Art for Balinese is not merely for art. Art has been part of life for Balinese society. Therefore, there is almost no art in Bali that does not leave from philosophical guidance and utterance to conduct the life.
In the previous period, Balinese artists did arts for dedication and worshipping. Even, many artists experienced nadi (trance) during the performance of the arts. It shows that the creativity of arts owned by the artists reflects taksu (power). With the culture of ngayah (work voluntarily), Balinese artists surrender themselves to their God, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi. Ngayah is a foundation reflecting creative energy of artists. From this artists are created various art works.
Arts in Bali exist in various fields of arts, such as, Seni Rupa (sculpture), Seni Tari (dance), Seni Kerawitan (music), Seni Pedalangan (shadow play puppetry), Seni Arsitektur (architecture), Seni Sastra (literature) to Seni Busana (fashion). They spread over as if covering the earth of Bali. That’s why, if we come during the big ceremony in Besakih or Batur Temple or in other temples everywhere in Bali, we will see stream of arts in Bali flowing full of touch.
“Trance in The Balinese Art”
Balinese arts & culture have always held mystery & romance for art enthusiasts & foreign audiences, but often skepticism also. Few westerners believe Balinese Dances are anything more than show & are designed & performed for no other purpose than to attract tourist dollars. Hopefully some of this western cynicism & skepticism will be curtailed by writing such as this, “opening up the world behind the art”.
We try to justify & demystify nadi. To show its significance in Balinese culture & religion that are so closely interwoven it is often impossible to differentiate between the two. All three, nadi, Balinese culture & Balinese religion are often misunderstood in other cultures. We aim to deepen people’s cultural knowledge, under the belief that “awareness creates closeness & love, & nearness to the creator.” It aims to increase the number of art lovers, in particular lovers of Balinese art forms.
It makes you aware of yet another aspect, perhaps the most important aspect, of the diverse arts of Bali. These traditions & strong beliefs attached to nadi are an everyday part of Balinese life. It even delves into the scientific, psychological & physiological realms with supporting evidence from a Psychologist
Nadi, or kerauhan, is defined as “the move from physical & mental normality into an abnormal, or “trance” condition.” Phenomenon like nadi exists in most cultures but perhaps is not so indelibly imprinted & interwoven with everyday life as this story shows is the case in Bali
Nadi or trance is a state of consciousness & unconsciousness. It is diverse in forms, practices & importance. Nadi is essential in Balinese art & believed to have a significant impact on the arts. With nadi the quality of the art is developed & it is given added value. The transforming power given to artists entering the state of nadi is called Taksu (Spiritual Power). Actors, dancers, puppeteers & musicians may enter nadi when performing, & it is believed poets & visual artists may also enter nadi.
It is written by Balinese to try to clarify some of the mysteries of nadi, & to alleviate the inaccuracies that often find their way into books written from a foreign point of view. Local people are able to portray the people & their arts more accurately. It is translated into English since the intended reader is not Balinese. The English translation is not perfect but don’t let this deter you from reading & understanding its content. It will change the way you look at Balinese arts.
“Never Ending Art Creativity”
“Taksu, Never Ending Art Creativity” is written by Balinese people to help bring to the world culturally, historically & religiously correct information about the little known & understood practices behind traditional Balinese Art, and to highlight the significance of cultural & religious beliefs in art
It explores the connection between art & religion suggesting Balinese art is in fact part of religious celebration, an offering to god. In order to make this offering as pleasing as possible, the artists seek divine assistance to perfect their art form.
It looks at the history of Balinese Art before tourism, in fact even before Hinduism came to the island & the background of the beliefs that are so very important to the people of Bali. It explores European influences: the changes brought about under Dutch colonialism, with the arrival of western artists, then through the influx of tourists in the 20th Century.
Taksu (spiritual Power) is the power given to artists entering the state of nadi, a trance-like state. Actors, dancers, puppeteers & musicians may enter nadi when performing, & it is believed poets & visual artists may also enter nadi, & in doing so gain Taksu.
Taksu, used by Balinese Artists to make their art successful, & therefore more pleasing to god, is an inner power.
Balinese artists often go on pilgrimages to get Taksu. They may study then visit temples believed to be a source of Taksu. They pray to the god Siwa to give them Taksu.
The section on Balinese maestros, like Mario, Lempad, Tjokot & others, is a fascinating insight into the real people behind Balinese Art.
Read & gain a wealth of knowledge & a new understanding of the traditions & strong beliefs which demonstrate the inter-relationship between arts, culture, religion & daily life of the people of Bali.
Throughout the world many aspire to great art through study & practice. It is often said that an artist is “a natural”, born with a “god-given” artistic talent, but after reading this you may realize that these “naturals” have in fact found “Taksu”.
Some of the art communities
Batuan is also the site of some exquisite temple carvings and superb dancers. Moreover, some of the finest exponents of “topeng” or masked, dance-drama are from Batuan. The dance most popular in Batuan is the topeng dance-drama, which chronicles the lives of Balinese kings and their subjects, as opposed to the tales of Indian heroes and heroines of the Ramayana epic.
Celuk is synonymous with silver and goldsmiths, art shop indicate visitors to sterling silver and good butterfly brooches, garnet-studded bracelets, earrings and ear-clips of all persuasions. The intricacy and detail they obtain with simple hand tools can be amazing. It is usually possible for visitors passing through to observe the workshop, which are often small rooms or work areas in the back. The shops on the road just north and parallel to the main road, nearly every family in Celuk are involved in some aspects of the delicate gold and silver work, which has become very famous over the years.
Kamasan village is a few kilometers outside Klungkung. Home of traditional Balinese “Kamasan” painting where a line drawing is made in black ink by a master artist and colored in with natural pigments.
Eggs, banners, paintings, bags, hats and many other goods decorated with Kamasan painting are all available here. The “Kerta Gosa” (Hall of Justice) at Klungkung features some impressive displays of Kamasan style paintings
Further along the road towards Ubud is the Village of Mas. Famous for woodcarving, Mas offer a myriad of wooden items. The road through it is solidly lined with craft shops and you are welcome to drop in and see the carvers at work.
From this village, on the outskirts of Ubud Bali, a new style sprang up during the 60’s that concentrated on just a few natural components like birds, insects, butterflies and plants. These paintings tend to be more realistic and less expressive than the Ubud style.
Sukawati is the anchor of an extremely powerful kingdom prior to the 20th century and a place where many of he Peliatan and Ubud aristocracy have their roots. Sukawati now is a modern art market and is home to some of the best shadow puppeteers in Bali. The Pasar Seni or Art Market is a two -storey building filled with woodcarvings, clothing and knick-knacks, all are much less expensive than at the larger art shops. The production of traditional Legong dance can also be seen here, it is riveting to watch the process of cloth painting.
Ubud is still a center for artist, famous for its painter’s community. Painting is just one of Ubud’s mainstreams arts; woodcarving is also something that residents seem to do with a natural intuition equaled by skill. Celebrities and artists from all over the world in recent decades; some have even adopted Ubud as their own home. Ubud has its own magic; just take a walk south of the village through its terraced paddy fields to the monkey forest