From scenic beauty to affable atmosphere, Bali is stockpiled with everything that charms heart with awe. While the vibrant beach life and amiable people of the island will win your heart, the cultural heritage and traditional outlook of the place will captivate your soul. Arts and handicrafts of Bali are the outcome of same rich history that carries the essence of Indonesian heritage in an impeccable way. One thing that no visitor can ever ignore when in Bali are the colourful handmade decor and crafts that seem to bring the aura of local markets and streets, alive.
Art is diverse in Bali. And this diversity comes from the dialects, dresses, cuisines, languages etc. of different communities of people like Chinese, Indians, Buddhists and Arabs who thrived here. Every community left its imprints behind giving the arts and handicrafts of Bali, a whole different beauty.
While appealing aesthetics, symbolism and mythical exploration may be one reason to not let your shopping bag stay deprived of Bali’s art and craft works, another reason that just might tempt you even more to unleash the compulsive shopper in you is the availability of great bargains at the local market.
Bagging best of Bali’ arts and handicrafts without breaking the bank, now this is what you call a win-win situation.
The wood carving in Bali is one of the finest form of carving that you will see anywhere. Natural tools like wood, stone, bones, horns etc. are used to sculpt designs on wood and one can almost feel the joy of art whirling on the rhythm of indigenous skills. The craftsmen depict unblemished figures of Gods, mythical events and floral prints in wood carving on doors, walls, spoons, bowls etc. Balinese always have their arms open to welcome and embrace new ideas from the foreign world too.
To capture the true picture of Bali’s wood carving, visit famous museums of Ubud that have some of the best artworks of Indonesia at display.
If there is a place that produces art to satisfy the hunger of every kind of art lover, it has to be Bali. The wide variety of paintings found in Bali from traditional to contemporary and even quirky makes up for a perfect market to steal the finest deals. Pick any, conventional canvas paintings, contemporary art pieces made by age-old techniques or a painting created with eggshells of different sizes, any choice would steal the show once you hang it on the wall of your home.
However the real gem of Balinese art lies in the most ancient living form of paintings that operate from Klungkung village of East Bali- Kamasan. This form of painting largely depicts shadow puppets and even the mythical events of Ramayan and Mahabharat.
We told you, Bali has a never ending stock of wonders and there isn’t a better example than the variety of paintings offered here.
Bali has authenticity inscribed to its name. Everything that you find here somewhere holds an original identity. But the best part is that the natives of the island are not reluctant to accept new advancements from the foreign world. The jewellery of Bali is largely handcrafted and one can find all varieties in ornaments here ranging from quirky to traditional. What may impress you even more is the fact that the silver used in jewellery of Bali is mined locally at Singaraja and involve no casting technique. The jewellery of Bali like its lifestyle is very much influenced by nature. It largely depicts floral and aqua designs.
Village of Celuk and Mas depicts some finest collection of jewellery not only in Bali but the world, astounding enough to take away pretty much any woman’s heart.
4. Mask Carving
Bali has always witnessed a plethora of religious practices from religions like Hinduism and Buddhism and many forms of arts and handicrafts here provide evidence of the vibrant culture. Mask carving is one such thing. Balinese wear masks during the temple dances to depict the tales and practices of Hindu religion. These masks depict cows, pigs and other creatures with big nostrils and ears and are considered sacred. Even the process of creating these masks is considered sacred and thus the artists who make these masks ought to be Brahman.
Visit the village of Mas and you can see artisans creating these masks on every street. Balinese hold the prestige of religion in their art and this is the reason that mask carving is considered a pious deed and the artisans are respected for their skills.
Textiles are the most important trademark of Bali’s handicrafts and a very significant part of the living culture of Bali. While to the world, Bali’s clothes are a masterwork of beautiful textures and fabrics, to the locals, they hold a divine importance as clothes here depict the manifestation of the universe. The traditional variety of textiles are enormous most important among which are Poleng, Endek, Keling, Bebali, Cepuk etc. Every textile has a different significance, few are famous among tourists while the major part of these are sacred and wore only on the religious processions.
Bali has seen the advent of multiple communities one significant group being that of China. Chinese, along with them, bought the emergence of a new turn in Bali’s handicraft industry, the ceramics. Today, ceramic decors are widely available in every market of Bali adding icing to the cake of Bali’s art world. It has made its way in pottery, heirlooms, decor and even jewellery. Having said this, the Ceramic museum at Jakarta is a must visit to experience the aesthetics of the wonderful artworks.
Talking about the handicrafts of an island and not mentioning the shell art in the list is like writing a song without a signature line. People at Bali know how to create art out of anything available. Shells are widely used by artisans here to make jewellery, decor, wind chimes etc. Tourists can even purchase shells to carry back home as a token of memory but one must be careful while doing so since most of these shells are endangered and needs to be saved from being extinct.
8. Dream Catchers
Among the pretty little things that the handicrafts world of Bali has to offer, one is Dream Catcher that is on the favourite list of almost everyone. Bali has some really beautiful dream catchers in store for its art enthusiasts, made up of feathers, threads and beads. It is the local belief that sleeping with dream catchers placed above your head keeps you protected from nightmares. Natives of Bali make dream catchers in the traditional way with locally available material and not carrying a dream catcher to your home is definitely a non-negotiable no-no.
You can find any local handicraft market of Bali studded with dream catchers on sale.
While the nature at Bali never fails to heal you with its serenity, the artisans will give you just another hangover of nostalgia once you drift away from the tropical island. Enough reasons to love Bali? Well, the list never ends.