Tenganan Village- East Bali

4 Dec

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As I mentioned in my previous post Brian and I ventured away from the grounds of our hotel, Alila Manggis only once during our five-day stay. It was too damn pretty to leave! Our one big cultural outing was a guided tour through Tenganan Village, an isolated community located in East Bali. At one time it was even referred to as one of the most secluded societies of the archipelago.

The people of Tenganan are called Bali Aga— “the original Balinese”. They are descendants from the pre-Majapahit kingdom of Pegeng. They have strict rules as to who is allowed to live in the village- only those born in the village can stay and become full members of the community. There are also strict rules regarding marriage- anyone who marries outside of the village….must leave the community immediately. Ouch! The Bali Aga also speak a dialect of the Balinese language that is entirely their own, dating back from thousands of years- supposedly it varies from village to village.

Tenganan Village is separated both socially and economically from the rest of Bali, shut off by a solid wall that surrounds the entire village- the wall is meant to keep outsiders away. There are four gates that you can access the village from, one facing north, south, east and west. Due to the inclusive nature of the village I was surprised that they were open to having tourists come in. Our guide explained that due to the entrance fee (two dollars per person) as well as the opportunity to sell their art; beautiful wovens, Ikat textiles & wood carvings, they make an exception. Tourists flock to the area due to the fact that the village still holds to the original Balinese traditions, ceremonies and rules.

It’s like walking into another world when you pass through the gates.

Roosters, dogs and even cows roam free in the village, although some of the roosters are also in bamboo-cages, some spray-painted in different colors for cockfights. When I first saw the brightly colored roosters (hot pink!) I was amused….until I learned about the cockfighting. Then I wanted run around and free them all. Our guide explained that cockfighting is over thousand-year-old Balinese tradition in Balinese Hinduism, and part of religious rituals to expel evil spirits. I found learning about the details of cockfights both fascinating and terribly disturbing at the same time.

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The houses of Tenganan are arranged in rows on each side of stone paved avenues. In the central place is the council house where the elders meet. This council house is some seventy feet long, strongly built and very old.

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It was an amazing few hours- there is nothing I love more (other than Brian and Frank) then learning about other cultures.

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All photos by Brian Glodney photography 

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5 Responses to “Tenganan Village- East Bali”

  1. apuginthekitchen December 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    I would have been tempted to free the roosters also. Cockfighting is so repulsive. Ugh… beautiful place though.

    • kate365til December 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      Isn’t it??? So sad. Despite that it was a beautiful place though!

  2. righteousbruin9 December 4, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    I would have been repulsed by the cockfights, yet would also have kept still. The longhouse resembles those of East Malaysia.

  3. milankagiordano December 4, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    I love Bali and the Balinese people. It’s a wonderful place. However, they have a lot of beliefs, rituals & offerings on a daily basis which have been part of their tradition for many, many years. It’s difficult for us to fully understand. I confess I did not see any cockfights! Thank goodness….:)

  4. mybrightlife December 4, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    These are beautiful images Kate. You are going to have to go on a second honeymoon pretty soon so that we can be entertained and inspired by more travel blogs from you! My husband and I are looking at a surf holiday destination and I have been trying to find the post that related to the camp where Brian went surfing quite a bit. It was semi rustic looking if I recall. I have scrolled back through your posts, enjoying quite a few that I had missed recently – we have been travelling 🙂 – but can’t seem to find it. If you could remind me I would appreciate it. Thanks so much!

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