Sabtu, 07 Maret 2009

Bali Villages


The village in Bali is the most unique village. If we have enough time to visit villages located away of the city, we will find out the real Balinese village. As soon as we enter the traditional village of Bali, on the right and left hands we will see vast green rice fields. The birds are flying over while pathways cross the rice of farmers.

On top of the village, it will be found village temple and yard for villagers to mebakti ( pray) and worshipping every purnama (full moon), tilem (death moon) and kajeng kliwon. Once in six months, there is a ceremony where the villagers go out of their houses wearing traditional clothes, bring offerings and dedicate pujawali (ceremony).

On the end of the village, it is always being there a pura dalem (inside temple) and pura prajapati with the village's grave on the next. In this grave, the dying villagers are burred and cremated in ceremonial ritual, Ngaben.

The most interesting thing is that in the middle of the village, there is a bale banjar, a wantilan (building), a place for the villagers to gather together, have a discussion of any aspects of life, from piodalan (ceremony), cremation, agriculture, managing subak (traditional irrigation system) to selection of village leader. From this banjar the villagers take decision autonomously known as desa mawacara.

Gate House

If we walk around and enter villagers' houses, there are angkul-angkul (gate house) with the yard which is often cultivated with bunga jepun (frangipani) or sometimes nyuh gading (yellow coconut). The street splitting the village is very beautiful. There are many traditional villages having such kind of street in Bali, like Penglipuran Village, Tenganan Village and Sembiran Village or Sukawati Village.

Village Temple

Banjar is the smallest unit of village as place of villagers to gather together, to socialize and to interact with each other. Though banjar is the smallest part of area in Bali, however the structure is not clear, which one is formed firstly, village or banjar (sub-village). But the obvious thing is that banjar is a place for people to discuss their mutual interest called sangkep or parum (meeting).For most villagers in Bali, banjar is a place for value transformation of Hindu Bali society. Most of social activities are conducted at banjar.

It is not surprising anymore if we see the villagers learn playing gamelan, ngigel (dancing) and even metajen ( gambling or cock fighting) as well as masliahan ( relaxing).

Some people said that the term of banjar is derived from banjah meaning open and spread out called bebanjaran or parallel. The articulation of the word provides meaning that banjar respects its community by placing them on the same right and obligation for krama (all members) of the banjar itself.

The members of banjar can be divided into krama desa tua or brahmacari (unmarried members), krama pengarep or grehasta (main members), krama penyada, the members who are freed from duties as members and krama penglingsir (old members).

Cremation Ritual

The other thing that is necessary to be paid attention is the establishment of bale kulkul (wooden bell tower) in every banjar building. Kulkul is a big bell made of wood to give information to the members of banjar.

Banjar as if a center of activity for Balinese people in ngambel (running their customs). Even, is the indicator of self image for Balinese in expressing their social attitude and friendship they have. Therefore it is not surprising if there are members of banjar being kasepekang (isolated). That's why, banjar is a traveling magnet, if we really want to explore Bali.

There are various kinds of buildings in Bali, and one known to all is the umah (a building in which you live). For the Balinese umah doesn't mean one building.The building itself consists of several bales. One umah consists of several bales which occupy the entire plot of land on which the house is built.

The proportioning of an umah is called karang sikut satak. That is, a single plot of land which measures 14 x 13 depa, one depa being equal to the length between the two hands of an adult man when he stretches them.

This karang sikut satak is divided into three parts. The division is based on the concept of tn mandala, which divides a plot of land into zone utama, madya, and nista. Zone utama is for "parahyangan" a place where the family pray, zone madya is for "pawongan" - a place where members of the family do their daily activities, and zone nista is for "palemahan" a place for animals, cages, plants etc.

Around the umah are built confining walls with 4 paduraksas, pillars on the walls having four angles. The names of each angle are sri raksa, aji raksa, rudra raksa, and kala raksa. The entrance to the yard of the umah is called angkul-angkul. The simplest angkul-angkul is called lelengen and the most complicated is called bintang aring and kori/gelung kori.


After you enter the angkul-angkul, you will see a wall called aling-aling facing you. Aling-aling is a wall which limits and at the same time guides so as to prevent people from viewing from and into the yard (natah of the house through angkul-angkul).

Natah is an open space in the middle of the house. The Balinese's activities, including all kinds of ceremonies, take place here. Another place where they can do their religious activities is the sanggah (a place of worship for family) with its several pelinggih (holy buildings). While a place of worship at a parahyangan is called a sanggah, at a pawongan it is called a pelangkiran (a place of worship for each bale), and at a palemahan it is called a penunggun karang.

The number of bales in one umah varies according to the concepts of desa, kala, patra (place, time, situation) and desa mawa cara (local customs/traditions). However, in general there are four to six units of bale, the names of each being based on their position or the direction of compass such as the bale daja (balai in the north), bale dangin (balai in the east), bale delod (balai in the south), and bale dauh (balai in the west).

The naming of a bale is also based on the typology of the building. The simplest bale daja is called meten. The meten. The meten which has a veranda with four pillars in front is called meten bandung. If another four pillars are added in front as if it looks like a two-floored veranda, then it is called meten gunung rata.

The same applies to the bale dangin which is based on the number of its pillars : bale dangin sakaenam ( six pillars), sakakutus (eight pillars), and sakaroras (twelve pillars).

Bell Tower

A bale delod is not so common in Bali. At the puri (In the past a house for kings), the bale delod is known as the bale sumanggen or bale mundak, and the bale dangin is called bale singasari.

Other building which form traditional Balinese houses are the paon (kitchen) and jineng (rice barn). The interesting thing about the paon is its shape which is called kong kampiah. The shape enables the air and the sun's rays to flow freely into the kitchen.

A topo (a big container which is made of sedimentary rocks) to keep water in is usually put in front of the paon. Based on its typology, a jineng is often given different names : kelumpu, gelebeg and kelingking. Next to the jineng are the lesung and alu (mortar/rice pastle for pounding race).

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