Batuan Village, located about 10km south of Ubud, is famous for its unique paintings. Batuan paintings typically show daily life in the village and a painting comprises of many living and non-living subjects drawn as a flow of activities in a community. These days, the paintings are finished in bright colour combinations. Nowadays the village is also famous for its traditional Gambuh dance performances, which take place at the Pura Puseh Batuan (village temple) on the 1st and the 15th of the month. One day after Nyepi – the day of seclusion- we made our way to Batuan to watch the dance only to find that on this occasion it had been cancelled due to a sacred ceremony called Nyutri.

TEXT & photos by kartika d. suardana

Batuan Village, located about 10km south of Ubud, is famous for its unique paintings. Batuan paintings typically show daily life in the village and a painting comprises of many living and non-living subjects drawn as a flow of activities in a community. These days, the paintings are finished in bright colour combinations.
Nowadays the village is also famous for its traditional Gambuh dance performances, which take place at the Pura Puseh Batuan (village temple) on the 1st and the 15th of the month. One day after Nyepi – the day of seclusion- we made our way to Batuan to watch the dance only to find that on this occasion it had been cancelled due to a sacred ceremony called Nyutri.

The Nyutri ceremony is thought to prevent misfortune and catastrophe and takes place annually for 135 days from sasih kelima (5th month of the Balinese calendar), usually in November, to sasih kesanga (9th month of the Balinese calendar), usually in March. During this period, every day is a ceremony day in the big temples of the village as well as in each family temple. In the afternoon, people arrive at Sanggar Tawang- the temple’s showground- with offerings consisting of fruit and cake. Meanwhile children, teenagers and adults who are assigned to dance prepare at home. This kind of ceremony happens every day until the 135th day, the closing day of the ceremony.

It was the closing day when we were there and a long table was already full with lines of offerings at Sanggar Tawang. It was 6pm and several people had already arrived, some of the women were wearing traditional costumes called Payas Agung. Payas Agung is famous for its extravagant and towering headdress composed of gold flowers. The ceremony began with prayer before people emptied the middle part of the area to make way for the senior gentlemen and ladies who lined up with those at the front carrying offerings, holy water and other sacred things. As the music began, they started to walk onward while dancing. The motions were very slow and they danced as if their souls were not attached to their bodies.

After a while they formed a circle and performed a much faster routine – perhaps a signal that the dance was about to end. When they had finally finished, they all sat on the ground and prayed. Then we discovered that the performance wasn’t quite finished as the dancers lined up at the back of the stage. The dance began again but this time they danced empty handed. Those dressed in Payas Agung queued behind the elders. The older group was a mix of men and women, meanwhile the young group was composed only of girls. One of the dancers told me that menstruating women are not permitted to perform but those who do take part in the dance are performing a sacred service. When the dance finished, everyone went down on their knees to pray. Finally, the offerings of fruit and cake were distributed amongst the people by the elders.!

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Kartika D. Suardana

GWK
Royal Purnama
BALI WAKE PARK

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