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Home » Religion

Giant Flute of Bali  

by on Monday, 19 November 2007No Comment | 1,811 views

A big religious ceremony in Bali is always marked by the presence of a sunari, a tall bamboo flute made of a long bamboo pole. Two varieties of bamboo tiying (bamboo) tamblang and tiying gading are commonly used to make a sunari. Sunari is made by drilling holes on the bamboo; the holes in the sunari are not round, but are a series of precise shapes carved into the bamboo in a specific order. Sometimes the holes resemble hollow lines, stars, or crosses, crescents, teardrops, etc, the numbers and shapes of holes determine the kind of the sunari.


Upon completion of the sunari, a purification ceremony is performed before it is installed. An auspicious day prior to the ceremony is chosen for installation of the sunari (ngunggahang sunari) and a special offering is needed for the installation of the ceremony. Sunari is usually installed on the southeast corner of the venue of the ceremony either standing on the ground or placed high up in a tree, the height of the sunari range from 15 to 20 meters. A decoration in the shape of a monkey made out of black palm fiber is attached on the top curve of the sunari. This figure symbolizes the semi-divine monkey, Hanuman, son of Wayu (the god of the wind). Hanuman’s figure atop the sunari functions to lure the god of the winds to send wind, causing the sunari to sing. some say that the sunari functions only as an ornament to signify a big ceremony is going on, others say that the sound of sunari invokes the gods to attend the ongoing ceremony.


Sunari produces an extraordinary beautiful sound from the air stream going through the holes when blown by the wind; so beautiful that a singer with good voice is said to have a voice like sunari blown by the wind. Oddly enough, the sound of the sunari can not be heard when someone stand directly under the sunari; it can only be heard clearly from a long distance away.

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