Balinese Arts & Crafts - A Cultural Experience

August 11, 2017

Balinese Arts & Crafts
A Cultural Experience

Aside to its stunning beaches, Bali Island is also known for its mesmerizing and intriguing arts and culture. In this issue, we want to highlight the different types of Balinese art that you can find as you travel around the island. You'll probably come across unique and interesting pieces from the minute you land in the airport, at your hotel or villa and even in public spaces.

Photo by: Wonderful Indonesia

Balinese art is well-known around the world for its unique signature style. If you can find stunning beaches in South Bali, then Central Bali is home for Balinese arts including paintings, wood carvings, and stone carvings, dance and performances that will enthral and entice any world traveller and collector. 

Balinese Paintings

Photo by: Gede Pino

Until the start of the 20th century, the dominant form of painting was the portrayal of Hindu epics by painters and illustrators called ‘Sangging’. Aside from making large representational paintings, the ‘Sangging’ were expected to decorate everything from gourds, wooden altars, bamboo vessels, headboards for princely bed chambers and, in particular, they were expected to illustrate astrological wall hangings on bark paper or cloth.

It wasn’t until the early 1900s that western influences reached Bali. The use of Asian symbols in the works of, among others, Paul Gauguin, Toulouse Lautrec and Camille Pissaro, created a new trend for Asian-influenced art and for European painters to move to Bali. Ubud’s fame regarding art can be traced to the arrival of the German painter Walter Spies and the Dutch Rudolf Bonnet. There is a much wider range of artistic styles today.

Stone Carvings

Photo by: Tennyson

Stone carvings were mainly used to decorate temples and palaces. There is little difference between the iconography decorating temples and that of private buildings. Gateways represent the dividing line between the inner and outer worlds and as such are the recipients of some of the most fantastic carvings. Bali’s modern-day centre of stone carving is the village of Batubulan, situated halfway between the towns of Denpasar and Ubud.

Balinese Textiles

Photo by: Bali Tourism Board

One of the most striking things about Bali is the rich variety of cloths and materials that are to be seen in thousands of shops throughout the island. However, only a small proportion of these are indigenous to Bali. The myriad of batik clothes and sarongs available everywhere, are mainly imported from Java. Bali does have a very rich textile industry of its own. The beautiful Songket fabrics, worn by performers of traditional dances, are a good example. In Songket gold and silver threads are woven into the cloth to create complex motifs of birds, butterflies and flowers.

Endek, or weft ikat, is another common method used in Bali. In weft ikat weaving, the weft threads are dyed to create the design and are then woven with plain warp threads.

The least common form of weaving to be seen in Bali is the Geringsing, or double-ikat, and it is perhaps the most sought after. In Geringsing both the warp and weft threads are dyed to their final designs before being woven together. With the exception of certain areas in India and Japan, this weaving technique can only be found in the small Bali Aga village of Tenganan, East Bali.

Balinese Wood Carving

Photo by: Xplorea

Wood and stone carvings have traditionally been featured largely in temple and palace architecture. Immaculately carved demons and mythical beings decorate pillars, door panels, lintels and window shutters with the object of protecting the buildings from evil intruders. Scenes of legendary figures placed within a floral décor, set a more pleasant and educational tone. With the arrival of European influences, wood carving started to develop a long more innovative and commercial lines. Today, whole villages specialise in producing certain styles of work. The village of Mas, near Ubud, is the best known for its carvings of female figures, Buddhas, characters from Hindu epics, the traditional topeng (mask) and Wayang Wong masks.

Recommended Stays

Ubud is well known as Bali's cultural epicentre. On your next trip to Bali, do head to Ubud if you're looking for beautiful Balinese arts and crafts. Here are some recommended places to stay for your consideration:

1. Alaya Resort Ubud

With 105 rooms, Alaya Resort Ubud is a sanctuary of serenity and sophistication in the heart of culturally charged Ubud. Built with rare sensitivity towards the surrounding environment, the resort was designed by Perth-based architects Grounds Kent, an award-winning firm responsible for numerous culturally unique resort projects worldwide.

Nestled amid fragrant rice fields, Alaya Resort Ubud is ideal for taking time out to enjoy quality relaxation in a stylish environment surrounded by natural beauty, an artistic destination that meets the needs of the international traveller. There are myriad facilities for your pleasure including Manisan Bali, Petani Restaurant, Dala Spa, a Wedding Pavillion that is a 350-year old Joglo, two swimming pools, Bamboo Bar, a gym and a business centre. www.alayahotels.com

2. Kayumanis Ubud Private Villas & Spa

A discreet, intimate hideaway in the heart of Bali’s mystical Ubud, this haven is situated overlooking a tropical forest and the gently flowing Ayung River. The ideal choice for those seeking a personal get-away and complete privacy, Kayumanis Ubud Private Villas & Spa offers 23 themed villas, each an exclusive enclave of serenity and comfort. Kayumanis Ubud Private Villas & Spa does not accommodate children below 12 years old. www.kayumanis.com

3. SenS Hotel & Spa + Conference Ubud Town Centre

A welcoming haven in the heart of Bali’s historical, cultural and artistic capital, the hotel is the perfect combination of comfort and convenience in a contemporary and spacious establishment. Located in the centre of Peliatan Village, it is within walking distance to some of Ubud’s most iconic attractions; it is also the only hotel in Ubud to provide complete, state-of- the-art MICE facilities as well as all-day dining, gym and spa facilities. www.senshotelsresorts.com

4. Desa Visesa Ubud

Desa Visesa Ubud is a culturally inspired property designed to capture the essence of a Balinese village and satisfy curiosity about daily life on the island. The resort provides a unique opportunity to connect with a wealth of Balinese rituals and heritage. Located in a scenic area said to have a unique holistic energy, Visesa Ubud is a resort of choice for meditation, spiritual retreats and healing senses. Privileged sanctuary exuding stillness and balance, Visesa is a sacred place where traditional Balinese ceremonies and real daily life are celebrated. www.visesaubud.com

Well, those are some information about Balinese Art in Central Bali. We hope you've found this post useful! Do share with your family and friends and your holiday snaps, stories and videos with us. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and tag us for a chance to be featured!