Balinese Stories

Balinese Doors

The construction of any gateway to a home or temple is an integral part of the surrounding boundary wall and the positioning of the gateway is an important element.

The basic design of any gateway,  is based upon a Hindu concept known as “Tri Angga” or three part, which is related to the human body. The top (head), center (torso) and the base (legs). This concept of Tri Angga” is carried out beyond gateway to other objects, which have shapes resembling the human from. It can be seen here that abstract art has existed in Bali for more than 900 years.

Traditional Balinese family compounds have only one entrance gate, on the side, bordering the street. The entrance defines the threshold between the inside and the outside,  and is viewed ambivalently, because while they admit welcome visitors, they may also allow in malign influences. And although the Balinese are known for their art and creativity, Balinese architecture is not subject to a great degree of decorative elaboration, with the exception of  doors and ornamental gates where much effort and expense goes into their ornamentation.

Doors are typically panelled and made from carved jack fruit, teak or rain tree wood. The decorative elements involve painting and carving, and in the case of palaces and temples or other important structures, such as the bale gede pavilion in the compound of a noble family, the ornamented surfaces may also be gilded with gold leaf.

In Balinese tradition, doors and gateways symbolize a demarcation between the realm of ordinary  life and some other plane of existence, whether it is sacred (in the temple), or political (as in the palace). One of the most striking images typically found over the monumental gateway of palaces and temples is a Bhoma head, whose fearful countenance is intended to drive away malevolent spirits.