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Tika: Balinese Traditional Calendar  

by on Saturday, 1 September 2007No Comment | 2,934 views

Most of the temple anniversaries and ceremonies in Bali are held based on the traditional Pawukon cycle. The Pawukon cycle also called uku or wuku, was brought to Bali in the 14th century with the fleeing Hindu follower of the collapsed Majapahit empire. The Pawukon calendar flourishes in Bali though it originated from Java. The Pawukon cycle provides the reference system for most of the religious ceremonies in Bali, as well as market days, temple anniversaries, personal anniversaries, good and bad luck days, and days for doing particular things. A Pawukon “year”, which lasts 210 days, should really be thought as a cycle, since no record is kept of successive “years”, nor are they numbered or named, they just pass by. (image from http://www.louisg.net/C_balinais.htm)

The Pawukon cycle is quite complex since its 210 days are subdivided not according to simple system of months and weeks but into ten separate week systems. There is a week that only consists of one day; one consists of two days; one consists of three days, and so on, up to ten-day week. And they all run concurrently. And to add more complication on the cycle, Pawukon cycle also divides its 210 days into another thirty weeks known as Wuku. Each Wuku has its own name; each week consists of seven days, luckily there is no unique name for each day in these Wuku weeks.

A traditional calendar which is carved of wood or painted on cloth called Tika is used to keep track of the most important of weeks and days in the Pawukon cycle. This calendar contains no writing instead geometric figures such as dots, triangles, dashes, and circle symbolize the various auspicious day. The Tika is laid out like a chart, the vertical axis consisting nine rows, a heading, and a footing row, and seven rows, each corresponding to one of the days of the seven-day week (Saptawara), with the days listed at the left and Redite (Sunday) at the top. Across the horizontal axis are 30 vertical columns, each representing one of thirty seven-day weeks with the week name on at the top, from Sinta at the left to Watugunung at the far right. The Tika is read vertically downward rather than across, beginning at Redite of week Sinta and reading downward rather than across, beginning at Redite of week Sinta and reading down, until past Saniscara of Sinta, when one goes back to the top – Redite of week Landep – then back on down. (image from http://www.seasite.niu.edu/Indonesian/Marking Time Latitudes Magazine_files/vol36-6.html)

Materials for this writing are taken from Fred. B. Eiseman, Jr’s Bali: Sekala and Niskala Vol. II

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