Balinese Traditional House: Buildings Made Based on Vedic Teachings

Bali is very famous for its culture that can amaze millions of travelers who come and visit the island nicknamed as the Island of the Gods. Not surprisingly, Bali is capable of becoming the icon of tourism in Indonesia. Starting from the beaches, mountains, fields, elegant ballet, food to existing customs make Bali have an array of endless beauty. One of the beauties and uniqueness that we can see is the traditional house of Bali.

Balinese traditional house has different characteristic when compared to the concept of home in general. Philosophically, Balinese traditional house is built by referring to the concept of Asta Kosala Kosali and Asta Bhumi (Vedic sciences on geomancy like Feng Shui in Chinese culture). In the Vedas, the Asta Kosala Kosali is a structuring technique of home or sacred building in Bali. This arrangement is usually based on human anatomy. By and large, the measurement is carried out by a religious leader or the so-called temple priest. The measurement is based on the size of the body and does not use the standard of measurement. Here are some example, musti (size or dimension to the size of a fist with the thumb of the hand facing upwards), hasta (the size of a divine human hand span from the middle of the wrist hand to tip of open middle finger) and depa (the size used between the span of the two hands from left to right).

There are two types of house in Bali in terms of geographic aspect, namely the customary house located on highlands and customary house located on lowland areas. The house located on highlands is generally small, having less ventilation and low-roofed. It is intended to keep the room temperature to remain warm. In addition, the courtyard is also narrower due to uneven ground surface. Daily activities such as cooking, sleeping to religious rites are performed in the house.

The division of building is divided into several sections as follows:
• Angkul-angkul serves as entrance gates.
• Aling-aling is a barrier of wall when entering from entrance gates from angkul-angkul so the sight from outside cannot directly see indoor area.
• Background or central courtyard as outermost space.
• Merajan, the most sacred place in house compound or family shrine located in the northeast. Daily prayers are held in this sanctum.
• Umah meten, this building is also commonly called gedong or chamber, this building is normally occupied by the oldest person in the family.
• Bale tiang sanga or nine-beamed pavilion is usually used as a space for receiving guests.
• Bale Sakepat or four-beamed pavilion is usually used as bedroom for children or other family members who are still juniors.
• Bale Dangin, frequently used to perform religious ceremonies, such as to keep the offerings and perform activities related to religious ceremonies.
• Paon (kitchen), a place to cook.
• Lumbung or rice granary is a place to store crops, such as rice and other crops.

The development process is commenced with the measurement of land called nyikut karang. After that, it is resumed with the implementation of caru animal sacrifice and asked for permission to build a house that is almost the same as building a customary house in Java. The ritual is carried out by performing groundbreaking known as nasarin aimed to request strength in order that the house building will become strong and sturdy as well as the worker or handyman is given Prayascita ritual for guidance and safety at work. When all the rituals have been undertaken, then the construction works begin.

Balinese people always start and end the development with a ceremony or ritual. All the above rituals essentially aim to give charisma to the home established and maintain harmonious relationship of human to God, human to fellow humans, and human to its environment.

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