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The art history of Bali runs parallel to the history of the island itself. When Bali became a colony -of Java, the conquering aristocracy brought their art with them and every political event in Java has had a powerful influence in the development of Balinese culture.

Thus, the early classic period of Javanese art corresponds also to a classic period in Bali, and when the mother country suffered disturbances and transformations, these were reflected in Balinese art, until Islamism and political chaos severed all connections between the two islands, and Hinduism had to find refuge in Bali. As the island became the center of A, new empire and no longer a province of Java, the Balinese natives took over the art of the exiled aristocracy, transformed to suit their taste, and a typical Balinese art came into being.

Nothing definite is known of the art of pre-Hindu Bali, but we know that the old Indonesian had a culture of its own, perhaps like the present one of the people of Nias and the Bataks of Sumatra, to whom the Balinese are in many ways akin. They worked metals, especially iron for the. making of magic krisses cultivated rice, had a well-organized administration, kept domestic animals, and made splendid textiles. Outside of a sarcophagus, some bronze bracelets and arrow-beads found" Petang, probably belonging to people of Hinduistic affiliation no material traces of their megalithic monuments remain, or have yet been found, perhaps because archaeological excavation has hardly begun in Bali. But a great deal of the old Indonesian spirit has remained in the daily life of the people, not only among the Bali Agas, but also alongside the Hinduism of the ordinary Balinese. As we shall see later, there are definite traces of what could have been the art of pre Hindu times found today in the offerings, in the patterns of textiles, in certain sculptures, and the like.

Antiques are scarce in Bali, although there are thousands of mossy and battered statues all over the island., often of a more primitive style than the usual contemporary art. But a newly made statue appears of great age after six months of exposure to the damp climate of Bali, and, on the other hand, many ancient statues resemble those made in recent years. Many of the innumerable remains found in the temples, in jungles, or imbedded in the trunk of a waringin may easily be contemporary.

We made a sport of going out with Walter Spies into, remote districts to find objects of what we called " native " Balinese style, and often located figures in wood, stone, and evea clay that showed no trace of Hindu influence. There were demons, girls, primitive animals, and alarm-drums with faces carved on them that were reminiscent of Dyak, Batak, and Polynesian art. Spies is an enthusiast for the "' megalithic " art and he has discovered many strange stones with primitive carvings, . such as the stone in Bebitera, or the magnificent stone altar in Batukandik in the little island of Nusa Penida: a pyramid twelve feet high surmounted by the torso of a woman with large breasts, supporting on her head a, stone throne like those from Nias, with two roosters standing on her shoulders, their heads resting on the palms of her hands. The style of the monument is decidedly Indonesian and so are the two little shrines, also in the same village, with well-defined signs of being one male, the other female. I was invited to accompany Assistant Controler Grader and Spieg on an expedition into the wilds between the mountains Batur and Bratan; descending slippery ravines, into jungles, and up steep hills, we found many old statues overgrown with vegetation, some of which seemed from early Buddhist days, while others looked as if Hinduism had never penetrated into those districts. Particularly interesting were the pyramids and strange carvings in wood in Sanda and Selulung or the Polynesian-looking statues in Batukaang and Pengadjaran.

 

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