Introduction To Balinese Traditional Architecture

Traditional architecture in Bali originates from two sources. One is the great Hindu tradition brought to Bali from India via Java. The second is an indigenous architecture pre-dating the Hindu epic and in many ways reminiscent of Polynesian building. Even the Balinese temple, it has been noted, is surrounded by a stone wall dividing its sacred precincts from the village very much like Hawaiian and Tahitian places of worship.

Balinese temples are divided into three parts, one inevitably passes through a split gate or Candi Bentar to enter the first courtyard. Then a second gate rising high with the grinning face of a guardian demon leads to the second division. Inside there are numerous pavilions used for various purposes. In the final courtyard one may find the meru pagoda which may have as many as eleven roofs if the owner or temple is important enough. The black thatch is from the sugar palm and can only be used in temples. There will also stand numerous sanggah or spirit houses and pedestals which will be full of offerings on ritual days. Everywhere carving in brick, volcanic stone and wood will be apparent. All are ringed by walls. The Balinese have always spent a great deal of energy and money on their temples for it is the duty to repay the ancestors for the prosperity. Continue reading

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