Model of a Balinese Festival Village
This Balinese wood sculpture depicting a procession on the occasion of Melasti was likely carved by artisans in the village of Mas, or Peliatan, in the 1940s or 1950s. The upright figures are carved from red ebony (kayu ebon) found in Sulawesi; the pale wood is a Balinese soft wood called waru. Melasti usually entails a procession in which the gods from a particular temple are invited to enter into pratima (small statues usually in human form carried in ornate palanquins). The pratima are carried to the sea, or the closest source of sacred water, and ceremonially bathed in order to purify the village and its deities. Here a barong (a mythical, supernatural creature) is leading the palanquin as it leaves the split gates of a temple, set off by kulkul towers (slit drums made from hollow logs which are used as a summons to temple or village activities). This suggests that the procession, accompanied by male musicians and women in the lead carrying offerings, may in fact be for this barong. In such a ceremony—a matangi—the sacred barong of a temple is literally "awakened" and then goes on a series of processions to neighboring villages, sometimes to meet with the "awakened" barong of other temples. These processions are always very colorful—umbrellas are carried to shade the gods from the noon-day heat; banners and flags wave in the wind, and the gong provides marching music, while all the villagers dress in their best ritual attire, and follow the procession to its destination.

Gift of Nancy Echols Biggerstaff.


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