EXQUISITE ART & CRAFT
Bali has for centuries been subject to many cultural
influences such as Indian, Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist, Javanese and
also western. The richness of creative arts and crafts is the evidence
of the melting culture and traditions.
For centuries, the royal courts of Bali have expressed holy and
chronological authority through art. At that time, artists and craftsmen
worked under the patronage of the priests. The artists were unidentified
and usually living around artist community. The employ of simple
gear and skills has been handed down to the children from the family
Following to the arrival of European artists in the early
20th Century, a fresh method to art, especially painting was introduced.
During that moment, many western artists endorsed art form and contributed
materials to the local Balinese. Prior to this, most Balinese arts
were of religious objects and specially made as a streamer for its
numerous palaces and temples.
The beauty and variety of Balinese paintings have gained the admiration
of the tourists. The island boasts major centers of dramatic art
such as Batuan, Ubud and Pengosekan. Kamasan, near Klungkung is
also the place identical with the traditional form of Balinese paintings.
Previously, the portraits of classic Hindu epics dominated
the form of Balinese paintings. During that period, the painting
was made on langse or ider-ider. Langse is a wide rectangular cloth,
which is used to paint while ider-ider is much narrower. Langse
and ider-ider were used to decorate the temples. Wooden boards were
also material used to paint in the past.
In the early of 20th Century, western artists contributed tremendous
support for the fresh approach in painting. With Ubud as the headquarter,
Walter Spies and Rudolph Bonnet promoted painting as an art appearance
and donated materials to the local Balinese, who began to paint
naturalistic sights reflecting Balinese daily activities and traditions.
Anticipating tourism's negative impact on the quality of art, Ubud
artists established the Pita Maha association in 1930s. The association
tried to make all artists aware of the need to maintain artistic
excellence and to exhibit work outside of Bali.
There are some characteristics of Balinese paintings. Kamasan, as
one of the prime center of art, has its own style. East Javanese
wayang (puppet) art is reflected on most of the paintings. Now,
as the wayang tradition is kept alive, tourists can still discover
people who are dedicated to painting in the customary wayang style.
One of the pioneer in wayang tradition preservation is I Nyoman
Mandra, famous Kamasan artist. Other prime center of art, Batuan,
the artists, such as I Wayan Bendi, Ni Wayan Warti and I Made Budi
often describes a statement about life in Bali, from traditional
village activities to foreigners in Bali. Prior to this generation,
Batuan artist such as Ida Bagus Made Togog and Ida Bagus Made Wija
express their sense of art through the portrayal of supernatural
side of Bali.
Another style, Keliki, has a different type in size. Keliki paintings
are only 20 cm by 15 cm in size. Mythical and characters from Ramayana
epics dominate the scene of the style.
In the direction of Pengosekan, the paintings are more realistic
with natural creatures such as birds, insects and plants featured.
The Ubud style is Bali even
more expressive but of course, the artists still retain traditional
characters. Some of famous Ubud artists are Anak Agung Gede Sobrat,
Gusti Ketut Kobot, Made Sukada, Ida Bagus Made and Dewa Putu Bedil.
In these villages, highly praised local artists live and burgeon.
One of the most famous Balinese artists is I Gusti Nyoman Lempad
(1862-1978), had an extensive range of talents in many media, including
painting, sculpture and architecture. With his extraordinary talent,
Lempad created masterpieces that gained international recognition.
Even some well-established foreign artists have Island
chosen to make these centers their home. They include Antonio Blanco,
Arie Smit, Hans Snel, Le Mayeur and Walter Spice. The existence
of them influenced local artists in that area. The use of flamboyant
colors gave a more expressive nuance in the paintings created by
the next generation Balinese painters such as I Wayan Pugur, I Ketut
Tagen, I Nyoman Londo and Ketut Soki.
Bali is a treasure throve of stone sculptures. The Balinese who
is also very skillful at sculpting and engraving stone, especially
the archetypal volcanic stone of the island, carry on the eternal
tradition of excellent craftsmanship using long-established iconography
passed on from one age group to the next.
Most of the temples in Bali, as well as the public buildings, are
made of fabulously sculpted stone. Sculpted stone statues (normally
sanctified metaphors of the Hindu spiritualities) are used extensively
to embellish section of adoration, but can also be found along the
lanes, on the angles, in the gardens and in the Balinese homes.
The village of Batubulan is the center of stone carving in Bali.
While Celuk, is distinguished by homes and shops producing silver
and gold objects such as rings, bracelets, etc lining the roadside.
Another famous village for its admirable metal craft is Kamasan.
Now, the village of Kamasan is still the midpoint for Balinese courts
arts, producing objects of silver and gold for ritual practice.
Bali maintains a unique tradition for its highly prized woodcarvings
by museums and international collectors. During the monetary crisis,
it has given a tremendous contribution to the economic sector.
The artistic production of woodcarvings is varied from mythological
and legendary carvings to carvings of natural and biological creatures
such as flowers, animals, etc. Balinese woodcarvers are also famous
for their creativity in producing antique furniture. Western touch
also plays a significant role in the development of woodcarving
in Bali, which is now more groundbreaking. Ketut Nongos, I Nyoman
Cokot and Ida Bagus Nyana are among famous name of carvers in Bali.
In Bali, wood ornaments can be found in many Bali's public buildings
and houses. Scenes of mythical and legendary characters decorate
windows, door, and pillars as the objective to prevent evil intruders.
Bali is famed for ornately decorated Topeng (mask), carved soft
wood masks painted and adorned with coconut fiber and used in sacred
temple ritual play. The village of Mas is best known for its intricate
woodcarvings and masks. One example of artistic temple carving is
Pura Puseh (Puseh Temple) in Batuan.
Bali has a rich textile industry. Endek woven is recognized
from its abstract pattern and vivid shade. Many industrial units
in Gianyar carry out unofficial tours to observe the process in
which white threads are passed through a multifaceted dyeing process
into configurations of color.
Tenganan, a small village in the eastern part of Bali is fame for
its infrequent and sole woven, named Geringsing (without sickness).
Balinese considers geringsing, as sanctified textiles and wears
it in numerous main ritual ceremonies such as tooth filing and cremation.
In Bali, many imported textiles from Sumatera, Java, Sumba, Flores
etc can be easily found around Kuta or Legian.