Bali Arts and Handicrafts

Art as a sacred form of worship

  • Multifaceted Balinese Artists
  • Balinese Painting
  • Wood and Stone Carving
  • Balinese Traditional Textiles
  • The Villages of Balinese Artists
  • Ubud as The Art Center of Bali
  • Mahabarata & Ramayana, the Inspirations that never gets old
  • Contemporary Art
  • Art Performances
  • Keris, a Traditional Weapon with Artsy Designs

An obligation to the deities

A long time before Balinese arts were used for its aesthetic purposes, arts were meant to be an expression and obligation to the deities. It really is a big part of life in Bali, and the deep spiritual traditions of the island are strongly connected to art. The unique aesthetics of the Balinese people can be seen in the paintings, carvings, jewelry, and stonework found everywhere on the island. Different villages and regions of Bali are famous for different crafts, and while Ubud is now seen as the centre of Balinese art, different styles can be found around Bali.

Travelers to Bali will be amazed at the art that they can view, buy, and take home. For those who end up with more than they can carry back, there are many shipping services that make sure that the great souvenirs from a trip to Bali arrive at home safe and sound, for a low price. All of this makes Bali the perfect place to learn about local art, support the artistic community, and bring some of the feeling of Bali back home.

In the past the Balinese artists were multifaceted, they could paint, sculpt, and even dance. The demands coming from countries abroad including Europe and America, has made many artists start to specialize in one traditional Balinese art.

Balinese Painting

Bali is also known as the "island of the artists". The artsy spirit that exists on the island is passed down from generation to generation. Balinese artists traditionally produced only religious art for depicting myths. One of the oldest traditional Balinese paintings that have been found at the ruins of Gelgel Kingdom (now better known as Klungkung, south-east Bali) is estimated to be from the 15th century. The simple painting style with natural dye made of cotton flower and rice starch, looks like the paintings found in "wayang kulit" (shadow puppetry from Java).

One of the oldest painting that tourists enjoy today are the lotus painting and the figure of the god Ganesha from the 15th century. These are well preserved in Pura Besakih. Some works from early 19th centuries are now placed in museums in Ubud, palaces or temples as decorative elements that have the beauty and value of history.

At the beginning of 1930 Ubud, Batuan and Sanur began to emerge and be recognized by the tourists as regions with great quality work of art. I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Ida Bagus Gelgel and Ida Bagus Kembang were famous Balinese painters at that time, who had acculturated traditional concepts and materials in art with some influences from the west. In the 50s and 70s the Balinese arts communities / associations were also increasingly being formed in several areas, and the art school started to produce Balinese artists with more capable abilities. International artists began moving to Bali in the early 1900s, spreading their art style to the people, especially to Balinese artists in Ubud and neighboring Batuan village. This influence the local artists to move from a more traditional black and white approached to more colorful and detailed paintings.

The contemporary artists experiment with more modern forms of art, and a wide range of artistic approaches can be seen in the art galleries across Bali, as well as in the hotels, cafes, and restaurants that sometimes have exhibition. The price of the paintings sold to the tourist depend on the talents and skill of the artists.

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Wood and Stone Carving

Balinese wood carving is an ancient art form, but has also changed and developed over the years. The village of Mas is famous for its woodcarvings, and some of its master artisans have become famous across Indonesia and the outside world. Wooden statues of human and animal figures are common, but even furniture, fixtures, and door frames are often adorned with flowers, landscapes, and traditional themes by skilled craftsmen. Carvings can be bought as souvenirs in all parts of Bali, varying from cheap and charming to intricate and unique.

For Balinese people, the natural world is a part of daily life, and gardens and outdoor areas are designed according to traditional principles and carefully maintained. For this reason, stonework is also considered importance in Bali. The village of Batubulan is famous for its stone carvings, but there are enclaves of stone masons in areas such as Kerobokan and Denpasar as well. Traditional subjects are common, but business is brisk, and many of these stone carvers sell large pieces to businesses and private individuals around the world, so alongside Ganesha and wayang puppets, visitors can find stone Buddhas, garden sculptures, and nudes, some as big as small houses. There is a wide variety in quality here, with mass produced stonework available as well as more artistic pieces marked by individual craftsmanship.

Balinese textiles

Endek clothe or commonly called as wastra endek is a Balinese weft ikat cloth that is still preserved its sustainability and still oftenly used as a material for ritual/ ceremonies clothing, school uniform (some areas in Bali) and also office uniform. Endek's motifs are so diverse, some motives are even considered sacred and only can be used for religious activities in temples. There is also a special motif that can only be used by certain people, such as kings and noble descendants. Patra and encak motifs are considered sacred, commonly used for religious ceremonies to symbolize respect for the Creator, while nature motifs like flowers, leaves, and animals are commonly used for daily activities.

Endek cloth began to evolve since 1985, during the reign of King Dalem Waturenggong in Gelgel Klungkung precisely in one village named Sulang Village. Although the endek fabric has existed since the existence of Gelgel Kingdom, it only began to grow rapidly in Sulang Village after the independence day of Indonesia around 1975-1985.

Nowadays, one of the areas in Bali, Sidemen Village in Karangasem Regency known as a famous fabric craftsman village. Weaving cloth is a daily activity that is mostly done by the residents of Sidemen village. Almost all female residents in this village, young and old are able to weave at least for simple patterns. The surrounding environment which is full of natural beauty must be the source of inspirations for the local residents to continue producing natural patterned fabric woven that is so beautiful and sophisticated. Sidemen village produces two types of woven fabrics, Ikat weaving, commonly called as endek, to be used in everyday activities and songket woven fabrics which are only used for religious activities or important ceremonies in cycle of life Balinese people such as tooth-cutting ceremony (metatah / mepandes), marriage, religious holidays, cremation (ngaben), and other traditional ceremonies.

Bali Signatures

The Villages of Balinese Artists
Local Community Artists

The Villages of Balinese Artists

A group of Balinese artists is usually  living in the same village, creating a local community who have same interest.

The Artists' Recidents

A Modern Touch in Traditions

Contemporary Art

The influences from the modern days are also can be found in some art masterpieces created by Balinese artists. 

Inspiring Hindu Epic Literature

Mahabarata & Ramayana

Two of this Hindu Epic Literature has been eternal inspirations for Balinese artists since forever. It can be found anywhere in the island.

Landscapes, Plants and Animals

The Natural Beauty of Bali

Many artworks of Balinese artists are heavily influenced by the beautiful surroundings of the island. 

An Artsy Traditional Weapon

Balinese Kris

Throughout Indonesia, kris (keris) is a symbol of heroism, martial prowess, and authority. As a cultural symbol, the meticulously decorated keris represent refinement, art and beauty. 

Art & Culture Museums in Bali
Authentic collections of Bali Arts

Museums in Bali

Many beautiful masterpieces of artworks by Balinese and International artists are now we can enjoy in some museums in Bali. 

Best Museums in Bali

Bali Traditional Dances Show
An Energetic Bali Dance

Bali Performing Arts

Watching a traditional Balinese dances show can be a breathtaking experience for those culture interest. There are many stages in the island, performing specific dance weekly.

Best Traditional Dances Show

The Artsy Area of Ubud

Ubud as The Center of Art in Bali

Ubud has a long history related to the art and culture. Museums or galleries of paintings and sculptures, along with Bali traditional dance stages are easily found in many corners of Ubud.

Art Epicenter of Bali

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Wooden Sculpting of Bethara Kala on Bali Gamelan Set

Colorful Detail Carvings on the door of  a Temple

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