The Fascinating Culture Of Balinese Sculpture

Culture Of Balinese Sculpture

The long and storied tradition of Indonesian sculpture captures the imagination of anyone who visits the island of Bali. Dotted among the volcanic mountains, thick jungles, and iconic rice paddies are wooden and stone sculptures of animals, deities, and ancestral heroes. These sculptures are the work of both ancient and modern artisans and add to the magical feeling of the island. Every tribe has a unique sculptural style and every statue tells a unique story. In Bali, you can see the full range of diverse styles of sculpture and may even find an exotic piece to take home as a souvenir of your journey.

Asmat Wooden Sculpture

Perhaps the most recognizable of all Indonesian sculptural art forms are the wooden sculptures. The most famous are the Asmat wood sculptures from Papua. Asmat wood sculptures are found in museums around the world and are characterized by by intricate designs made with simple stone and bone tools. Asmat carvings are usually created as a place for an honored tribe member’s soul to reside after they have left the Earth. The carvings are a communication tool between this world and the next and are lovingly handcrafted with a care and delicacy incomparable to any other style.

The Diversity Of Wooden Sculptural Styles

Other notable styles include the Dayak wooden masks and sculptures that are characterized by their natural elements and abstract patterns that symbolize a range of wishes and virtues they wish to bestow on their family. Another style, the totem-like poles of the Batak and Nias tribes that were used in ancient religious ceremonies and as symbols of power and to bestow blessings. Of all of these styles though, the most elaborate wood carvings can be found in Bali. Mas Village near Ubud is probably the sculpture capital of all of Indonesia and visitors can see brilliant artisans using ancient techniques to create everything from wooden screens to wedding thrones to religions icons.

The Mastercraft Of Stone Sculpture

Stone sculpture is a newer form of sculpture in Bali, flourishing in the 8th to 10th Century. Most of the stone sculptures found on the island are influenced by the religious traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. These gorgeous stone sculptures are most often found at ancient temples but on the right hiking trail, you can stumble across standalone pieces. Most of the stone sculptures are created with an ashy, grey sandstone quarried from the banks of the many rivers that run through the island. Balinese believe strongly in maintaining their temples, so sculpture is more than just an artform, but also it is a deeply profound religious practice. If you travel to Batubalan or Karang, you can see the master stone carvers at work and observe the great skill and meditative practice of these ancient artisans.
Stone Sculpture Ganesh in Bali
Stone Sculpture Ganesh in Bali

The Sculptures At Villa Kubu

Around the property at Villa Kubu, you can see many examples of the varieties of Indonesian sculpture. From stone sculptures of Ganesh and Narasimha to carved wood totems, pencak silat warriors, and even playful frogs. If you are interested in learning more about Balinese sculpture, take a leisurely stroll around our property and if something catches your eye, ask our helpful concierges to tell you more about the piece and direct you to where on the island you can meet the incredible artisans behind the style. More than anything else, we want to share our incredible culture with you, so we will be happy to help you experience the most beautiful artistic craft on the islands.


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