Central Bali – Woodcarves, Dancers and Painters

After omni talented Batuan, villages once again become more specialized. The Rajas of old,

Who orchestrated village activities, seem to have parcelled out artistic responsibility like today’s corporate bosses – with each village as a seperate subdivision of the corporation.

For historical reason, the village of Mas is an almost exclusively Brahman enclave, the order of its town planning and the exquisiteness of its inhabitants . it is a village of master carves. In formertimes, woodcarves worked only on religious or royal project, but now they also produce decorative and “art” works for export. The village’s most famous carver was Ida Bagus Nyana, whose visionary modernist sculptures of the 1940s – ethereal maidens with twisted torsoes – are now on display in the vast gallery of his son, Ida Bagus Tilem, himself a talented carver. Father north is the gallery of Ida Bagus Anom, whose expressive topeng masks are much sought after by the island’s 100 or so topeng dance troupes.

The quiet billage of Pengosekan is known for this its Community of artists, a painter’s cooperative founded in 1969 by Dewa Nyoman Batuan. Aided by ideas and sponsors from abroad, and taking their inspiration from nature and day to day life, the artists have moved, like the English school of William Morris, from the decorative the industrial arts – doing a booming trade not only in paintings but also in screens, kitchenware and umbrellast, two metres (six feet) across, decorated with painted scenes from  the Ramayana. The founder’s brother, Dewa Mokoh, has developed a wide following on account of his beautifully simple depictions of Balinese flora and fauna.

On the threshold of Ubud, the village of Peliatan is the home of an especially active  dance troupe and its semar pegulingan orchestra. In 1953, in preparation for a tour of Europe and America (organized following the troupe’s cameo apprearence in the Lamar Hope Crosby film, Road to Bali), the great choreographer and dance Mario creeated the Oleg dance specifically for Peliatan’s tiny star, Gusti Ayu Raka. She subsequently took Paris by storm, and a famous photograph shows the troupe at the President’s Palace, with Raka looking for all thw world like Eloise at the Ritz.

The village Puri (palace) continues the tradition of fine performing arts, with private dance lessosn for aspirants from the age of five under the direction of A.A. Mandera. It is delightful to watch a graceful legong teacher glide through the formations of the dance, trailed by a bevy of young girls, who strain intently to imitate here very movement.

–> Read Also : Central Bali – Ubud

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