Bali is one of thousands of islands constituting the Indonesian Archipelago that has long been renowned as an eminent tourist destination in the South Pacific or even in the World. Many names have been given to this beautiful island, like, 'The Last Paradise on Earth', 'Morning of the World', 'The Island of the Gods', as well as many other names.
The island covers 5,632,86 square kilometres, consisting of mountain ranges stretching from the West tip to Mt. Agung in the East, considered as the holiest by the Balinese, being the highest peak.
The volcanic range divides the island into two parts of plain which are constantly cultivated with rice as the staple crop. About 70% of the whole island is agricultural ground, while another 22% consists of forests and the remaining 8% is left uncultivated. It has for centuries lured visitors from various countries with its exotic and vibrant culture, natural scenic beauty, and friendly smiles of the people.
The stronghold of their traditions and beliefs based on Hinduism, has dotted the island with ancient remains, ornately sculptured temples or holy places and this is most likely the main factor in keeping away any negative outside influence.
To the wide variety of landscapes and marvellous panoramas, the Balinese add their colourful festivals, ritual ceremonies, traditional music and dances and it is no wonder that tourism plays a significant role as a source of income within the national economic development.
As has been mentioned in many articles, Indian influence has been great on all aspects of Balinese culture. That includes architecture. It is evident in the mandala-like groupings of houses in the villages. The Chinese were a major influence on Indonesian culture, but not on architecture, and neither were the Dutch.
The family compound (kuren) is a centre of religious life for the family and is constructed according to traditional rules. It undergoes periodic cleansing rituals. The materials used have to cope with equatorial conditions, which are hot and humid, and heavy monsoon rains. There are wooden or bamboo walls and thatched roofs. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, Java and Bali do not build their houses on stilts.
Traditional Balinese houses, temples, rice barns and other structures are built according to traditional Balinese rules, called Asta Kosala Kosali, written down in lontar palm books and interpreted by traditional architects called Undagi. Balinese architects do not design buildings; they merely interpret the traditional rules.
The roles of architect, builder and client are a phenomenon of an industrialized society. Such classification is unknown in Bali.
MaterialsHousing consists of a series of small constructions. They mostly consist of wooden pillars raised on a masonry base, which support a roof of radiating beam work, covered by thatch, tiles or bamboo. Roofs are crowned by a terracotta finial (ornament).
The buildings are assembled with very few nails. Tools are simple hammers, chisels, saws, axes and a plane. Walls are generally of brick, tuff or other masonry. Posts and beams carry the load of the roof.
Some roofs are still made of alang-alang grass. This thatch, often 45 cm (18 in) thick used to last for up to 50 years. But nowadays it is almost impossible to get good quality alang-alang and ceramic tiled roofs are more common. They are also less of a fire risk.
A patron of arts, Dewa Agung Gusti Sideman took greatness in supervising the design and construction of his palace in Klungkung - an example of Hindu-Balinese architecture. Kertha Gosa architecture took shape of a mandala - a Buddhist influence domed-mountain shape. Mandalas help people further their enlightment; pure forces of good come from a mountain. Kertha Gosa’s first major function pertained to court of law and justice. The Kertha Gosa pavilion was the meeting place for the raja (Hindu prince) and Brahman judges (Kerthas) to discuss issues of law and human affairs. Whether or not the king instructed his court painters to decorate the ceiling at the time Kertha Gosa was built is impossible to know. Moreover, it is impossible to know whether or not the story of Bhima Swarga was the first painting in the pavilion.
The earliest and only record of paintings at Kertha Gosa dates from the year 1842 and is written in a lontar book (a book that holds prayers, history of Bali, and epics)
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Balinese house (kuren) consists of a family or a number of related families living within one enclosure, praying at a common family temple, with one gate and one kitchen. The square plot of land (pekarangan) in which the various units. of the house stand is entirely surrounded by a wall of whitewashed mud, protected from rain erosion by a crude roofing of thatch. The Balinese feel uneasy when they sleep without a wall, as, for instance, the servants must in the unwalled Western-style houses. The gate of a well-to-do family can be an imposing affair of brick and carved stone, but more often it consists of two simple pillars of mud supporting a thick roof of thatch. In front of the gate on either side 'are two small shrines (apit lawang) for offerings, of brick and stone, or merely two little niches excavated in the mud of the gate, while the simplest are made of split bamboo.
Directly behind the ' doorway is a small wall aling aling that screens off.The house of a poor family is called pekarangan, that of a nobleman is a jero and a Brahmana's is a griya, but these differences are mostly in the name, the quality of the materials employed, the workmanship, and of course in the larger -and richer family temple. The fundamental, plan is based on the same rules for everyone.
Only the great palace (puri) of the local ruling. prince is infinitely more elaborate, with a lily pond, compartments for the Radja's brothers and his countless wives, a great temple divided into three courts, and even special sections for the preservation of the corpses and for the seclusion of " impure " palace women during the time of menstruation.