Bali Aga – The Traditional People

Secret Bali | Written By, NOW! BALI |

“Bali Aga – Bali’s traditional people are the island’s original inhabitants. Scattered in tiny hamlets across Karangasem, and parts of the Batur district of Kintamani are many villages where the old ways are still held sacred and respected.” Life goes on slowly attending to the rhythms of the seasons. Rites of passage are celebrated as well as phases of the moon and many other things. The most well-known and easily accessible Bali Aga village is Tenganan, which is just before Candidasa on the east coast. For a donation you are allowed to enter the village and wander around.

Text & Photos by Ayu Sekar

“Bali Aga – Bali’s traditional people are the island’s original inhabitants. Scattered in tiny hamlets across Karangasem, and parts of the Batur district of Kintamani are many villages where the old ways are still held sacred and respected.”

Life goes on slowly attending to the rhythms of the seasons. Rites of passage are celebrated as well as phases of the moon and many other things.

The most well-known and easily accessible Bali Aga village is Tenganan, which is just before Candidasa on the east coast.  For a donation you are allowed to enter the village and wander around.

Outside many of the houses you will see sarongs and other, more unusual textiles fluttering gently in the breeze. Many of these are hand-woven, made right there in the homes. The most famous of these is the double ikat cloth known as Gerinsing. This complex technique is known in only three places in the world – Tenganan, in Japan and in the Gujarat area of Western India.

Both the weft and the warp threads are tied and dyed into complex patterns before they are woven and skilled dyers make sure that the patterns match. Using ancient techniques, it is quite difficult to even understand the technique, let alone attempt to do it oneself. The earthy colours of ox blood red, indigo, creams and blacks are all made using natural dyes and it is a long and laborious process. One piece can take months or even years to produce and the result is unique and distinctive. Needless to say, the best pieces are collectors’ items and it is quite a status symbol to own one.

The most beautiful time to visit Tenganan is during their big month of festivities and feasting which falls between June and July each year.  This Usaba Sambah Festival is the time when the sprawling village is at its best. Girls attend ceremonies dressed in their best finery of antique Gerinsing, and decorated with gold jewellery. Within the protective walls of this ancient village complex lies another world.

One of the most attended of all the events is the Parang Padan or Ma kare kare. Most of the able bodied men in the village attend ready to wreak havoc with bundles of sharp and spiny pandanus leaves. Dressed in sarongs with fabulous wraps around their waist and bare shoulders they take turns to enter the arena, encircled by onlookers, villagers and of course enthusiastic tourists. Up above in the protected area of the Bale Agung, the girls stand behind a rough bamboo fence and watch the proceedings, laughing and clapping with delight when one of their favourites scores a good blow. The idea of the ritual fighting (which can turn into a heated battle with all thoughts of ritual forgotten) is to spill blood – as an offering and appeasement to lurking demons.

The love of the Tenganese for textiles becomes apparent during the festivities. Each person within the traditional concept, translates his sartorial style. Wrapped cloth and its stunning combinations has never been better. Combinations of colours, red selandangs highlight the more subdued colours of the gerinsing. Saputs of fine Lasem silk batik all conspire to look nothing less than fabulous.

Some of the people are completely beautiful and it is such a special place to visit with a happy time for all. Prayers, rituals, pig feasts, and dance, not to  mention the big Ferris wheel like swings that are another ceremony again, all conspire to make Tenganan a special place.!

About Author :

NOW! BALI

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER TO GET THE LATEST UPDATES.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

Leave a Comment