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Gianyar is the very heart of Bali - a modern and prosperous center of the arts with a history dating back a thousand years. Most of the cultural activities relating to tourism on the island - from painting and woodcarving to dance and music - are focused here, as is a broad range of agricultural activities.
Gianyar is the second most densely populated district of Bali (after Badung), with the majority of its 340,000 people relying upon tourism for their income. Nevertheless, the region is quite diverse, economically as well as geographically. The old harbors of Ketewel and Kramas down on the coast are still fishing villages, while up in the mountainous plateau above Ubud, vanilla, coffee and cloves are grown. The rich volcanic soils in between are fed by two of Bali's major rivers - the Ayung and the Petanu - and from these soils grows some of Bali's best rice.
The major tourist area of Gianyar consists of a string of villages along the main road up from Batubulan to Ubud, with each village being famous for a different artistic form. Bali's most famous dancers and best-known painters come from this region. Bali's most famous antiquities have also been found in this area, including the 2,000-year-old "Moon of Pejeng" bronze drum, the Goa Gajah hermitage at Bedulu with its elaborate relief's, and many other remains dating from before the 11th century. These all testify to the strength and continuity of the traditions upon which Bali's modern arts are founded.
Lying at the center of the area in which most Balinese antiquities have been found, the village of Bedulu was the site of an ancient capital of Bali before the Javanese Majapahit kingdom conquered the island in 1343. After the decline of Bedulu, other parts of Gianyar have been important court centers.
When Majapahit established a line of kings in Bali in the 14th century, their first capital was at Samprangan - now a sleepy village just outside of present-day Gianyar
Town. Later, in the 18th century, the village of Sukawati established itself as a separate court center and members of the Sukawati royal family settled between the Ayung and Petanu rivers, with branches in Peliatan and Tegallalang up in the mountains.
At the end of the 18th century, the Sukawati dynasty was forced to surrender its control of the area to a new family based in Gianyar to the east. As a result, most of the important districts and villages of Gianyar have members of both the old Sukawati line of Cokordas and the new Gianyar line of Dewas or Anak Agungs, and the history of the 19th century revolved around competition between the two lineages.
In 1884 the royal family of Negara, from the Sukawati line, overthrew the kings of Gianyar and plunged the region into turmoil. The conflict was finally resolved only ten years later, when a prince from Ubud, also of the Sukawati line, took the side of the Gianyar family and suppressed the rebels. There are still other important aristocratic families in Gianyar, however - foremost of which are the Gustis of Blahbatuh, whose palace was a major 19th-century power.
In more recent times, Ubud and Gianyar have been the twin centers of the region. Ubud now has the reputation of being Bali's cultural center, thanks especially to a group of expatriate western artists who made their homes here in the 1930s, but Gianyar has provided most of the political and administrative leadership. Bali's most important politician on the national stage, Anak Agung Gede Agung, diplomat and former foreign minister of Indonesia, is from the Gianyar royal family, and has retired to the palace of Gianyar to serve in the now-ceremonial role of king.
The neighboring villages of Batubulan, Celuk and Singapadu are the first in a series of surprising art and craft centers that one encounters going north along the main road from Denpasar toward Ubud. These villages have garnered fame for a variety of skills: Batubulan for its barong dance and stone carving, Singapadu for its gong saron and gong gede music, and Celuk for its silver and goldsmith.
Ten km northeast of Denpasar, Batubulan is a village known throughout Bali for its ornate door-guardian statues, carved of soft paras volcanic tuff. Until these became popular for secular use earlier in this century, the carvings were only used in temples or palaces, but this art form has spread extensively in recent years and is today found in homes and public buildings. Made Leceg and Made Sura, two of the most famous carvers of the area, continue the legacy of their mentor, the late Made Loji. Both have shops on the main road where carvings can be purchased and packed and shipped home.
Batubulan is also home to three famous Barong Dance troupes who perform seven times a week at 9.30am on their own stages before bus-loads of enthralled tourists. The development of these groups parallels that of tourism in Bali, but even so the Batubulan barong troupes are relatively young. The first the Danjalan Barong Group, was established in 1970, while the Tegaltamu and Puri Agung groups were formed later. The three troupes also perform on a large stage that was constructed especially for this purpose in the outer courtyard of Pura Puseh Bendul in 1986.
