featured article
Subak Museum
provides a
flashback of
Balinese rural life

The Subak (farmers' organisation) has been an important organisation in Bali for nearly 1,000 years, as is amply demonstrated in the Subak Mandala Mathika Museum in Sungulan Village of the Tabanan Regency - about an hour's drive from Denpasar. While the main function of the subak is to maintain the irrigation system for the abundant padi fields in each locality, the museum also shows the variety of ceremonies commonly conducted at various stages of the cultivation cycle. A host of traditional tools and kitchen equipment is also on display.

The museum came into existence due to the growing realization that the subak system was gradually being eroded as padi fields become unfertile and land is increasingly sold for other purposes (building, usually). While the subak system is still a central part of much of traditional Balinese village life, it would be a shame if it were steam-rolled in the pursuit of modern lifestyles and the tourist dollar. Artifacts demonstrating the depth of the tradition include manuscripts written on palm leaves and carvings in copper plate, such as the manuscript of Purnama Sri which gives depicts early rice farming techniques. These fascinating documents reveal that rice farming is not just the day's work, but is also intertwined inextricably with Balinese social norms and sprituality.

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