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Author: Ron Jenkins
Published in 2014 for Agung Rai Museum of Art, Peliatan, Ubud, Bali

Size: 215 x 280 mm
Pages: 156 pp
ISBN: 978-602-70037-0-5
Price: USD 29.95


Bali has been called Asia’s last paradise, but few visitors have access to the hidden knowledge that lies beneath island’s landscape of natural beauty, enchanting dances, and eye-catching art. Saraswati in Bali gives readers an inside view of life in the village of Peliatan by examining the influence of the Hindu goddess Saraswati on a sacred temple festival and a nearby museum. 

The Pura Madya temple festival coincides with the day set aside to honor Saraswati, and the meaning of each ceremonial event, from the colorful street processions to the philosophical banter of the clowns, can be traced back to palm-leaf manuscripts dedicated to Saraswati, parts of which appear here in English for the first time. Saraswati’s teachings also provide inspiration for the paintings, performances, and rituals on display daily at the ARMA Museum. The relationship between these two community institutions offers new insight into how the Balinese reinvigorate their traditions by adapting to the global realities of life on one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations.

The Balinese worship Saraswati as the source of knowledge, beauty and the arts. Her first gift to the human race was a set of sacred alphabets known as aksara that provided access to mystical powers of healing and enlightenment. Saraswati in Bali presents Balinese beliefs in the power of art and literature through vivid photographs and lively interviews with farmers, dancers, painters, princes, and priests. The book’s collage of visual and verbal images offer fresh perspectives on the ways in which the Balinese have used Saraswati’s legacy to insure the survival of their unique cultural identity.

Dr. I Made Bandem, the former director of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts, writes that Saraswati in Bali “is essential for understanding Balinese culture.”

The book’s author, Ron Jenkins is a former Guggenheim Fellow who has been investigating and writing about Balinese culture for over three decades with the support of the Institute for Intercultural Studies, The Asian Cultural Council, and a Senior Fulbright Research Grant. Jenkins holds a doctorate from Harvard University and a master degree in buffoonery from the Ringling Brothers College for Clowns.

Saraswati in Bali will appeal to a broad range of readers including anyone interested in the evolution of traditional Balinese culture in global Asia, as well as to a wider range of readers who want to learn something about painting, theater, literature or religion in other cultures. It will also intrigue anyone curious about the role of the arts in the everyday lives of others and themselves.

Price: US$ 34.95/IDR 375.000