While in the neighborhood, Pura Puseh Batubulan is well worth visiting. Four statues of Wisnu poised on carved pedestals embellished with Tantri tales guard the temple. If you care to shop for antiques, Puri Sakana on the main road offers an extensive range of antique reproductions, furniture and beads.
Although many arts and crafts have prospered in Celuk, the village has evolve, into a center for silver and gold smiting. Almost every home in the village contains small scale production facilities fulfilling orders placed by large shops and exporters. Bracelets, rings, earrings and brooches, to name a few of a wide range of products produced here, have started to enter the export market.
The silver and gold craft trade was pioneered by the Beratan clan of smiths (pande). Nowadays most Celuk residents, whether or not they are members of the Pande clan, have become gold and silversiniths. Made Kawi and Wayan Kardana are among the better craftsmen. Be sure to bargain.
Along the main road between Batubulan and Celuk you will find about 40 art shops, most of which sell gold and silver jewelry. Keraton Gold and Silver Collection, Celuk Silver and Aditya Art Shop have particularly good selections. Other shops, such as Wirama Antiques and Modern Art and Bali Souvenir, sell masks, statues, old basketry and textiles, among other things.
The history of the small village of Singapadu, just up the road from Batubulan, goes back to the reign of I Dewa Kaleran, a king of Kalianget who assisted the ruler of Sukawati, I Dewa Agung Anom, to defeat the king of Mengwi with the aid of two powerful kerises.
As an expression of gratitude and to strengthen family ties, I Dewa Agung Anom offered his sister to be Dewa Kaleran's bride. Impatient at the long wait for his sister's pregnancy, I Dewa Agung then presented another princess to Dewa Kaleran, this time one who was already pregnant. This princess gave birth to a boy, called I Dewa Agung Api. Meanwhile, Dewa Agung's first wife also became pregnant and gave birth to another son, Dewa Kaleran Sakti. With the birth of both sons, two princes had rights to the throne, and the name singha-padu meaning "twin lions" was given to the place.
Some believe that Dewa Kaleran's sacred keris, Sekar Sandat, possesses creative powers and has therefore helped dance, music and carving to flourish in the area. In the past Singapadu was known as a center for dance and music. Unfortunately, these groups have today largely withered away. However, barong and legong groups continuing the traditions of the past can be found in Banjar sungguan. At one time these dance groups only entertained locals in temples, but now, they perform for tourists at the large hotels.
Apart from the gong gede, a type of gamelan which most banjars in Singapadu
Many well-known dancers have come from Singapadu, such as Wayan Griya, Ketut Rujag, Wayan Kengguh, Made Kerdek and Ni Ketut Senun. Today, there are many good ones left, such as Nyoman Cerita, Ketut Kodi, Ni Nyoman Candri and Ketut Rumita. Made Raos, another prominent dancer, is one of Singapadu's best barong (bapang) dancers. Two other prominent figures in the field of dance, Dr I Made Bandem, Rector of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Yogyakarta, and Dr. I Wayan Dibia, Director of STSI (the Academy of Music and Dance) in Denpasar, are also natives of Singapadu.
In the field of topeng and barong mask making, the late Cokorda Oka's mastery has now been handed down to his pupils, I Wayan Tangguh, Cokorda Raka Tisnu and Nyoman Juala. Wayan Pugeg and Ketut Muja also exhibit great talent in carving wood statues.
Conveniently located midway between mountain slopes and the sea on the main road north of Denpasar on the way to Ubud, Sukawati is a modest town of few tourist attractions as such, yet it is rich in cultural traditions and offers much for the interested visitor.
At one time, Sukawati stood with Mungkung as one of the two great negara or kingdoms of Bali. From Tegallalang to Ubud to Singapadu, topeng mask dancers still interpreted the history of the old realm of Sukawati before rapt audiences. Here the arts have remained vital, thanks to royal patronage and commissions from other parts of the island.
