BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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RITES AND FESTIVALS

SOCIETY AND RELIGION

First in importance is the gedong pesimpangan (K), built in the middle of the kangin side, a masonry building closed by wooden doors dedicated to the local deity, the ancestor-founder f the community, often named after the village, as, for in-Lance, in desa Dedap he is called Ratu Dalam Dedapan. Inside ',ere is often a stone phallus (lingga) and, since the building can be locked, there the relics and heirlooms of the temple are also kept: ancient statues of stone , wood, or gold, old bronzes, and so forth.

Most impressive are the merus, high pagodas of wood resting on stone platforms, always with an odd number of superimpose; receding roofs (from three to eleven) made of thick layers of idjuk, the everlasting and costly fibre of the sugar palm. These roofs are arranged along an open shaft through which the gods are supposed to descend into the meru. The temple of Besakih. the greatest in all Bali, on the slopes of the Gunung Agung, consists practically of merus, and other important temples have three, five, seven, or nine merus, but our typical temple has one. built in the principal place, the centre of the kadja side of the courtyard.

The meru is supposed to represent the great cosmic mountain Mahameru and is the seat of the high Hindu gods. A curious feature of merus is the miniature iron implements buried under the building, together with little gold and silveroast chickens, lotus flowers, crabs, shrimps, and so forth. Again. where the rafters of the uppermost roof meet, there is a vertical beam of sandalwood with a bole in which is deposited a small covered Chinese bowl of porcelain containing nine preciou5 stones or nine pripih, plates of various metals inscribed with magic words.

Never missing are two shrines for the great mountains: one for the Gunung Agung (M) and other for the Batur (O) (or for the Batukau in the villages in its neighbourlrood) . They resemble little merus of one roof, also made of idjuk and ending in tall phallic points. Of great importance is the padmasana (L) , the stone throne for the sun-god Surya, which stands invariably in the uppermost right-hand corner of the temple, with its bad directed always towards the Gunung Agung.

The form of the padmasana is again the representation of the cosmos. On a wide platform shaped like the mythical turtle bedawang, with two stone serpents coiled around its body, rest three recedingplatforms, the mountains, the whole surmounted by a stone chair with a high back.

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