Batuan an ancient village in central Bali is primarily recognized as the home of the Batuan style of painting that came into prominence in the 1930s when a group of villagers tried out a method of painting involving ink washed paintings with black backgrounds. Although the artists of Batuan switched to acrylics and gouache soon afterwards, the style of painting remained the same. The themes revolve around village life and what affects them rather than drawing on themes from outside. Although a certain stylization is evident in the renderings, a great deal of detail and ornamentation is characteristic of the paintings. Batuan style miniatures executed painstakingly and in great detail are also much admired.
The Pita Maha group of Batuan painters adopted different themes based on Buddhist mythology. The paintings show an elegance and exuberance reminiscent of the Wayan style of painting. It is said that every house in Batuan is engaged in turning out art works. Whatever the truth, the village is now overrun with art galleries selling expensive paintings that include both traditional Batuan artworks and contemporary paintings.
Batuan village itself presents a pretty picture with streams flowing through it, wooded hills and terraced green paddy fields. Its history goes back several millennia and as a result the village has some interesting historical landmarks. Pura Puseh the village temple dating from the 11th century is one of them. An inscription from 1022 AD found here is said to be the founding date of Batuan. The temple features an elaborately decorated main structure surrounded by several traditional black palm thatched buildings. Stone carvings of ferocious masks, garudas, Hindu gods and other animals are prominent here. Gilt split gates serve as entrances to a statue filled courtyard and to the inner precinct of the temple. Among other antiquities in the village is a 150 year old traditional Balinese house complete with plaited bamboo door, thatched roof and kitchen utensils.
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