Early in the 18th century the Sukawati region, formerly known as Timbul, came under the influence of an evil sorcerer, Ki Balian Batur. His enemies all became violently ill due to his powerful black magig. Seeking to pacify Timbul, the raja of Mengwi Angelurah Agung, sought help from I Dewa Agung Anom - son of the raja of Klungkung. Together they defeated the sorcerer with magic weapons brought from the court of Klungkung. Ki Balian Batur is still remembered today in the name of the nearby village of Rangkan, which means "place of the evil man." As a token of his gratitude, the raja' invited I Dewa Agung Anom to build a palace and live there.
I Dewa Agung Anom dreamed of creating an ideal kingdom based on the
Lavishly embellished with carvings, the beauty of the great Pura was enhanced through the addition of fabulous gardens and pools. Every night, the sensuous sounds of the gamelan were heard wafting from an enormous bale pavilion covered wit gold leaf. The marvels of Timbul invariably caused visitors to exclaim "sukahatine" which means my heart's delight" and gradually the town became known as Sukawati.
Popularly known as Dalem Sukawati the first raja, I Dewa Agung Anom, enjoyed a long reign. Eventually wearying of political life, he retired to meditate in Petemon, near Bedulu. Meanwhile his sons grew fond of gambling and broke up a magic kris belong to the palace to be made into spurs for fighting cocks. Dalem Sukawati, despairing of his sons' inability to rule, declared that upon his death whichever son would dare to take the deceased Dalem's tongue into his mouth would inherit the kingdom.
Following the Dalem's death, his corpse became so swollen and repulsive that his soils were unwilling to perform the odious chore. This fell to a relative, the raja of Gianyar. Miraculously, when the raja took the hideously protruding tongue into his mouth, the corpse shrank to normal size and emitted a wonderful perfume. This failure of the soils, however, together with the loss of the protective kris, caused the heirs of Dalem Sukawati to be defeated in war by Gianyar, and subsequently the palace was abandoned.
Sukawati residents are proud that their town has a complex of temples unrivaled outside of Besakih. The complete sad kahyangan groups of six temples for the former Sukawati kingdom are here.
The Pura Penataran Agung temple at the center of Sukawati is a pilgrimage site for all members of the royal houses of the surrounding areas - Tegallalang, Ubud, Peliatan, Batuan, Mas, Negara and Singapadu. Destroyed in an earthquake in 1917, the temple was rebuilt on a smaller scale, which has in no way affected its importance. Next door to the temple is the Pura Kawitan Dalem Sukawati which still boasts panel carvings of Tantri tales besides several unusual statues in the outer courtyard.
The massive candi bentar gate of the Pura Desa on the northeastern corner of the town is a tribute to the continuing excellence of local craftsmen. Also famous throughout Bali are the tukang wadah craftsmen of the great cremation towers required for royal funeral ceremonies, and the tukang prada - makers of gold-painted costumes and umbrellas.
Sukawati is best known, however, for its many shadow-puppet masters or dalang. As many as 20 of these artists and their troupes are available for hire for ceremonial occasions and they travel all over Bali to perform. The Balinese say that the dalang of Sukawati are the best on the island because of many generations of experience.
Two famous dalangs live in Banjar Babakan behind the produce market. I Wayan Wija, known for his unusual wayang tantri, and I Wayan Nartha, may both be contacted to commission a shadow play or a special set of puppets. Anyone in the banjar can direct you to their houses. Another big name dalang in Sukawati is Ganjreng.
A scholar and member of the sangging caste of artisans, I Nyoman Sadia has turned from his family tradition of stone carving to making fine gold jewelry. His house and shop are just off the main road at JI. Sersan Wayan Pugig 5.
The commercial center of town is the Pasar Seni or Art Market. With patience and a sense of humor one can find bargains here on everything from woodcarvings to paintings. Along the main road, shops cater to local needs - such as baskets and ceremonial umbrellas. Directly across the road is an open-air produce market. North of this is the present site of the Puri Agung, where visitors wishing for an in-depth exploration of the town can overnight.
For over a thousand years Batuan has been a village of artists and craftsmen, old legends and mysterious tales. Batuan's recorded history begins in A-D 1022, with an inscription that is housed in the main village temple Pura Desa Batuan. The name "Batuan" or "Baturan" mentioned here prompts villagers to joke about being "tough as stone" or "eating rocks" - as batu means "stone" in Balinese. But it likely refers to an ancient megalithic tradition in which standing stones served as meeting places and ceremonial sites for the worship of ancestral spirits.
