A Traditional Balinese Craft Rediscovers Its Roots — in Leaves
June 12, 2020
Photo Essay by AMIT JANCO
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Bali, Indonesia, you might have fond memories of white-sand beaches, ornate temples, and gracious hospitality. But for many Western visitors, the island’s most striking feature is its rich cultural heritage, including its many craft traditions. From the daily religious offerings made of rice, flowers, and banana leaves, to towering lava-stone carvings that take years to complete, Balinese craft-making skills are handed down through generations, creating lasting bonds within the island’s close-knit communities. Over time, though, traditions can shift and change — and not always for the better. Styrofoam and other environmentally unsound materials have replaced the natural materials long-used in some handmade creations, including the famed “Ogoh Ogoh” monsters of Balinese New Year ceremonies. A new wave of artisans is working to turn back the (plastic) tide.