The time has come for the things to buy in Bali. We covered the most popular landmarks of Bali so far, famous temples being among the first. And I did mention a few things I bought in Bali, but I feel I should dedicate the whole post to souvenirs and things to bring from the island. Why? Well, maybe because I was surprised by a few places I visited but also because none of these things were expensive and they help the community and local craftsmen singificantly.
Things to buy in Bali
Remember the sarong I mentioned in one of the previous posts? It’s the so-called batik, typical for Java and Bali. It’s a fabric richly decorated using a special dying technique. Many batiks are used as sarongs and I bought one before going to the Mother Temple. Given that I knew I am going to visit various temples during my travel to Bali, and that I would need a sarong and a sash, it seemed like a better idea to buy batik, than to rent a sarong every time. Bali produces some exceptionally fine hand-made batiks in small quantities. A single cloth can take years to finish!
When going around the island, make sure to stop by one of the textile workshops where women are making batiks from scratch. I was fascinated by their skills in dyeing cloth in so many details and such variety. Batik is wearable art for the average Indonesian. Colorless cotton fabric becomes the canvas for wax vibrant designs of both religious and natural subjects. Applied colors are made from handmade dyes.
There is a huge variety of batiks to choose from, and for every taste – from expensive, textured silk sarongs with traditional motifs and handmade colors developed in isolated villages, to casual day wear featuring pop-art styling and simpler dye color technique. A batik has to be among the things to buy in Bali, don’t you think?
Visiting one of the workshops is one of the best introductions to the Balinese tradition. You can even take part in the batik class taking lessons with a skilled teacher. Either way, buying one will come in handy when going into temples and it will also serve as a unique souvenir you can use later on. I still cherish mine, always washing it in cold water by hand, since it’s handmade and so rich in colors and patterns which can be damaged otherwise.
If you are visiting the town of Ubud, bear in mind that this is the center of cultural heritage crafts. There are Balinese villages and workshops renowned for their craftsmanship in silver, woodcarving, and painting.
I told you about the Bali Dance I went to see. Well, I was fascinated by Barong’s face, the scary expression with large teeth, that can be represented by a lion’s head or some other animal. Even though Barong is the good deity according to the local tradition, its face is represented as scary to chase off evil spirits. And they say that if you put the mask of Barong on your front door, those spirits will never even consider coming near your house.
Since my guide took me to one of the wood carving workshops in Ubud, this was a great opportunity for things to buy in Bali. This time – a mask or two. The beautiful Barong mask is still decorating the wall in my study in Serbia and I am so proud of it. It went halfway around the world to be placed on that wall!
If you want to see the Balinese craftsmen work, making a piece of wood into one fine art, a visit to Ubud is a must. Balinese villagers are always friendly and will even let you try out your own woodcarving skill. If you’re more interested in paintings, you’ll be happy to know that here you will be able to appreciate the famous Balinese-style paintings on display.
Silver and Gold Jewelry
And now, one of my favorite stops in the area! I don’t know if you are into jewelry or not but let me tell you – I have been a fan of silver, especially silver rings, for years. You can guess how thrilled I was when I found out that not only can I visit the handmade jewelry shop in Bali, but also the workshop itself!
The gold and silver items crafted here are of high quality and feature unique designs. If by any chance you go to the Celuk village, it might be interesting to know that almost all of the households here are home to jeweler families and that each villager possesses artistic skills in developing intricate designs and patterns. Here you can find souvenirs, rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, broaches, etc.
So, I entered one of the jewelry shops, thinking to myself that “I don’t really need another silver ring”, and that I should just go browsing around. It was really interesting to see how people were curving silver strings into patterns and beautiful lines, combined together into one lovely design of the necklace. The workshop itself wasn’t big, it seemed like a dark place where people were leaning over to their delicate work.
The shop entrance was interesting, one could guess it was the jewelry shop judging by the decoration. And when I entered the shop, well, I immediately forgot about “having enough silver rings”!
Magnificent jewelry was on display all around. The guide came in with me but after seeing my astonishment in the rings’ section, he just said “he’ll be outside”. And well, yes, it did take a while. I was in awe while going from one ring to the next, it seems that the next was even more beautiful than the previous one. I took one just to try it on, then the other… Oh my, what a variety!
But then, there it was, like waiting for me, displayed above the elegant black box – one beautiful silver ring, with my name on it! I knew that this would be the loveliest souvenir I got on Bali, it was not just something you can find or buy anywhere, this was a unique, perfect piece. I didn’t even want to bargain for it, I paid the highest price they asked – and it was still more than a half less than what they would ask back home.
And also, I saw people who made it, how amazing is that!
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