Get to know the Amazing and Philosophical Traditional Balinese Houses

Indonesia is a country that is rich in art and culture. Bali is one of the provinces that has a variety of cultures, even famous to foreign countries. It is this cultural diversity that ultimately makes many tourists visit Indonesia, especially Bali. Not only its cultural arts, Bali is also famous for its exotic and amazing natural attractions. This city is also increasingly famous for the presence of Balinese traditional houses that have been preserved to this day.

So, for those of you who want to explore Bali further, it is important to know what Balinese traditional houses are and what their philosophy is. For that, see this article to the end to get all the information about Balinese traditional houses.

Philosophy Attached to Balinese Traditional Houses

Besides being rich in various buildings and rooms, Balinese traditional houses also have a unique philosophy. So, in every house building there is a belief that accompanies every step. Whether it’s about the shape, size, location, and philosophy that accompanies it. Well, for the people of Bali, there is a philosophy that says that harmony will be created in life.

The condition is that there are three aspects that are fulfilled, namely Palahan, Pawongan, and Peahyangan. Therefore, when building a house or dwelling, all three must exist, which is commonly referred to as Tri Hita Karana. Pawongan means the occupants of the house, then Pawongan is interpreted as a good relationship between the people who are residents and the environment of the house they live in.

The traditional architecture of the Balinese house itself has various decorations and carvings, furniture, and coloring. All of them have their own meaning and are not applied haphazardly. There are terms and their own meaning. These decorations are used to express the beauty of symbols and as a means of communication. In addition, the variety of decorations used also uses animals that are applied in the form of statues. These statues will also have symbols in the ritual process.

So, when you travel to Bali, especially to the houses there, don’t be surprised if there are still many offerings here and there. These offerings will usually be placed in a container in the form of leaves and flowers with burning incense. Likewise with temples, whose buildings can be found anywhere. Even in offices or shops you can see a temple.

This Balinese traditional house was built according to the Asta Kosala Kosali rules, which have terms of meaning and philosophy, and are almost similar to Chinese culture. Hence, when building a traditional house, the Balinese will pay attention to angles and directions. Because in the beliefs of the Balinese people, direction has an important meaning in the life of the Balinese. As for what is considered the most holy or sacred is when building a house in the direction of a mountain.

Why? Because the mountain is considered something very sacred. So that the direction is also sacred, which is commonly referred to as Kaja. Well, conversely, things that are considered impure will be faced towards the sea, otherwise known as Kelod. This is also a benchmark when building village temples. Because it is considered sacred, the village temple will face the mountain or Kaja, while the dalem temple or shrine associated with death will face the sea or Kelod.

These things have indeed been regulated by the Balinese indigenous people. In every life, even in terms of building traditional houses, they will always adhere to their religious and customary life. So it is only natural that every activity they carry out is based on certain rules.


Various Kinds of Balinese Traditional Houses and Their Uniqueness

Balinese traditional house has a special architecture, where the building has a structure, function, and also ornaments that have been used for generations. In fact, according to the community, their house buildings have been listed in the Vedic scriptures. The dwellings there are also likened to miniatures of the universe. The traditional house there has two parts, namely the Bentar Temple Gate and the residential house.

The gate of Candi Bentar is a Balinese traditional house. There are specific rules regarding the construction of traditional Balinese traditional houses, which include the direction, location of the building, dimensions of the yard, building construction, and also the structure of the building.

All of that is adjusted to the provisions of the local religion. This gate is the main characteristic of Balinese traditional houses. This gate is the main entrance to the courtyard and is always present in every Balinese traditional house. Then after passing through the gate, there will be a temple (a place of worship for Hindus), which is located separately from other buildings.

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In addition, there are several important elements that must be considered when building a Balinese traditional house. As there is a benchmark in the division of space. History has stated that land placement rules are governed by the Vedas (Asta Kosala Kosali).

Where the Balinese traditional house becomes a miniature of the universe, or Bhiana Agung. It means to be a place for human activity or Bhuana Alit. The construction also has angle guidelines, such as the east and north corners which are considered more sacred than the south and west corners.

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Balinese traditional houses also consist of several types of buildings, including the following:

1. Angkul-Angkul

These angkul are part of the Balinese traditional house which is the entrance to the main house. The function itself is almost the same as the Bentar Temple Gate. However, Angkul-angkul functions more as an entrance. The difference between the angkul-angkul and the Bentar Temple gate is the roof that connects the two parallel buildings.

