The Gelungan Payas Agung is a stunning crown: it is the piece de resistance of the formal Balinese ceremonial attire, which is also known as payas agung. This striking outfit is most commonly used for Balinese weddings, though is also used during other important ceremonies, namely the metatah (or mepandes) tooth filing ceremony or the mungga deha coming of age ceremony.

Two people wear the Gelungan Payas Agung

Once reserved for royalty, this formal ritual attire has become widespread and is used among all castes in the Balinese Hindu social strata. 

Of course, it is the gelungan payas agung, the crown, that is truly eye-catching. Towering up to 40cm, this golden structure is symbolic of Mount Agung, overgrowing with thriving flora and abundance. Delicate golden flowers (sandat emas) make up most of the symmetrical headdress, which can weigh up to 3 to 4 kilograms. Attachments include the central ‘petitis’ with its jewelled band and pointed wings attached at the front; and also the bunga kap emas, the golden flower tip. 

But that’s not all! Behind the crown, the woman’s hair is prepared especially for the headdress: the hair is tied into a bun and fresh red roses along with white and yellow cempaka flowers are pinned, creating a stunning and vibrant floral arrangement. 

An entire outfit complements the wearing of the Gelungan payas agung. The bride wears a long tapih fabric from chest down to her feet; her upper body is further covered with a songket or prada fabric; and a songket or prada kamben around her waist. She is then adorned with golden jewellery, from the traditional earrings (subeng/cerorot), a golden shoulder-piece (badong), golden armbands (gelang kane), a golden belt worn at the centre of her torso (pending) and a golden bracelet (gelang nagasatru). 

This is indeed quite a weight to bear for women, though one cannot deny how elegant they look when donning this regal attire. Men will wear a similarly styled outfit, with the addition of a handsome keris dagger, bedazzled with jewels. 

Edward Speirs

Edward Speirs

Edward, or Eddy as he prefers to be called, is the Managing Editor of NOW! Bali and host of the NOW! Bali Podcast. He enjoys photography, rural travel and loves that his work introduces him to people from all walks of life.