The Island Of Bali, Indonesia




These villages in the least our going in and out of the temples, we started visiting them systematically, looking for unusual statues or reliefs, and although from the beginning we received the impression that there were not two temples exactly alike, we became aware that there were features common to all; unlike the forbidding, sombre temples of other Oriental countries, the Balinese temple is a gay, open-air affair; one, two, or three open courtyards surrounded by a low wall, each court leading into the next through more or less elaborate stone gates, and with a number of empty sheds, pavilions, and shrines in varied styles, the majority covered with thatch, some with only one roof, others with as many as eleven superimposed roofs like pagodas.

There were no soot-blackened rooms filled with incense smoke for mysterious rites performed in front of great idols; as a matter of fact, there were no idols at all worshipped in any of the hundreds of Balinese temples we visited. In many there were ancient statues from former times, together with many shapeless stones kept as amulets by the community, which, because of their antiquity or because they were found in extraordinary circumstances, came to be regarded as gifts of the gods, or as their name (peturun) indicates, as heirlooms from their ancestors. The gods are invisible and impalpable and in all Bali there is not an image of a Hindu deity worshipped for the sake of its representation. Most often not even the priests in charge were aware of the names of the divinities represented.

Our interest in temples grew when we tried to understand the rules that dictated their intriguing design, but the first attempts left us only more confused than before. Explanations by the pemangkus, the temple-keepers, did not agree and the discrepancies were often greater than the points of agreement. With Spies I started into a more systematic search; we went into a temple, sought the pemangku, and drew a plan in which the names and purposes of each unit were indicated.

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Seminyak Bali Private Villa