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Bali, 19th-20th century, Brayut. Ink and colours on Balinese cloth. Nyoman Gunarsa Museum Klungkung Bali. Photo: Ida Bagus Putra Adnyana
The vast majority of nineteenth and early twentieth century Balinese paintings are designed to tell stories and in a number of them their painters have depicted rituals. Paintings of the Brayut story (geguritan Brayut), for example, illustrate a commoner family’s celebration of Galungan and the father’s ritual preparation for death on the occasion of his youngest son’s marriage when he abdicates his responsibility for his family’s customary obligations. Paintings, which tell the story of RÄma’s grandfather and grandmother, Prince Aja and Princess IndumatÄ« (kakawin SumanasÄntakaÄ«), focus viewers’ attention on marriage rites, while paintings of the story of RÄma and SitÄ (kakawin RÄmÄyaá¹‡a) and of God Smara and Ratih (kakawin Smaradahana) depict death rituals including the ritual suicide of wives. However, closer examination of these narratives paintings reveals that painters designed their works to draw viewers’ attention to other social and cultural thematic interests—to gender roles, and the differences between kings and priests for example.
Peter Worsley, graduated from the University of Sydney in 1964 and completed his PhD at the University of Leiden in 1972. He was Professor of Indonesian and Malayan Studies at the University of Sydney between 1973 and 2000 and is at present Professor Emeritus attached to the Department of Indonesian Studies in the School of Languages and Cultures at the University. His recent research interests and publications have been in the fields of ancient Javanese Literature and Balinese narrative painting in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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