POST A: Spiritual and Cultural Influences in Bali

Design is ultimately shaped by culture. This can particularly be seen in Bali’s traditional architecture which is influenced by the islands’ spiritual and cultural beliefs, resources, and traditional arts.

Even before arriving in Bali, I found many accommodations offering villas that had separate buildings for bedrooms, lounging areas, and kitchens. This intrigued me as someone living in Australia, it seemed odd that living areas were so far away from each other.

Upon further research, I found that this idea of a compound of the home is heavily influenced by the Balinese spiritual and cultural beliefs, along with Balinese Hinduism. There are many different concepts that dictate how, why, and where certain parts of the home have to be, however I will only be discussing two.

Tri Angga is the belief that ‘everything in the natural world can be divided into three parts/realms’ (Davison 2014, chapter 2, para. 2). The high part is connected to heaven, gods, ancestors, and identified with mountains. The low part is linked to hell, bad spirits, the dead, and is identified with the sea. Whilst the middle part is the human world. The home compound is designed following this belief with family temples closest to the mountains, the kitchen and rubbish closest to the sea, and the bedrooms in between.

Another concept is Tri Hita Karana, the idea of harmonious and balanced relationship between the people, nature, and gods (Volunteer Programs Bali 2015). Keeping this in mind, the compound is designed with many open spaces allowing the people to be close to the gardens and natural environment. The natural landscape is mostly left untouched and the huts are also created using natural, readily available resources such as bamboo, grass thatch, various types of wood and stone.

The natural environment is balanced with the placement of statues of gods through out the gardens. The protective gods are also presented through stone and wood carvings within the interior and exterior of the homes, in particularly around the doorways to keep evil spirits out. The carvings are not just seen as an art, craft, or design to the locals, but as a tool with spiritual importance.

There is such a big influence of spiritual and cultural belief that runs through Balinese people in their everyday life that is incredibly different to Australia. The way they plan and build their homes is directly influenced by their beliefs and their art forms always have a special meaning, symbolising something spiritual. This is a great contrast with Australia where we build our homes based on function and aesthetic only.

Bali Mountain Retreat n.d., Culture: Learn More about Balinese Tradition and Hinduism, Bali, viewed 15 February 2017, <http://www.balimountainretreat.com/bmr/baliinfo.html>

Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) 2010, Population by Region and Religion Embraced, Indonesia, viewed 15 February 2017, <http://sp2010.bps.go.id/index.php/site/tabel?tid=321&wid=0>

Living in Indonesia n.d., Indonesia Arts and Crafts, viewed 15 February 2017, <http://www.expat.or.id/info/artshandicrafts-indonesia.html>

Volunteer Programs Bali 2015, Tri Hita Karana: The Balinese Way of Life, viewed 15 February 2017, <http://volunteerprogramsbali.org/tri-hita-karana-the-balinese-philosophy-of-life/>

Davison, J. 2014, Balinese Architecture, Google Books, viewed 15 February 2017, <https://books.google.co.id/books?id=HCBFBAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=id#v=onepage&q&f=false>

Image:

Davison, J. 2014, Balinese Architecture, Google Books, viewed 15 February 2017, <https://books.google.co.id/books?id=HCBFBAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=id#v=onepage&q&f=false>

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