Top 3 Balinese Arts Products
1. Batik and textile products
While those highly colourful beach sarongs sold by peddlers on the beach can be tempting and even useful for sunbathing on, they’re mostly low-quality prints. For authentic silk batiks that look good on your upholstery back home, invest some time browsing fine batik showrooms and manufacturers around the Batubulan area, such as Popular Batik. You can even enrol for a fun batik course to make your own piece!
Other Balinese fabrics to look out for are ikat, Bali’s own legendary geringsing, endek and the elaborate songket – all traditionally produced in villages in East Bali. Threads of Life in Ubud, is a gallery that is well worth a visit for its wealth of authentic heritage textiles from Bali and the Nusa Tenggara islands.
Balinese paintings are known for their different styles and artistic themes. The types of paintings you’ll come across at Bali’s art shops and art markets range from traditional dye strokes on canvas to quick artwork using eggshells. Shopping for Balinese paintings can be an eye-opening venture on its own, as you get to delve through the myriad rows of art styles. You should start in Ubud, which is generally considered the artistic and cultural hub of the island. Galleries and art markets elsewhere in Bali often display mass-produced pieces and collections.
Types of Balinese paintings
Balinese paintings can be classified into classic and modern. Until the 1920s, before the influence of Dutch and international artists living on the island, classical Balinese paintings were known to follow the Kamasan style, named after a village in the Klungkung regency in East Bali. A good example of Kamasan-style paintings can be seen covering the ceilings of the Kertagosa Hall of Justice in the centre of Klungkung, with inspiration drawn from wayang (shadow puppet) figures, depicting episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics.
Modern paintings emerged after western artists – German painter Walter Spies, Dutch painters Rudolf Bonnet and Arie Smit, and Belgian Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur – offered a European take on the classic Balinese styles. Most of the themes then evolved to depict scenes of Bali’s allure as seen through the eyes of travellers, ranging from the island’s beautiful natural landscapes, agrarian activities and fishing village scenes
Balinese sculptors are a special breed of artists, known for their 3-dimensional masterpieces in wood. There’s one place to go to find this kind of artistry in its truest form. The village of Tegallalang, just a short drive north from Ubud central, is home to a commune of woodcarvers who are known for the intricately stylised Balinese renditions of the Garuda, the mythical Hindu bird that is the mount of Lord Vishnu.
Other creations include anything from Balinese masks to wild animals and wooden tropical fruits. Sizes vary, with larger items available in knock-down segments that you can package and reconstruct at home.