Batuan Wood Carving and Painting

Continuing west you will come to Banjar Kalah in Peliatan - a hamlet filled artists. It seems as if every hamlet or villages specializes in a particular kind of art form and here it is the carving of small animals, fruits, giant flowers and banana trees. Hidden away among these carvers is an exquisite painter of the wayang style: I Ketut Mandra. To get to his home (also a losmen) you tern south into the dirt road by Sadu artshop, turn right at the next junction and the left again. Her you won’t find walls of ready made paintings for sale - to the contrary, one of Mandra’s paintings must be ordered well in advance as it takes him many weeks to finish one.

A community of painters work in Dewa Nyoman Batuan’s workshop just west on the asphalt road at the bend in the road. Dewa Nyoman began experimenting with painting mandalas in the early ’70s and his paintings have a unique touch. Here one painting - which could extend up to 3 sq m (32 sq ft) - could be worked on by many men simultaneously. Aside from painting, Dewa Batuan’s workshop manufactures gaily painted wood carved mirror frames, boxes and small cabinets, which has become industry, alongside basketry, in the village of Pengosekan.

Going back to the main road, we come to the central village of Peliatan - famous in the 50s for its Legong dancer who took New York by storm while on tour. Today the daughters of these former legongs and their cousins and friends continue the tradition, although few can compare with the tiny girls from the ’50s and ’70s. Every Friday night in the hamlet square in Banjar Teruna, you can see some of Peliatan finest exponents of music and dance perform the Tirta Sari gamelan.

Originally these artists were all trained under the discerning and critical eye (and ear!) of the late Anak Agung Gede Mandera, who passed away in December of 1987. For decades, “Gung Kak” (as he was affectionately called) groomed both dancers and musicians alike and his legacy still live on today. A foundation is being established in his memory by his family at his palace, Puri Kaleran in the back of the Mandala Boutique. One of the few all-women performing gamelans (gamelan Ibu-Ibu) rehearses here and many of the members are relatives of Gung Kak. They perform every Sunday night with a troupe of child dancers.

Both in Peliatan and Ubud, one can study dance, music, painting or a number of other art forms. The best way to meet a teacher is to find a style that appeal to you (by going to galleries and watching performances) and then approach the artist directly about lessons

Even thought Peliatan is literally a hop, skip and a jump from the relatively bustling Ubud, a slower pace reigns here. With no glamorous hotel or restaurant, it is still a lovely rural area.

 

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