There are pockets of villages within Bali in which fraternization
with outsiders is strictly prohibited. These result in a
people and a culture that are different; the native Balinese
call them Bali Aga or Old Bali. The Bali Aga may curiously
be the tunnel through which we can periscope into the culture
of Bali in the centuries past.
There are two major villages of Bali Aga.
Across Lake Kintamani, Trunyan is a small Bali Aga village
that is most well-known for its huge, centuries-old banyan
tree. This sacred banyan tree serves as the laying ground
of the dead. Bali Aga people do not believe in cremation
like the rest of Bali, instead, they simply lay their
corpses under the village's banyan tree. Contrary to what
you might expect, however, the village is not uffocated
by bad odor, because the tree emits arboreal smell that
envelopes the odor of the corpses.
The village of Tenganan, on the eastern side of Bali,
near Karangasem, is well-known for its textile,
specifically the double ikat technique. A well-made
double ikat may take months to finish, and it usually
belongs to family heirloom. Certain kinds, like the black
and white, checkered cloth, are considered to have protective
power against evil spirits, and are usually used to cover
or to dress sacred items such as the statues that guard
the entrance to a temple or the masks of Barong.