Batuan's central location in south Bali is the primary reason for its historical importance. Besides the ancient village temple, there is a temple called Pura Gede Mecaling which is said to be on the site of the old palace of the demon king Jero Gede Mecaling, whose name the Balinese are afraid to even utter. He is supposed to have moved from here to the island of Nusa Penida, where he still reside.
In the 1600s the famous family of Gusti Ngurah Batulepang dominated south Bali, living as prime ministers based in Batuan. They remained prime ministers until the early 1700s, when a branch of the Klungkung royal family was established at nearby Sukawati. At that time the chief centers of the kingdom were Sukawati, Batuan, and the nearby sea side village of Ketewel. Batuan still has ritual links with Ketewel that commemorate that era.
The family of Batulepang scattered to the far corners of Bali in subsequent centuries as the result of a priestly curse, but a small temple for Gusti Batulepang remains on the site of his palace. The Buddhist priests or pedanda boda who later made Batuan a great spiritual center built a house, the Griya Ageng on that part of Batulepang's temple where death rituals were once held. They then marshaled powerful Tantric forces here.
Because Batuan became a center from which Buddhist priests and brahmans spread to main court centers of south Bali, the village has an unusual preponderance of brahmans DeZoete and Spies, in their famous book Dance and Drama in Bali, describe it almost as entirely a brahman village. This is not really true, but much of the village near the main Denpasar to Ubud road is inhabited by the extended family of the Buddhist Griya Ageng and of a smaller number of Siwa-worshipping brahmans who came later to Batuan. The other main high caste family the Dewas, related to the Batua, or extended palace family, who are in turn closely related to the Gianyar royal family. Batuan is unusual in that commoners actually form a minority in the center of the village.
The western area of Batuan, known Negara, was a separate village and court center in the 19th century. It grew so powerful that it revolted against the main house Gianyar in 1884, destroying the kingdom and setting south Bali on a path of inter conflict which opened it up to Dutch conquest. In 1900, when the Dutch took over Gianyar, Negara was incorporated within Batuan Similarly, the adjacent area of Puaya, a famous center for dance and theater ornaments, puppets and other objects made from hide, is regarded as being quite separate.
The Buddhist Brahmans of Batuan, in concert with the famous former king of the village, Anak Agung Gede Oka (1860 - 1947), were responsible for making Batuan the center on Bali for the most courtly and elegant of all Balinese dance forms, the gambuh. In all of Bali only two troupes from Batuan still perform this theatrical presentation of tales of ancient princes and princesses.
The first is led by I Made Jimat, Bali's most celebrated dancer of modern times, whose genius never fails to leave his audiences breathless. The second consists of the extended family of the greatest dancer of the generation before Jimat - the late I Nyoman Kakul - who passed on the skills and techniques of gambuh and of the other important dance forms such as the masked topeng plays and the operatic arja theater. I Ketut Kantor, Kakul's son, now lead the troupe.
In his day Kakul was able to call on the mask-making skills of Dewa Putu Kebes, whose topeng masks were charged with the spiritual forces of kings and heroes from the Balinese past. Since his death, his son Dewa Cita and grandson Dewa Mandra have maintained the combination of immaculate skill and divine inspiration, which made his work so powerful. A pupil of the family, Made Regug of Negara, also upholds the fine carving tradition.
Besides the dances, performed in the central part of the village, Batuan is also famous for its wayang Wong, masked performances of stories from the Ramayana. This is exclusively performed in the banjar (hamlet) known as Den Tiis.
From Den Tiis also came the inspiration for the modern Batuan style of painting. In the 1930s, two brothers, I Ngendon and I Patera, began experimenting painting with ink on paper. The result was powerful black and white images of magic and of Balinese life. The families of these two artists are still influential in the village, and now own the Art shop Dewata on the main road leading to Ubud.
Ngendon and Patra originally studied under a traditional painter living to the east of the palace, but from them. The painting tradition spread back to the main part of the village where it was enthusiastically embraced by a number of their fellow villagers. The present-day generation of artists includes Made Tubuh, Wayan Rajin, Ida Bagus Putu Gede and Made Budi who has become famous through his humorous and insightful depictions of tourists in Bali.
