BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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ADDITIONAL NOTES

Balinese texts often mention the sad-kahyangan, the six holy national temples, over the significance of which no one agrees. Most important of these is the great Besakih, situated exactly half-way up the slopes of the Gunung Agung. Besakih is Bali's most impressive temple in its austere simplicity and its grandiosity, with hundreds of black merus rising from everywhere to the misty sky and with a single unadorned great gate. Rather than one temple, Besakih is a cluster of temples, one for each of the different Balinese states, and once a year (at the full moon of the " fourth " month), the Radjas of Bali, now the regents, make offerings there for the whole of the Balinese people.

Other temples classed among the sad-kahyangan, some of which are debatable, are: Pura Batukau, near the summit of the mountain of the same name; Ulu Watu, magnificently situated at the edge of a projecting cliff with a perpendicular drop into the sea of 250 feet, on the limestone tableland called Tafelhoek (Bukit Petjatu) (a great festival is held there on the day anggara-klion of the week madang siha, twenty-one days after galunggan); the bathing-temple of Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring; Pura Panataran Sasih in Pedjeng; Pura Sakenan in the island of Serangan; Yeh Djeruk in Gianyar; Giralawa in Klungkung; Pakedukan in Tabanan; Samantiga in Bedulu, and so forth.

Artjas The concept that the spirits can be brought down to earth to be embodied in a receptacle, a stylized human figure or a mask among the primitive animists such as the Africans and Oceanians, appears in Bali in the artja cult. Artjas are generally statuettes of sandalwood, of gold, or of old coins sewn together, always male and female, and often represent Rama and Sita, the reincarnations of Wisnu and Sri.

 

Artjas of ancient Chinese cash, kepeng, with faces and hands of carved wood or gold are called dewa rarnhut sadana and are supposed to bring luck and riches to their owners. Our having acquired an old rambut sadana created considerable disturbance among our neighbours; when our servant first saw it, he asked us excitedly to sell it to him at twice the price paid for it. He told others in the house and they often came asking to see it. Someone even offered to make me a new one since " mine was already falling to pieces." We had to hide it, and it was some time before the matter was forgotten.

The statuettes fit into a base carved like an animal, the " mount " or vehicle of the deities when taken out in procession. Most often these bases are shaped like bulls, deer, or mythical animals, nagas or singhas, but often the mount is a composite animal, as for instance half-bull, halffish, in all probability the ancient totems of the families who own the artjas. There is still a trace of totemism in Bali; people of the ngatewel caste claim descent from a jackfruit tree, and my friend Gusti Oka told me members of his family may not eat singing doves.

That the artjas, when imbued with the spirit of the deity, become highly temperamental was shown at the temple feast of Taman Badung, the death temple of Den Pasar, when about forty of the town's artjas were taken out in procession. Absent was the feminine deity from the Civil temple, who " refused to join in the procession because she was not on good terms with her husband, the artja of Tarnan Badung."

 

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