'Upon the hundreds of stone altars of Bali,' wrote Margaret Mead more than eighty years ago, 'there lay not merely a fruit and a flower, placed as visible offering to the many gods, but hundreds of finely wrought and elaborately conceived offerings made of palm leaf and flowers, twisted, folded, stitched, embroidered, brocaded into myriad traditional forms and fancies.
There were flowers made of sugar and combined into representations of the rainbow, and swords and spears cut from the snow-white fat of sacrificial pigs.
The whole world was patterned, from the hillsides elaborately terraced to give the maximum rice yield, to the air which was shot through with music, the temple gates festooned with temporary palm-leaf arras over their permanent carved facade, to the crowds of people who, as they lounged, watching an opera or clustered around two fighting cocks, composed themselves into a frieze....Their lives were packed in intricate and formal delights.'
A tiny island in the Indonesian archipelago, surrounded by powerful neighbours, Bali reverberates in the public imagination to an extent far greater than its size might indicate. Indeed, it is one of the most well-known places in Southeast Asia-long celebrated as an exotic locale and a honeymoon paradise-although many know very little about why it gained this reputation.
"Bali is not harmonious, homogenous, and static," Balinese scholar Degung Santikarma has written. "It is-and had long been-the home of many competing strands of thought and many different ways of being Balinese. It is an ever changing mosaic, shifting its design to meet new ideas imported from outside, whether they be the Chinese-derived barong figure, or the old Chinese pis bolong coins used in offerings, or the Harley Davidsons and heavy metal that make up today's youth culture."
This catalogue explores elements of the cultural lives of the Balinese, focusing on the intersections of art, ritual, and performance. Starting from close examination of one hundred thirty exceptional objects drawn from international museum collections, the authors shed light on the ways that art, ritual, and performance interrelate within the seamless fabric of Balinese life.
Format: Paperback with Flaps on Inside & Back Covers
Number Of Pages: 359
Published: 1st January 2010
Dimensions (cm): 30.5 x 25.5 x 03.00