousers and a long sleeved white shirt. He spoke extensively about Balinese traditions and cultures and how we should raise awareness of this rather than always the island’s sun, sea and

Ngelawang: The Door-to-Door Ceremony

Galungan and Kuningan, the two big holy days of the Balinese Hindus, are celebrated in a very special way. Galungan always takes place on the Wednesday the week before Kuningan. Various processions, such as Penampahan which is characterized by women preparing offerings and men decorating temples, are held before Galungan. Meanwhile Kuningan is always on

When The Balinese Go to The Sea

The Balinese have an ambiguous attitude toward the sea. The sea opens to the exterior world and is therefore threatening and promising at once. Deadly grubug (diseases) arrive from the sea, sent to the island, as people say, by the evil king Jero Gede Mecaling. All around the island’s coast are small altars from which

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