Balinese Art: Breathtaking.

1998 > Indonesia

The undescribable beauty of balinese art is breathtaking.

Of all the times not to look at the graphics!Balinese have no word for art or artist, the beauty that
they produce is considered part of everyday life, nothing special.
Of course, I though it was quite special, actually amazing in most

Even the money is art!

morning there would be an offering outside my hotel room, beautifully
done with palm leaves, flowers, and colored paper. The door to my
hotel was ornately carved, with an amazing dragon on the transom over
the door.

there is organized art in Bali, mainly concerning their religion, that
is surviving quite well under the tourist onslaught. One night I
Aent to a shadow puppet show, done in traditional Balinese style. I
felt Shadow Puppet Show like I was watching the show in an ageless time, that is until the
other tourists started to take flash pictures and ruin the mood. The
story concerned a Hindu fable, and was in sanskrit, but the activity was
enough to keep my MTV attention span riveted to the silk screen.

See how intricate the puppets are, making their
silhouette very expressionate without color or video.

night I went to see a Kecak dance. There are thirty or forty men
in the dance that form a ring around the central performers. The
men spend the entire dance chanting ‘kecak’ while moving in a Kecak Dance
random frenzy. They add an air of surreal to the contrasting
performance of the main dancers who are reserved and coordinated. The
story line to the dance was a bit harder to follow, but none the less, I
was enchanted. Now I know what people did in the days before
computers and the Web.

The young woman is the bride-to-be of the hero in this dance.
At this point the men are acting as soldiers in the monkey army of
her captor.

Even though almost all the spectators of this dance were tourist, the
Balinese still seem to care about their craft. I did notice one
performer leaving just after his part was over, but I think he was the
exception, not the rule. The owner of my hotel was very proud of
the specific dancers I saw. He claims that they are the truest
dance troupe in Bali, not straying from the original dance. That
tells me that the Balinese care about the dance as much as they care
about the tourist dollars.

Their art is not limited to performances either. Living on an
island with plentiful trees and rocks, the Balinese are great sculptors
too. Their wood carvings are world famous, and the beauty they see
in stone amazes me. I am still kicking myself for not buying a
sandalwood Buddha I was offered at the Elephant Cave.
Unfortunately, she was the 10,000th vendor on a long, hot day.

What a View!Earlier
in the day I went to the ‘Mother Temple’ on the side of one of
the mountains on Bali. After a 2km walk up a steep hill, we were
rewarded by an amazing temple. This is the view from the secondary
temple, overlooking the first. Note the stone carving.

Every civilization moves up the hierarchy of needs, from basic
survival, through food and shelter, and on to trying to answer why we
are here. I think the Balinese made it to that last step a long
time ago, and art was their answer. I cannot argue with their
answer after seeing such an intricate and delicate place like Bali.

2 Comments on “Balinese Art: Breathtaking.

  1. Wayan,

    I really like your website. I am from Indonesia, grew up in Jakarta but my parents were from Bali. Well, if you notice that my parents gave me Balinese name reminding me not to forget where I come from. I’m currently in the States, Texas. Been here since 1997, for school of course. I haven’t been home for almost 8 years now, miss it alot!!!
    So, I’ve been trying to look at your pictures of recent Bali and Jakarta, but they’re not showing up in the website. Is there anything wrong with the site? Can you upload them again? Well…I hope you have a good time in Indonesia, especially in Bali.

    Have a good one.


  2. Woops!

    I see I forgot to upload the Balinese photos in the last upgrade of my site. Give me a day and I’ll fix that.