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Bamboo in Balinese Life  

by on Monday, 9 April 2007One Comment | 19,334 views

Bamboo, called tiing by Balinese is an indispensable part of Balinese culture. In Bali bamboo is not grown within the house compound. Balinese believe that if the bamboo sprouts by itself within a house compound it is allowed to remain, but its growth is discouraged by indirect means. Such is the magic bamboo that only old people may tackle the dangerous job of digging it out and only in certain days that work concerning bamboo may be safely undertaken. But the Balinese life and culture would have develop along different lines had bamboo not existed on the island.


There are 15 or more bamboo varieties in Bali and each variety has its own quality that is needed by the Balinese. A variety called tiing tali (tali means “thread” or “string”) is made into thin bamboo strips and the strips are the common ties for almost every purpose. The strip of tiing tali holds lids on baskets, lashes scaffolding together, holds decorations on to their support, and serves to fasten myriad other devices.

Flat strips of tiing tali about one centimeter wide are also woven into various handicrafts: boxes, mats, woven walls, screen, fans, and hats. In Bali, square bamboo box without lid is called sok, which is really a name for any open basket that is woven. If it has a top it is called keben.


Strong tiing ampel is a material of choice for scaffolding, Balinese traditional house, temporary shrine for ceremonial purpose, and saté sticks. Sturdy tiing buluh is a perfect choice for fishing pole. The spotted bamboo, tiing tutul is the most popular variety for furniture material. The village of Bona near Blahbatuh, specializes in the manufacture of all manner of chairs, tables, and containers of various sorts using tiing tutul.


Bamboo is made into wide variety of instruments. A single culm with few finger holes and a mouthpiece will produce an excellent flute. In Java and Bali, lengths of culm are used as resonators below the bronze keys of xylophone like instruments called gangsas. A popular instrument that made up mostly from bamboo is tingklik or rindik. This is also a xylophone like instrument, except that the keys are themselves made of bamboo and has no resonator.


Almost all Balinese ceremonies need bamboo firecrackers called keplugan or timpug. Three section of bamboo are cut so that each piece has a culm node at each end like sealed tube. The three are placed on a fire. There is sufficient moisture inside so that when heated the tubes explode.

In Bali, every important religious celebration requires each family to erect a lavishly decorated tall bamboo pole, called penjor, on the street outside house compound precisely on the right side of the gate. Penjor have two functions, as do most Balinese offerings. One is to beautify the area when the deified family ancestors are invited to descend to the family or village temples. The second function is as an offering to the gods.


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