The village of Mas lies on the main road, 20 km to the north of Denpasar and 6 km before Ubud, in a hilly countryside covered with rice fields and irrigated year-round by the waters of the Batuan and Sakah rivers.
Today the village appears as a succession of palatial art shops, as Mas has developed into a flourishing center for the woodcarving craft. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine what the village was like before dozens of tourist buses started to drop in everyday. Yet Mas actually played an important role in Balinese history during the 16th century, as it was the place where a great priest from Java, Danghyang Nirartha (also called Dwijendra), had his hermitage (griya).
The holy man, known locally as Pedanda Sakti Wau Rauh (literally: "The Newly Arrived High Priest") crossed to Bali from Kadiri in east Java after the fall of the powerful Majapahit kingdom, and was invited to Mas by prince Mas Wilis (Tan Kober). Here the pedanda acquired great fame through his teaching, and gathered many disciples. His son by Mas Wilis daughter is the forebear of one of Bali's four important brahmana clans, which to the present day traces its roots back to the village.
The priest's fame reached the court of Dalem Baturenggong in Gelgel, who, impressed by Danghyang Nirartha's superior wisdom, appointed him the King's counselor and court priest.
Based upon his instructions, many temples were built, especially after his moksa (holy death). His belongings - bajra (holy bell), black shirt, mattress and staff - are now kept in the Mas griya, and the Pura Taman Pule temple was built on the site of the priest's griya.
The gods are also said to have bestowed talents on two of Mas houses: the skill of the shadow puppet master to Griya Dauh, and the skill of woodcarving to Griya Danginan. At first, the woodcarvers (sangging) were all brahmanas who worked only on ritual or courtly projects. Their disciples (sisya) learned the craft from them, and woodcarving skills were transmitted from father to son. The traditional wayang style prevailed, featuring religious scenes and characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata epics.
During the 1930s, under the influence of Walter Spies and Pita Maha, a new style of woodcarving developed here. The motifs were more realistic, and inspired by everyday scenes featuring humans and animals. Several of these early works may now be seen in Ubud's Puri Lukisan museum.
During this period, woodcarvings began to be appreciated and purchased by foreigners, but only after 1970 did the real boom take place. The first art shops in Mas were those of Ketut Roja (Siadja & Son), followed by Ida Bagus Nyana and his son Ida Bagus Tilem, and Ida Bagus Taman (Adil Artshop). At first they all produced works of quality in limited quantities, mainly working with locally available woods. A more abstract style was later developed by Purna and Nyana, featuring elongated, curved lines and woods such as ebony and sandalwood. Later oil, in Pujung and Tegallalang, Cokot began to carve roots into demonic figures.
In recent years, many realistic, brightly painted animals and fruit trees (known here as pulasan) have appeared on the market, based on European designs. First created by togog in Pujung, much of the production is flow of questionable quality.
Dozens of woodcarving shops now line the main road. The three mentioned above are the most famous, as well as Tantra and I. B. Anom for topeng masks.
One can see craftsmen at work in small workshops in the galleries. The system is paternalistic; the shop owner gives work to his craftsmen according to their skill, the price is then based on the final product. They work at the gallery or at home. The craft is learned at an early age inside the family; technology is still quite traditional, using various types of axes, chisels and drills made by different local blacksmiths. Prices are very high anyway, especially if you do not come on your own. They can sometimes handle special orders. Nyoman Tekek Manis recently carved a giant Christ that was placed on the Cengkareng Church altar in Jakarta and inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in 1989.
Located 100 in from the road on the east side, Pura Taman Pule does not take its name from the holy pule trees growing behind it, but means "Beautiful Garden"; Danghyang Nirartha is said to have planted a purple flowered tangi tree in it still growing behind an altar in the jaba tengah (middle court) from which a golden bud sprouted, which gave the village its name. At the back of the main temple, a padmasana surrounded by a pond is said to have been the place of his hermitage. People from all over Bali come to pray there, not only brahmanas, but also commoners of the Pasek Bendesa Mas clan, especially on its five-day odalan, falling on Kuningan Day (Saturday).
