• Life at Tenganan

    Despite being a popular tourist site, the villagers of Tenganan have been able to continue
    their daily life unaffected.

  • Rice fields of East Bali

    The slopes and valleys of Mount Agung are blessed with fertile land which have resulted in
    amazing rice field landscapes.

  • Baskets for sale

    Like any other place in Bali, the ancient village of Tenganan also profit from the hundreds
    of visitors they receive every day. Souvenir shops are given a spot here too...

  • Tenganan village

    The houses and layout of Tenganan are different compared to the other Balinese villages
    you see across the island.

Tenganan village, where time stood still...


Tenganan Pegringsingan is an ancient village in Bali and can be found 3 km inwards west from Candi Dasa on the slopes of surrounding mountains, rice fields and forest. It is said that they are the original descendents of Bali and that their ancient traditions and believes differ from those of the majority of the Balinese.

Despite their ancient ways of life, don’t be surprised to roll over the tourist stuff at the parking lot as the villagers have embraced tourism as a way of making some extra pocket money.

 

tenganan village where the bali aga live
Tenganan village is surrounded by a wall with 4 gates

 

Tenganan Pegringsingan is surrounded by solid walls and you’ll only find 4 gates: north, south, east and west. When you enter through one of the gates you’ll find identical shaped houses with a small courtyard, storage room and sleeping rooms. The village measures around 500m by 250m and has a rectangular shape. Something you can't find in many other villages on Bali.

Early in the morning the village drum beats up to 21 times awaken the Tenganan villagers so they can start with their daily chores. In the evening around 9.30 when the village council meeting has ended, the four lowest ranking members of the council walk around to announce the curfew. If you want to be part of the council you have to be born in the right street.

The first two streets in Tenganan belong to members of the council and they control everything which belongs to the village. Those living on the third street do not belong to the council and this street is reserved for those men who marry somebody from outside the village. A woman who wants to marry somebody from outside the village can't stay in the village and will have to live just outside Tenganan Pegringsingan.

 

lumbung rice barn in tenganan bali near candidasa
Tenganan looks like an open air museum

The villagers share as much as they can with each other, there is no ownership of property or goods within the courtyard. 99% of the villagers share the same blood group O, which has even let to some inbred and defects. Ultimately this means more men will find a woman from outside the village, live on the third street but they can keep hold of their land.

Tenganan Pegringsingan village has strict rules and regulations and because of it approximately only 300 live in the village. In the past those that did not follow the rules had to leave the village. For instance the customary village law forbade anybody to marry outside the village, polygamy or to divorce. Because of the strict rules many have left and there’s a population growth of zero, which had led to a new interpretation of the rules. Today it’s OK to marry somebody from outside the village however the one from outside the village has to undergo a fake cremation ceremony in order to return to the village as a new Tenganan inhabitant.

 

bali aga village tenganan bale

 

On the main street you’ll find many caged hens in every color of the rainbow waiting for their next cock fight, some rice barns, shrines and the many pavilions where people come together and make decisions about the village.

It looks like a shabby ancient village, different from other beautifully decorated Balinese villages but it is said that Tenganan Pegringsingan is the most prosperous in the Karangasem Regency or even on the entire island.

 

typical tenganan bali aga house
One of the houses in the village

Is this because there are a lot of tourists coming to the village?

Not at all. Yet Tenganan Pegringsingan owns around 1000 ha of fertile rice fields on the slopes of Mount Agung which are rent out to other farmers so the Bali Aga of Tenganan can focus on rituals, ceremonies or making palm wine.

'Their smart thinking is also found back in a legend on how the boarders of this village was set. Legend says that King Bedaulu offered a reward for the return of his favorite horse. The horse was eventually found dead near the village Tenganan. Despite being dead, the king decided to offer the local people the area of land as far as the smell of the rotting horse could be smelled. The ministers of the king were given the order to set the boarders based on the smell. They walked long distances, however the foul odor always seem to be very much present. After walking kilometers on end, the confused minsters eventually decided to stop and set the boarder. Once the officials returned to their posts, the village chief pulled out a large chunk of dead horse from under his clothes....

That is a legend everybody can learn from ;-)

 

tenganan bali lontar calendar merchant
Tenganan inhabitant with his calendars and cool hairdo too

 

Profits from the rice fields are evenly divided among the villagers and when someone makes extra income through the sale of tourist items it can be kept as additional individual income. This is the perfect place if you want to buy some Balinese calendars on lontar (special palm species) leaves.

The women of Tenganan Pegringsingan are famous among the Balinese for their exceptional weaving techniques producing very special double ikat cloths.

Pegringsingan is derived from the word 'geringsing' or gringsing, which is a woven product only to be found in Tenganan. The locals belief that geringsing has special powers, wards of bad spirits and protects them from evil.

Every house seems to have a small sign with ‘ textile double ikat weaving demonstration' except for the houses at the end of the main street and the second biggest street on the right. The women work for months on end on these cloths and the traditional ‘kamben geringsing’ has patterns, which the villagers believe were designed by God Indra himself. Unfortunately there are only a handful of woman left who are able to to weave this way.

 

kamben geringsing textile in tenganan bali
Me shopping in Tenganan High Street ;-)

 

The pattern on the cloth is dyed the warp and the weft threads and the process of dying this cloths can take up a couple of months and sometimes even years. The colors used in the geringsing are red (from the roots of sunti trees), black (from Taum trees) and yellow (from one-year old candlenut oil).

The people of Tenganan Pegringsingan believe they are the chosen ones from God Indra and are predominately Hindu people with a strong believe in animistic spirits just like the rest of Bali. The difference between the other Balinese people lies in their rituals, ceremonies, music, dance and the burying of the death instead of cremating them. Even though Tenganan seems somewhat touristy, it is still worth to pay a visit if you want to do something else besides lurking around the pool.

Try to arrive early in the morning when there are hardly any tourist buses, you have the whole Aga village to yourself and this makes it ideal to chitchat with some of the villagers as well ;-)


Home > Bali Sights > East Bali Sights > Tenganan

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