History of the Bali House

December 29, 2007

A patron of arts, Dewa Agung Gusti Sideman took greatness in supervising the design and construction of his palace in Klungkung - an example of Hindu-Balinese architecture. Kertha Gosa architecture took shape of a mandala - a Buddhist influence domed-mountain shape. Mandalas help people further their dramatic revolution; pure forces of good come from a mountain. Kertha Gosa’s first major function pertained to court of law and justice. The Kertha Gosa pavilion was the meeting place for the raja (Hindu prince) and Brahman judges (Kerthas) to discuss issues of law and human affairs. Whether or not the king instructed his court painters to decorate the ceiling at the time Kertha Gosa was built is impossible to know. Moreover, it is impossible to know whether or not the story of Bhima Swarga was the first painting in the pavilion. The earliest and only record of paintings at Kertha Gosa dates from the year 1842 and is written in a lontar book (a book that holds prayers, history of Bali, and epics)
Balinese house (kuren) consists of a family or a number of related families living within one enclosure, praying at a common family temple, with one gate and one kitchen. The square plot of land (pekarangan) in which the various units. of the house stand is entirely surrounded by a wall of whitewashed mud, protected from rain erosion by a crude roofing of thatch. The Balinese feel uneasy when they sleep without a wall, as, for instance, the servants must in the un walled Western-style houses. The gate of a well-to-do family can be an imposing affair of brick and carved stone, but more often it consists of two simple pillars of mud supporting a thick roof of thatch. In front of the gate on either side 'are two small shrines (apit lawang) for offerings, of brick and stone, or merely two little niches excavated in the mud of the gate, while the simplest are made of split bamboo. Directly behind the ' doorway is a small wall aling aling that screens off.The house of a poor family is called pekarangan, that of a nobleman is a jero and a Brahmana's is a griya, but these differences are mostly in the name, the quality of the materials employed, the workmanship, and of course in the larger -and richer family temple. The fundamental, plan is based on the same rules for everyone. Only the great palace (puri) of the local ruling. prince is infinitely more elaborate, with a lily pond, compartments for the Raja's brothers and his countless wives, a great temple divided into three courts, and even special sections for the preservation of the corpses and for the seclusion of " impure " palace women during the time of menstruation.
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