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DENPASAR (indo.com): The history of Bali's painting was started long before Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet came to this island. If you are interesting in the origins of Bali's painting then Klungkung is the right place to start exploring. Your mind will fly to the golden age of the Gelgel Kingdom in the 15th century, when the painter started to become famous in the palaces.

And there are two places in Klungkung where you can enjoy and learn "The real Bali's classic paintings". First, the well-known of the Hall of Justice, Kerta Gosa. The canopy of the building was established in 18th century and is fittingly painted with scenes from Tantri and the Panji; stories of horoscopes and divine retribution for sins on earth line the ceiling in concentric circles with obvious attention to detail and superhuman effort.

They were painted by Kamasan artists, and only Kamasan artists are allowed to restore them today. The first generation of Kamasan artist that had the first chance to paint in front of the King was Sangging Mahendra.

Under the reign of King Dewa Agung Made, the king of Gelgel, ordered him to make paintings based on wayang puppets and thus Kamasan painting was born. From the beginning, Kamasan painters followed a folk-art style. The king had ordered the creation of formalized composition: beautiful, refined and ornamental. The main purpose is not only for decoration but as well as a historical record.

The painters were also farmers. In the morning, they worked the fields. Ten in the afternoon when the sun was too hot they took their painting tools and started to express their themselves. Often they worked in a group to produce a painting.

All material that is used in this process is totally from nature. The colors used were white from bones, black from soot, red from Chinese cinnabar, yellow from ochre clay, blue from indigo and brown from red oxide clay. And they painted on only the finest cotton that they starched with rice flour. They used bamboo brushes and pens to produce their magnificent art works.

When the Dutch came, many foreigners came to this island and bought Kamasan paintings to take back overseas. So it is no surprise that many Bali's classic paintings decorate many walls abroad.

The second place to enjoy Bali's Classic paintings is on Gunarsa Museum in Banda Village, Klungkung, where you can see some of Bali's painting that had been shipped abroad. This is the private collection of Nyoman Gunarsa, a painter from Klungkung, who spent his money and time to bring back the paintings to their homeland.

"I want the next generation to enjoy their heritage works and to learn about the riches of their ancestor's culture." Gunarsa said. "This is my way to dedicate my service for my homeland."

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