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The Semi-Regular Newsletter


Indonesia, February 9, 1998

Balinese Art: Breathtaking.

The undescribable beauty of balinese art is breathtaking.

Of all the times not to look at the graphics!Balinese have no word for art or artist, the beauty that they produce is considered part of everyday life, nothing special. Of course, I though it was quite special, actually amazing in most cases.

Even the money is art!

Every morning there would be an offering outside my hotel room, beautifully done with palm leaves, flowers, and colored paper. The door to my hotel was ornately carved, with an amazing dragon on the transom over the door.

Now there is organized art in Bali, mainly concerning their religion, that is surviving quite well under the tourist onslaught. One night I Aent to a shadow puppet show, done in traditional Balinese style. I felt Shadow Puppet Show like I was watching the show in an ageless time, that is until the other tourists started to take flash pictures and ruin the mood. The story concerned a Hindu fable, and was in sanskrit, but the activity was enough to keep my MTV attention span riveted to the silk screen.

See how intricate the puppets are, making their silhouette very expressionate without color or video.

Another night I went to see a Kecak dance. There are thirty or forty men in the dance that form a ring around the central performers. The men spend the entire dance chanting 'kecak' while moving in a Kecak Dance random frenzy. They add an air of surreal to the contrasting performance of the main dancers who are reserved and coordinated. The story line to the dance was a bit harder to follow, but none the less, I was enchanted. Now I know what people did in the days before computers and the Web.

The young woman is the bride-to-be of the hero in this dance. At this point the men are acting as soldiers in the monkey army of her captor.

Even though almost all the spectators of this dance were tourist, the Balinese still seem to care about their craft. I did notice one performer leaving just after his part was over, but I think he was the exception, not the rule. The owner of my hotel was very proud of the specific dancers I saw. He claims that they are the truest dance troupe in Bali, not straying from the original dance. That tells me that the Balinese care about the dance as much as they care about the tourist dollars.

Their art is not limited to performances either. Living on an island with plentiful trees and rocks, the Balinese are great sculptors too. Their wood carvings are world famous, and the beauty they see in stone amazes me. I am still kicking myself for not buying a sandalwood Buddha I was offered at the Elephant Cave. Unfortunately, she was the 10,000th vendor on a long, hot day.

What a View!Earlier in the day I went to the 'Mother Temple' on the side of one of the mountains on Bali. After a 2km walk up a steep hill, we were rewarded by an amazing temple. This is the view from the secondary temple, overlooking the first. Note the stone carving.

Every civilization moves up the hierarchy of needs, from basic survival, through food and shelter, and on to trying to answer why we are here. I think the Balinese made it to that last step a long time ago, and art was their answer. I cannot argue with their answer after seeing such an intricate and delicate place like Bali.

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I really like your website. I am from Indonesia, grew up in Jakarta but my parents were from Bali. Well, if you notice that my parents gave me Balinese name reminding me not to forget where I come from. I'm currently in the States, Texas. Been here since 1997, for school of course. I haven't been home for almost 8 years now, miss it alot!!!
So, I've been trying to look at your pictures of recent Bali and Jakarta, but they're not showing up in the website. Is there anything wrong with the site? Can you upload them again? Well...I hope you have a good time in Indonesia, especially in Bali.

Have a good one.



I see I forgot to upload the Balinese photos in the last upgrade of my site. Give me a day and I'll fix that.

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