The Indonesian region of Bali inherits a rich historical and cultural heritage that stretches back many centuries. Particularly interesting is the local adaptation of Hinduism, which is somewhat different to the religion as it is practiced in India today. Notably it features a strong belief in various spirits which are present in many elements of nature. With influences from naturalism and animism, Bali’s unique religion has shaped its traditions and culture.
Batubulan Village in Bali, Indonesia has acquired the reputation of a renowned artistic village where traditional artistic and dance forms are practiced providing a fascinating insight into the local art forms of the area.
The village is noted for its distinctive sculpture, particularly elaborate door guardian statues which have gained fame for their ornate design and artistic mastery. These picturesque statues were formerly only featured in palaces and temples, but in more recent times have become a feature of homes and public buildings.
The inimitable sculpture of Batubulan primarily is formed of ‘paras’ stone, which is created by volcanic eruption; this material is formed by the resultant turbulent reactions which create it as sediment. This unique grey stone is exceptionally malleable, making it ideal for the production of sculpture.
The skill and mastery of the native sculptors can be observed in the clever combination of Hindu and non-Hindu artistic motifs. The statue of the famed King of East Java Airlangga is a highlight, featuring a remarkable amalgamation of Javan and Balinese sculptural elements. The nearby temple gate depicts some South Indian artistic elements, reflecting the diverse influences shaping the culture and heritage of the region. However there is no doubt that local sculptors were highly skilled, as the masterly artistry of the area projects a sense of individuality rather than plagiarism.
Notably the local people are extremely devoted to their local deity who is said to protect and nurture them. A sacred ‘Barong’ mask is carefully kept inside the temple, and it is said that some of the locals can detect voices emanating from the mask.
The well known Barong dance is indubitably one of the most famous aspects of the village and this age-old ceremonial dance is a great attraction for visitors from distant lands. A Barong dance performance is held daily at the village and in the evenings the Kecak dance, another local tradition is performed.