Arts on Bali flourished already centuries ago, even before the warring but artistic Balinese kingdoms of the 16th century. Inscriptions say that already around 1000 AD Bali had puppet masters, poetic singers and musicians. These artistic activities and endeavors were further patronized by the feudal lords and sustained by their religious rituals. Economic stability of the people thanks largely to the success of agriculture gave the Balinese plenty of spare time to practice and develop the arts.
Bali is a relatively small island and was an isolated place for centuries, yet it created delicate, advanced and many varieties of dance and drama forms. There are magical dance-dramas where we can feel the magic as well as the atmosphere of the island, holy dances and dramas which can only be performed in the most sacred part of the temple, dances which display ultimate beauty and charm, grand dance-dramas that is performed by more than one hundred dancers as well as dynamic and powerful dances.
In Bali today we can still find the overwhelming variety of traditional arts, from sculpture to painting, from architecture to music, from singing to dancing, and more important is that we can still find those mentioned arts that pervaded and supported by, what the Balinese call, taksu the divine soul of the arts. Painting as known in the West is not a very old art in Bali.
In the old time the Balinese doing more wood or stone carving than painting. They carved temple gates and walls made of soft stone, temple shrines and buildings made of wood, and sculpted overwhelming forms of statues. Wayang or shadow play tradition is also an important source of the modern painting. For wayang characters the artists drew sketches on leather materials before cutting them. Other factor that have an influence to Balinese painting is the creation of religious offerings, when the Balinese constructed delicate art works from bamboo, woods, leaves, rice, flowers and fruits, one form of arts that more or less comparable to installation art today.
Bali, Gianyar, Ubud. The area surrounding Ubud is lovely and peaceful. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Ubud has become the favorite place for many visitors to Bali. The name Ubud is probably derived from “ubad” which means medicine (“obat” in Indonesian), and to come here may be medicine for people who look for a relaxed way of life and beautiful surroundings. Ubud is built on the slopes of the central mountains. In addition to the town Ubud the area also include several smaller villages like Peliatan, Padangtegal, Penestanan, Campuan and Pengosekan.