Batuan Village Home of Balinese Paintings

Batuan village is one of famous tourism destinations in Bali, located  in coordinate 8° 35′ 8.02″ S, 115° 16′ 32.29″ E, about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) south of Ubud, about 7 kilometers northeast of Denpasar,  it is popular with center of the arts, and now it’s known for its dancing, wood panel carving and paintings.

For over a thousand years Batuan has been a village of artists and craftsmen, old legends and mysterious tales. Batuan’s recorded history begins in A.D. 1022, with an inscription that is housed in the main village temple, Pura Desa Batuan/Batuan Village Temple. In the Age of Warmadewa Dynasty in Bali, Desa Batuan / Batuan Village had to be there. Baturan eventually came to be called Batuan, which comes from the word of Batu / rock, because in this region (in that time) is a rocky area (the famous Balinese sand stones are still produced  here in northern of Batuan), then because of daily changes in the pronunciation then more popularly known as Batuan Village.

But it likely refers to an ancient megalithic tradition in which standing stones served as meeting places and ceremonial sites for the worship of ancestral spirits. Because Batuan became a center from which Buddhist priests and Brahmans (highest caste in Bali) spread to the main court centers of south Bali, the village has an unusual preponderance of Brahmans.

Besides the dances, performed in the central part of the village, Batuan is also famous for its unique Paintings  then call ‘Batuan style’.

Batuan Painting

The Batuan artisans are gifted dancers, sculptors and painters. Leading artists of the 1930s included I Nyoman Ngendon, and a number of members of leading Brahman families, including Ida Bagus Made Togog. Other major Batuan artists from the pre-modernist era include I Dewa Nyoman Mura (1877-1950) and I Dewa Putu Kebes (1874-1962), who were known as sanging; traditional Wayang-style painters for temples’ ceremonial textiles.

The western influence in Batuan did not reach the intensity it had in Ubud. The Batuan paintings were often dark, crowded representations of either legendary scenes or themes from daily life, but they portrayed above all fearsome nocturnal moments when grotesque spooks, freakish animal monsters, and witches accosted people. This is particularly true for paintings collected by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson during their field studies in Bali in 1936 to 1939. Gradations of black to white ink washes laid over most of the surface, so as to create an atmosphere of darkness and gloom. In the later years, the designs covered the entire space, which often contributed to the crowded nature of these paintings.

Among the early Batuan artists, I Ngendon(1903-1946) was considered the most innovative Batuan School painter. Ngendon was not only a good painter, but a shrewd business man and political activist. He encouraged and mobilized his neighbours and friends to paint for tourist consumption. His ability in portraiture played an important role in teaching his fellow villagers in Batuan more than Spies and Bonnet. The major Batuan artists from this period were: I Patera (1900-1935), I Tombos (b. 1917. Ida Bagus Togog (1913-1989), Ida Bagus Made Jatasura (1917-1946), Ida Bagus Ketut Diding (1914-1990), I Made Djata (1920-2001), and Ida Bagus Widja (1912-1992). The spirit of the Pitamaha period is still strong and continues by contemporary Batuan Artists such as I Made Budi , I Wayan Bendi (b. 1950), I Ketut Murtika (b. 1952), I Made Sujendra (b. 1964), and many others. I Made Budi and I Wayan Bendi paintings capture the influence of tourism in modern life in Bali. They place tourists with their camera, riding a motorbike or surfing in the midst of Balinese traditional village activities. The dichotomy of modern and traditional Balinese life are contrasted starkly in harmony. I Ketut Murtika ( still paints the traditional story of Mahabharata and Ramayana in a painstaking details with subdued colors. His painting of the Wheel of Life viewed from the Balinese beliefs system shows his mastery of local legends and painstaking attention to details. I Made Sujendra, an art teacher at a local art school, depicts old Balinese folklore with a modern eye and a high degree of individuality. Rejecting excessive decoration and relying on the composition itself, I Made Sujendra is successful in depicting tensions in his work and the old Batuan style of 1930s.

Yeah, a lot lot of art story from Batuan Village make it to be the favorite place to be visited in Bali, especially to them who love Balinese art and painting, to visit this area please join our Ubud Shopping and Ubud-Kintamani-Volcano Tour. Have a nice trip…