The existence of the kulkul (wooden bell) is inseparable
from social life in Bali. It is an integral part of Balinese
religious and cultural activities, as well as being a unique
part of the banjar (Balinese traditional social organization).
The kulkul is usually hung inside the pavilion standing
on four pillars with a thatched or tiled roof. The pavilion
is often placed on a square shaped tower constructed of
sandstone and brick. This pavilion is locally known as bale
kulkul ("a place where the wooden bell is hung").
The bale kulkul and the bale banjar are a well-matched
pair, and are placed in the same yard. The kulkul is sometimes
in the tower of the bale banjar. It maintains its important
role as an easily recognised and readily available instrument.
The bale kulkul is built at the front corner of the bale
Being at the top of a tower, the sound can be heard over
a large distance and immediately attracts members' attention.
Since in a village there are several banjars, each banjar
has its own kulkul, and the distinctive sound will enable
members to distinguish that the one being beaten is their
The signal that is beaten out on the kulkul can be understood
through its rhythms. The various kinds of rhythms produced
are referred to as "tabuh". It carries a message
of happiness, grief or regular events such as notification
of marriage of a banjar member, emergency news of the death
of a member, signal for help of a house burning, the regular
monthly meeting and reminding members to be present at their
In addition, the kulkul can always be found in the temple,
and is located at the front corner of the temple yard. The
kulkul pavilion, in this case, can be a simple or elaborate,
depending on the type of temple. The beat of the kulkul
in the temple indicates the beginning and end of ceremonies.
At times, it is also beaten during the actual course of