Item description for Island of Bali by Miguel Covarrubias...
This book describes the island of Bali and the Balinese. It considers the spirit of the dance, theatre, music, arts and sports of Bali, as well as its religion, sexual customs, family life and economic and political organization. Beginning with a picture of Bali as the casual tourist sees it compared with what it actually is, Covarrubias leads the reader deeper into the life of the island, its history and beliefs.
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Island of Bali Nov 6, 2003
Mexican painter Miguel Covarrubias set sail for Bali in 1931 on an optimistic personal quest to discover, absorb, and chronicle Bali's traditional living culture. Buy into the romance and seduction of Covarrubias-driven by a feverish imagination-- inexorably pulled towards and teased by the lure of Bali, half a world away. Travel back sixty-four years in time to Bali's unspoiled natural vistas-a happy, peaceful. pristine retreat standing apart from a West mired in crippling economic depression and poised on the precipice of World War II. As a fellow artist on an island with three million artists-in-residence (creativity is considered both a religious and a natural activity on Bali), Covarrubias penetrated deeply into the spirit of the dance, theatre, music, decorative arts, and pastimes of Bali. Embellished by 114 half-tone photos and 90 drawings by the author and other Balinese artists, this essential, still-relevant classic consists of twelve chapters on the Balinese people and their civilization in the 1930s. Accompanied by painter Walter Spies, Bali's most famous expatriate resident, they roamed the countryside together with eyes, ears, and canvasses wide open, observing the local life. Covarrubias's most notable writing describes the organization of the traditional Balinese village: the markets, social order, etiquette, language, caste system, the banjar, law and justice, the courts, the subak, rice culture, and the distribution of labor. This intimate, insider's foray into every nook and cranny of his own paradise produced key chapters on everyday family life in Bali: the house, cooking, costume and adornment, childbirth, childhood, adolescence, sexual customs, and marriage. Covarrubias explored the place of the artist in Balinese life and the development and evolution of Balinese art, crafts, sculpture, and architecture. Drama and dance are important components of Balinese life: they come alive through the village orchestras, musical instruments, classical Legong, and the ancient shadow plays. Island of Bali unveils material on priests and religion, temples and feasts, offerings and exorcisms, the Balinese calendar, and the original Bali Aga people. Written from a day when primary forests reigned supreme and witch doctors wielded terrifying power, Covarrubias delves into the cult of the Barong and Rangda, black and white magic, folk medicine, the sacrifice of widows, and death and cremation. The Balinese still lead a magical, mystical, harmonious life that is difficult for Westerners to understand unless they read a profound work like Covarrubias's Island of Bali. With an artist's sensibility and a Bali-lover's eye, Covarrubias paints a complex nirvana with words and easel in this great literary achievement.
This is the One! Aug 23, 2003
If you only read one book on Bali, read this one. Believe me, I'm Balinese.
Miguel Covarrubias, and his wife Rose,who were Mexican, went to Bali twice, once in 1930 for several months and again in 1933 again for several months. The first time they stayed in Denpasar, the capital, and the second time in Ubud, where I live.
They stayed with Walter Spies in Ubud,who was an extraordinary German, who had been living there for years, and who totally absorbed Balinese culture. My mother worked for him. He taught the Covarrubias's a lot.
They then wrote their book. It is regarded as the bible and all subsequent books owe a lot to it. Some things have changed, of course, but only on the surface. We are very traditional, especially in the Ubud area. The book is an excellent introduction to our rich culture.
The book discusses family and village life, rice farming, our Bali-Hindu religion, ceremonies, history, drama, art and dance.
It's very readable and the photographs and line drawings are great.
Bali and Balinese's culture in detail which is great!!! Jun 4, 2001
I must confess this book is thick but hey!!! It's well worth reading about for those who want to understand a little about Balinese culture as well as it's lovely people. I found it very interesting since it covered almost everything about Bali, however the book was written before World War II and well I still think it's great to have a book that is still resourceful. Even though so much has changed with Bali over the decades this book will never die surely. This is a must and is essential for those who want to have a better understanding of Bali back before World War II and they can still relate it to the present. Nothing much has changed but a few things have altered. It was like stepping back in time when I read this book... I hope everyone will enjoy the book as much as I do too... great book to have...
An Oldie but Still the best Jul 2, 2000
This book is the essential book about Bali. I read it 26 years ago when I first went to Bali and it still ranks as thee book about Bali. If you wish to learn about the Balinese people, their culture and religion and beliefs I highly recommend this book. jim
Essential reading! Apr 26, 2000
This is by far the best book available if you want to know about the people of Bali - their unique lifestyle, religion, customs and beliefs. Written in the 1930's, it still holds true today. The classic black and white photos are worth the price alone. The Balinese people still live a magical life that is difficult for a westerner to comprehend, unless you read a book like this.