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Balinese Ceremonial Umbrellas – Tedung  

by on Tuesday, 6 June 2006One Comment | 6,914 views

For auspicious occasions and holy Hindu ceremonies, the Balinese decorate their temple compounds with colourful umbrellas. In the Balinese dialect these umbrellas are known as ‘tedung’, which literally means ‘to guard’. The umbrellas are used in ceremonial parades and positioned around the compounds in alignment to various shrines that are orientated towards the sacred mountain of Gunung Agung. The colour of the umbrella normally reflects the type of ceremony that is taking place. Pure shades of white and yellow symbolize dedication to the Hindu religion and the different manifestations of God. [photopress:tedung01.jpg,full,pp_image] The precise origin of how the Balinese came to use umbrellas is not certain. However, local academics believe that the concept was introduced during the Majapahit era around the 13th Century when a Chinese princess visited Java on a merchant ship. She brought with her a traditional umbrella to protect her delicate skin from the tropical sun. The Chinese umbrella was then adapted and used to adorn shrines within the mighty Hindu kingdom. When the noble class eventually settled on the island of Bali, they also brought their art, culture literature as well as religion. (Photo taken from Bali 1912, author Krause, Dr. Gregor) [photopress:tedung05.jpg,full,pp_image] Prior to the impact of tourism on Bali, tedung were always associated with temple activity. But as hotel were constructed following traditional architectural principals, umbrellas became character pieces for hotel lobbies, gardens and dining areas to represent a style considered truly Balinese. [photopress:tedung04.jpg,full,pp_image] In modern times as the island has experienced moderate wealth, every community and family compound uses decorative umbrellas in conjunction with temple ceremonies that take pace in accordance to the lunar calendar. A community temple will regularly purchase new umbrellas with communal funds. Prior to being erected the umbrella must be sprinkled with holy water as a simple act of purification. [photopress:tedung03.jpg,full,pp_image] The village areas of Klungkung and Mengwi are known throughout Bali for the production of ceremonial umbrellas. Entire families have set up small scale industries to meet the growing demand for these decorative pieces. The local government frequently hosts competitions for community artisans and prizes are awarded for the most striking umbrellas. All umbrellas are entirely handmade and are generally produced in bulk as making a single item is time consuming. The total production time is one week and great care is taken throughout the process due to the religious aspect. The first step is to paint and trim the wooden pole that supports the umbrella. When this is drying the inner umbrella frame is constructed from a series of wooden spokes that are webbed at the base with wool. A material cover of triangular segments is shaped over the frame and sewn on using an old fashioned foot treadle machine. The umbrella is then decorated with beading, tassels and eye-catching accessories. The finishing touch is a carved wooden ornament placed on the top. [photopress:tedung02.jpg,full,pp_image] Umbrella making is a skill that has been passed down through families for generations. Hopefully it is a craft that will continue to exist as the Balinese maintain their religion and are fastidious about the appearance of their temple compounds.

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