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The Balinese Culture

 

Although Bali has been welcoming tourist for over than a century, its culture and arts remain as strong as ever, testimony to the devotion Balinese feel for their island tradition. Tourism has even brought a renaissance to the Balinese arts, especially dance and dramatic performance. Encouraged by the appreciation shown by the foreigners, Bali's artistic groups are flourishing as never before.

 
 

No visit to Bali would be complete without watching a performance of Balinese dance. Whether it's the delicate beauty of the Legong dance, where angelic young's girls move with breath taking grace to the exotic sound of a GAMELAN orchestra, or the spellbinding magic of the Calonarang drama where the evil witch RANGDA does battle with the legendary Barong and his dagger-wielding followers, or the spine-tinglingachon of the Kecak, whose hundred men chorus sends up an eerie symphony into the night air, a performance of dance is sure to be one of the most memorable moments of any traveller's experience.

Balinese are also famous for their textile arts, wood and stone carvings, and crafts. Hand-woven clothes are use as ceremonial clothing or ritual decorations, and many of them are believed to possess not jus aesthetic value but spiritual powers as well. Hand-carved masks are another art inseparable from religious belief, and performers of masked drama will make offerings for their masks to bring them to life before the performance. Elaborately carved stone and wood adorns Bali's temples houses and the talents of Balinese craftspeople are eviden in the statues and handicrafts available for sale in Bali's market.

 
 

Bali also has a long tradition of painting, and Bali's museums and galleries have collected many classic examples. Traditional paintings were primarily religious works, made as offerings of beauty and piety to please the Gods and to illustrate religious teachings. Even today some Balinese still paint in the traditional "shadow puppet style", telling tales from the ancient Hindu epics. Beginning in the 1930's, Balinese began to experiment with Western painting techniques, leading to an explosion of creativity in the Bali's art world. Today one can see paintings in a wide variety of styles, expressing the cosmopolitan combination of cultural influences that is modern Bali.

(Source : Bali Interactive CD-Rom "Bali, the Island of Peace" by Bali Tourism Authority, 2000)

 

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