Far from the madding crowds, Ubud has long been a quiet haven for the arts. Set amidst emerald green rice paddies and steep ravines in the stunning central Balinese foothills, some 25 km north of Denpasar, the village was originally an important source of medicinal herbs and plants. "Ubud" in fact derives from the Balinese word for medicine - ubad.
It was here that foreign artists such as Walter Spies settled during the 1920s and '30s, transforming the village into a flourishing center for the arts. Artists from all parts of Bali were invited to settle here by the local prince, Cokorda Gede Sukawati, and Ubud's palaces and temples are now adorned by the work of Bali's master artisans as a result. Unfortunately, the tourist boom has transformed Ubud into a bustling business center, complete with traffic jams and fast food outlets.
According to an 8th century legend, a Javanese priest named Rsi Markendya came to Bali from Java and meditated in Campuan (Sangam in Sanskrit) at the confluence of two streams - an auspicious site for Hindus. He founded the Gunung Lebah Temple here, on a narrow platform above the valley floor, where pilgrims seeking peace came to be healed from their worldly cares. You can get there by following a small road to the Tjetjak Inn on the western outskirts of Ubud, then taking the path down toward the river.
In the late 19th century, Ubud became the seat of punggawa or feudal lords owing their allegiance to the raja of Gianyar. All were members of the satriya family of Sukawati and contributed greatly to the village's fame for the performing and plastic arts. The kingdom of Gianyar was established in the late 18th century and later became the most powerful of the southern states of Bali. And while elsewhere the Dutch conquest had such disastrous consequences for the Balinese royal houses, in Gianyar for the most part the raja and his subjects benefited from a Dutch administration that brought improved road irrigation networks, health care and school The period between 1908 and 1930 indeed, brought significant changes to the area, and toward the end of the 1930s Ubud was prospering as a budding tourist resort due to flowering of the arts here.
In the late 19th century a certain Cokorda Sukawati established himself in Ubud and was instrumental in laying the foundations for the village's fame. The area was at this time bereft of remarkable cultural features. It was it, the interest of the Cokorda that various artists and literati sought refuge here from other kingdoms. Ubud slowly accumulated specialists and evolved into a cultural center with resident artists and lontar experts.
A prime example is the case of the young I Gusti Nyoman Lempad who, with his father, a noted literati, sought and found refuge in Ubud from the king of Bedulu. In gratitude, the young apprentice sculptor helped to decorate the main Puri Saren palace in Ubud and carved statues and ornaments on the main temple (Pura Puseh) of the noble family, north of the palace. He also carved the temple of learning (Pura Saraswati). His work is still to be seen on location and some of his statues can be admired in Ubud's museum. At an advanced age he turned to pen and ink, working right up until his death in 1978 at the age of 116.
The punggawa of Ubud between the World Wars, Cokorda Gede Raka Sukawati, was a member of the Dutch Colonial Government's Volksraad (People's Council) in Batavia and already interested in the "arts and crafts movement" spreading from Europe to Asia and Japan. He encouraged Walter Spies to settle in Ubud, thus provoking a growing tide of visitors to this enchanting village.
At the turn of the century, painting in Bali was integrated in religious or adat ceremonies with the themes being taken from classical Balinese tales that were well-known from wayang performances. Inspired by the foreign artists who settled in Ubud, Cokorda Gede Raka Sukawati gradually changed this tradition. The unique m6lange of traditional Balinese and modern currents of western art forms that came to be associated with Ubud then took place.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s Ubud became the focal point for foreign artists and other creative people gathering around Spies, a highly gifted and versatile German artist. A Painter and a musician by training, Spies heard of Bali on reading Jaap Kunst's Music of Bali, published in 1925, in which the Dutch musicologist praised neighboring Peliatan highly for its gamelan orchestra. His work and anecdotes on the island riveted the attention of Spies, who was then director of the sultan of Yogyakarta's European orchestra.
