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The capitals of the princes' districts, the seats of the regencies, are commercialized half-European, half-Chinese towns like Denpasar and Buleleng; but the true life of Bali is concentrated in thousands of villages and hamlets. With their thatched roofs they lie buried under awnings of tropical vegetation, the groves and gardens that provide for the needs of the villagers. Out of the chartreuse sea of ricefields they surge like dark green islands of tall palms, breadfruit, mango, papaya, and banana trees.


Underneath the cool darkness, pierced only by the shafts of sunlight that sift through the mesh of leaves, are the houses hidden from view by interminable mud walls that are broken at regular intervals by long narrow gates. All the gates are alike: two mud pillars supporting a small roof of thick thatch, giving access to each household by a raised doorstep of rough stones. In front of every gate is a stone bridge, or, simpler still, a section of coconut tree trunk to ford the deep irrigation ditch that runs invariably along both sides of the road.

A simple village consists of family compounds, each completely surrounded by walls, lined on each side of a wide well built avenue that runs in the direction of the cardinal points; from the mountain to the sea, the Balinese equivalent to our " north and " south." The villages grew as they spread in these directions, and the Dutch bad only to pave the main streets and extend them through the rice fields to obtain the five hundred mile net of automobile roads that covers this small island.

The Balinese, being still essentially pedestrians, took good care to shade the roads with large trees, and every morning and every evening one sees the people in the streets, men going to work, nonchalantly beating rhythms on their agricultural implements, or returning from the fields overloaded with sheaves of rice heavy with grain. Poised women come and go with great loads or shin black clay pots on their beads. If it happens to be market day in the village, at dawn the roads are crowded with husky people from the nearby villages who come to sell their produce - piles of coconuts, bananas, or vegetables, pottery, mats, baskets, and forth - carrying on their beads even the table that serves as stand. If there is a feast in the village temple, the people parade in yellow, green, and magenta silks with fantastic pyramids fruit and flowers, offerings to the gods, in a pageant that you have made Diaghilev turn green with envy.

Naked children play at the gates by the bell-shaped bask where the fighting cocks are kept. Each morning the baskets a', lined out on the street so that the roosters may enjoy the spectacle of people passing by. Small boys wearing only oversize sun-hat drive the enormous water-buffaloes, which in Bali appear in colours, a dark muddy grey, and a pale, almost transparent pink albino variety. A water-buffalo will not hesitate to attack tiger; their ponderous calm and their gigantic horns are awe inspiring to Europeans, who have been told that their evening bath. the buffaloes. They have often charged white people for no apparent reason, although the smallest Balinese boy can man handle the great beasts. They love to lie in the water and be scrubbed by their little guardians, who climb all over them and bang from their horns when they take them for their evening
bath. The buffalo tolerates the children perhaps as a rhinoceros tolerates the birds that eat the ticks on its back.

The Balinese raise a fine breed of cattle, a beautiful variety of cow, with delicate legs and a long neck, that resembles overgrown deer more than ordinary cows. Ducks are driven in flocks to the rice fields, where they feed on all sorts of small water animals. Their guardian is a boy or an old man who leads them with a little banner of white cloth on the end of a bamboo pole topped by a bunch of white feathers. This he plants on the ground and be can then go away for the rest of the day, sure that his ducks will not wander away. At sundown the trained ducks gather around the flag waiting to be taken home. When the duck guardian arrives, the flock is all together, and at a signal from the flag, they march home, straight as penguins and in perfect military formation.

All Balinese domestic animals are rather extraordinary; chickens are killed constantly by rushing automobiles, but their owners make no provision to keep them from the road except the low bamboo fence that bars the house gate, and that is intended, perhaps, more for the pigs, which in Bali belong to a monstrous variety that surely exists nowhere else. The Balinese pig, an untamed descendant of the wild bog, has an absurd sagging back and a fat stomach that drags on the ground like a heavy bag suspended loosely from its bony hips and shoulders.

The roads are particularly infested with miserable dogs, the scavengers of the island. Most dogs are attached to the house they protect and keep clean of garbage, but they reproduce unchecked and there are thousands of homeless living skeletons, covered with ulcers and mange, that bark and wail all night in


great choruses. The Balinese are not disturbed by them and peacefully through the hideous noise. The curs are suppose frighten away witches and evil spirits, but I could never disco bow our neighbours knew when it was an ordinary mortal not a devil that the dogs barked at; they always awoke when stranger came into the house at night. Such dogs were undoubtedly provided by the gods to keep Bali from perfection.

The Balinese make a clear differentiation e dwelling-grounds and the " unlived " parts of the village, for public use such as the temples, assembly halls, market, cemeteries, public baths. The village is a unified organism in every individual is a corpuscle and every institution and organ. The heart of the village is the central square, invariably located in the " center " of the village, the intersection of the two-A avenues: the big road that runs from the Balinese " , South " and a street that cuts it at right angles from " east west " Consequently the crossroads are the center of a Rose Winds formed by the entire village; the cardinal dir mean a great deal to the Balinese and the crossroads are a spot of great importance.
All around and in the square are the important public. places of the village; the town temple (pura desa) , with its assembly (bale agung) , the palace Of the local feudal prince , the market, the large shed for cockfights (wantilan) , and the tall and often elaborate tower where hang the alarm tomtoms (kulkul) to call to meetings, announce events, or warn of dangers. Also important to the village life is the ever present waringin , a giant banyan, the sacred tree of the Hindus, planted in the square. Under its shadow take place the shows and dances given in connection with the frequent festivals; market is also held there in villages that do not have a special market enclosure. In ancient villages the waringin grows to a giant size, shading the entire square and dripping aerial roots that, unless clipped before they reached the ground, would grow into trunks that unchecked might swallow up a village. A beautiful village waringin is an enormous rounded dome of shiny leaves supported by a mossy, gnarled single trunk hung with a curtain of tentacles that are cut evenly at the height of a man; but in the waringins that have grown freely outside the village, the tree spreads in every direction in fantastic shapes. The aerial filaments dig into the earth and grow into whitish trunks and branches emerging at illogical angles and filled with parasite ferns, a dreamlike forest that is in reality a single tree

 

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Somewhere in the outskirts of the village are the public bath and the cemetery, a neglected field overgrown with weeds and decaying bamboo altars, with its temple of the Dead and its mournful kepuh tree, a sad and eerie place. The bathing-place is generally a cool spot shaded by clusters of bamboo in the river that runs near the village, where all day long men and women bathe in the brown water in separate modest groups. Some villages have special bathing-places with fancy water-spouts and low walls of carved stone, with separate compartments for men and women. Tedjakula in North Bali is famous for its horse bath, a special compartment that is larger and even more elaborate than the baths for the people.

 

 

 

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