Central Bali – Gold, Silver, Puppet and Dances

A silver dragon twice encircles the wrist to form a bracelet sold in the village of Celuk.

A centre for gold and silver work. Original designs in delicate filigree give Balinese jewellerly a distinctive appearance.

Although the result are sophiscated, methods of production are primitive. Craftsmen use a tree stump with a protruding metal spike for an anvil, and a munually operated bellows to produce ameltingand forging temperatures. As with most crafts in Bali. Gold and silver smithing is a gereditary trade. Son apprentices begin young, and by the time they are 12 they are already producing exquities ornaments and settings.

After crossing the Oos River, you enter the village of Sukawati, once a important kingdom and centre for Chinese trader during the Dalem dynasty period. A phalanx of shops and a market now conceal the grand Puri Sukawati palace. Behind the palace live some of Bali’s greatest shadoe puppet masters. Sukawati is the undisputed custodian of the Balinese wayang kulit shadow puppet tradition, and a performance by a Sukawati dalang (puppeteer) at a wedding or temple festival is considered a major event.

The views of distant Mt. Agung become more spectacular as one turns the corner into Batuan village just north of Sukawati. Truly gifted in all the arts, the residents of Batuan are best known for their painting and dance. Under the patonage of walter Spies, the Batuan School of the 1930s was the first to produce secular Balinese paintings – semi realistic village scapes and sensitive studies of customed dancers and musicians.

Batuan’s young dancers regularly win the island wide competitions held in Denpasar, and if you are lucky enough to be present during the odalan anniversary rites of the village temple, you are treated to a round robin of superb Baris, Lepong, Arja and Gambuh dances, Topeng mask plays and shadow puppet performances. As many as six music ensembles may play at any given moment, and in the forecourt of the temple, groups of entraced grand mothers go through the mesmerizing mendek ritual used to welcome the gods. It is truly one of the high points of the Balinese festive calendar.

Read Also : Central Bali – Woodcarvers, Dancers and Painters

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