Many other talented foreigners were attracted to Ubud also at this time. Among others, Miguel and Rosa Covarrubias popularized the hitherto little known beauty of Bali upon viewing Gregor Krause's magnificent photo album, published in 1925. Krause had worked as a doctor in Bali around 1912. After living in Ubud and Sanur, Covarrubias wrote his Island of Bali, one of the classics on Bali to this day. Rudolf Bonnet, the Dutch painter, was told of Bali's breathtaking beauty by the etcher and ethnographer Nieuwenkamp in Florence and came here to seek inspiration in the late 1920s. Colin McPhee came to join Spies' experiments and stocktaking of musical traditions, which were at this time very dynamic, with new creations springing up overnight. They worked together with the legendary Anak Agung Gede Mandera of Peliatan. McPhee later published a book on Bali's musical traditions as well as an account of his experiences here, A House in Bali.
Ubud rapidly became the village "en vogue" for many of these visitors - an insider tip from the many musicians, painters, authors, anthropologists and avant-garde world travelers who passed this way, especially after Spies settled in Campuan next to Ubud, on what is now the site of the Hotel Tjampuhan.
Spies and Bonnet both encouraged local Balinese artists, each in his own fashion. In 1936 they founded the Pita Maha, an artists' organization, together with Lempad, Sobrat and I Tegalan, among many other excellent Balinese artists. This association was to guarantee and promote the high artistic standards of its more than 100 members.
The Pita Maha movement did survive the vagaries of the Japanese occupation and the Indonesian struggle for Independence. However, Cokorda Gede Agung Sukawati, assisted by Bonnet, later founded the Palace of Arts Museum (Puri Lukisan Museum) in 1953 to provide a retrospective of local achievements. Balinese artists thus continued to work together, sparking a renewal of artistic activity in the 1950s.
In the early 1950s, Dutch painter Arie Smit founded the Young Painters School of naive painting in Penestanan with Cakra. This style, free of any philosophical or abstract influence, led to relatively uninhibited young school children using bright chemical colors to produce two-dimensional landscapes depicting daily life. Their work reflects the changing vision and lifestyle of young Balinese during the post-war period.
Han Snel was a young Dutch soldier who left the Dutch Colonial Army and 'vanished' into Bali after his military service. He then found his way up to the hills around Ubud. His work captured the imagination of both foreigners and Balinese alike with its invigorating synthesis of both cultures. Following his marriage to Siti, he built a studio in a secluded spot in Central Ubud. Antonio Blanco, another Western painter, settled with
his Balinese wife and five children on the heights of Campuan, bordering Penestanan. This eccentric even had one of Ubud's first telephones, a link between paradise and the madding crowds abroad.
In the 1960s and 1970s the hotel and catering industry implanted itself
here modestly enough compared to how it had taken firm control of Kuta-Legian,
but this idyllic village did nevertheless witness an ever-accelerating
flow of visitors who came to delight in the arts and to escape from
the daily grind. In short, tourism knocked gently but insisting on Ubud's
door. The advent of mass tourism in the 1980s has provided many young
inhabitants of this village with stable employment rather than farming
the fertile rice field in the surrounding hills. Land reform and hereditary
laws, in any case, have led to
It is therefore with mixed feelings that the visitor will notice how "business-like" the Ubudians are, although their artistic talents are still being cultivated. But modern time brings progress which is not to be stopped in the name of nostalgia. The inhabitants of Ubud retain their individuality and generosity, of spirit through all the changes, which leave the visitor wondering how this charming people can manage to deal with the dizzying alterations in the village structure resulting from the modernization of social, economic, and perhaps occasionally spiritual facto This must be one of the world's most closely guarded secrets, or perhaps it is only that special peace of mind which comes from such a beautiful environment and a mild climate. The unruffled calmness of Ubud has soothed many a visitor, while the extraordinary beauties of the surroundings still inspire the creative to work.
Nowadays you are also able to enjoy the fruits of that extraordinarily prolific period of pre-World War II Ubud in dance, music, painting and sculpture. Dance performances are given daily in at least three places including the main palace. In the meanwhile, ceremonies still abound where you can see various dance or shadow puppet performance or listen to excellent gamelan music. Pain and sculptors, writers and creative designers continue to seek abiding inspiration in the quiet stylishness of Ubud, Campuan and nearby Sayan. Gracious Ubud is certainly worth a visit.