Subak is a traditional system of organizing and distributing water to irrigate farms in Bali. This ancient system has been used for a hundred years and allows every field, from the highest part of the terrain to the lowest, to get sufficient water. In terms of philosophy, Subak is the manifestation of the Balinese concept of living called Tri Hita Karana, which represents the harmonious relationship between humans and God, humans and nature, and between humans…

Text and Photos by Kartika D. Suardana

Subak is a traditional system of organizing and distributing water to irrigate farms in Bali. This ancient system has been used for a hundred years and allows every field, from the highest part of the terrain to the lowest, to get sufficient water. In terms of philosophy, Subak is the manifestation of the Balinese concept of living called Tri Hita Karana, which represents the harmonious relationship between humans and God, humans and nature, and between humans.

Museum Subak, which is located in Sanggulan Village in Tabanan Regency, is the right place to visit if you are interested in finding out more about Bali’s irrigation system. The museum, which is about an hour’s drive west of Seminyak, may not have a particularly attractive exterior, but if you venture inside you will see that the displays are worth a look. It was I Gusti Ketut Kaler, a tradition and religion expert, who initiated the establishment of the museum which was officially opened on 13 October 1981. 

Inside you will find an information centre where some books about Balinese farming are available to peruse and a spacious room displaying various agricultural artifacts. A tall, white Dewi Sri (Goddess of Fertility) statue welcomes visitors at the entrance.  In this clean and well-lit room guests can view a miniature Subak system, a miniature Balinese kitchen as well as some ancient manuscripts, and some traditional farming tools including a rice cutter and a plough.

Wonder outside to marvel at the small Subak construction which starts at a waterfall and ends in a huge lotus pond. The water from the pond flows through a tunnel to tektek (a wooden utensil used to distribute the water), and continues to tembuku (a place to measure the amount of water), and finally reaches the rice field behind the museum. The rice field is maintained by the villagers which is why there are also some temples built around the area. Besides finding out more about subak, also you can visit a miniature Balinese house which is sometimes used by villagers for community activities like making offerings. 

The museum is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm but only until 1pm on Friday. Entry is only Rp.5000. The museum provides an Indonesian-speaking guide who has good knowledge about subak but a translator is needed for English or other languages. 

 

Contacts:

Museum Subak

Jl. Gatot Subroto, Sanggulan Village, 

Tabanan, Bali

P/F. +62-361 810315

 

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