2. Aling-Aling

The second building is the propeller. As the name implies, this building is a barrier between the angkul and the sacred courtyard. This Balinese traditional house building is believed to have a positive aura, so there is a dividing wall called penyengker. Inside the building will be provided space for the activities of its residents. Some people even use statues to act as a aling-aling, or a propeller.

3. Family Temple

The third building is the family temple. Generally, this building functioned as a place of prayer and worship. Every Balinese traditional house must have this building. Apart from being called the Family Temple, this building is also known as the Pamerajan building, or Sanggah. It is located in the northeast corner of the residential house.

Well, apart from these three buildings, this traditional house also has its own division of rooms. The following are some of the room structures and their functions that you need to know:

4. Bale Manten Traditional House

The room in this traditional house building is reserved for the head of the family or girls. It must be located to the north. The shape of the room is rectangular with bale-bale on the left and right. In Balinese families, this Bale Manten is intended for girls in the family as a form of attention.

5. Bale Dauh

Apart from Bale Manten, there is Bale Dauh which is used by the Balinese as a special place to receive guests. This room also functions as a bed for teenage boys.

Bale Dauh has the same shape as Bale Manten, which is a rectangle. However, it’s on the inside of the room, not in a corner. For its own position on the west side and the floor must be lower than Bale Manten. Then another characteristic, the number of pillars in Bale Dauh differs from one house to another.

6. Bale agreed

Third, there is Bale Sepat, which is more like a gazebo with four pillars. This place is usually used as a relaxing room for family members. With Bale Sekap it is hoped that every family member will be more familiar with one another. In addition, this place is also expected to make the relationship between family members more harmonious.

7. Bale Gede

Next is Bale Gede, which is also rectangular in shape with 12 pillars. This room has a function as a place for traditional ceremonies. So, because its function is quite sacred, its place must be higher than Bale Manten. This part of the traditional house must have a much larger size than other buildings. Because apart from traditional rituals, Bale Gede is also used to gather and serve Balinese specialties, including to burn offerings.

8. Jineng or Klumpu

Then there is Jineng or Klumpu, which has a medium size and uses wood as material. Its distinctive feature is in its higher position and is designed like a cave. Then the roof is made of dry straw.

However, Jineng is now quite rare in Balinese traditional houses with traditional materials. Jineng is currently mostly built using sand, cement and brick materials. The roof is no longer thatched, but tiled.

The building is made quite high, because it is used to store dry grain. With this room, the grain will also be protected from bird attacks and also the fungus that usually appears in damp places. Then for the bottom is usually used to store grain that has not had time to dry.

9. Pawaregen

Furthermore, there is pawaregen, which is the term for the kitchen in a Balinese traditional house. This kitchen or Pawaregen has a medium size, and is located to the northwest or south of the main house. There are two areas in this room, the first is for cooking, and the second is for storing kitchen tools. The cooking method is still traditional, using firewood.

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10. Barns

Finally, there is a granary, which is a small building made as a place to store staple food. Staple foods that are usually stored for long periods of time are rice and corn.

Various Carvings and Decorations for Balinese Traditional Houses

In Hinduism, there is a caste system that accompanies every adherent. Therefore, according to the caste system, house construction cannot be generalized. Apart from caste, different economic factors between families are also taken into consideration.

For ordinary people, the traditional houses built are usually made of clay or caps. While the nobles will use a pile of bricks as the basic foundation of their house. Then on top of it will use tiles.

Apart from these rules, in Balinese traditional houses there are also various decorations and carvings. The architecture of the traditional house is indeed made in such a way by using carvings and sculptures as a complement.
The decorations for this house are usually taken from human life, plants or animals. So, here are the various decorations and carvings that are on every side of the Balinese traditional house:


The first motif is a plant with curved flowers and leaves that are large and wide. Usually keketutan will be placed in a large place, such as the yard or in front of traditional buildings. There are many types of ketusans that are commonly used, such as tuwung flowers, wangsa, bun-buns, and other ketusans.


Next is the shell, which is a sculpture or decorative motif like a dense plant with leaves falling down like a clump of shrubs. This kind of decoration is usually placed in the corner of the upper boundary or commonly called simbar coral. Then there are also tugek joints called coral suring.


Then there is the pepatran, which is a traditional Balinese home decoration with floral motifs. An example is patra sari which is usually found in narrow areas such as pillars and blandar. Other types of patra such as pid-pid, pal patra, tendril patra, ganggong patra, and also samblung patra. All of these ornaments are made with elongated berets.

In Balinese traditional houses, the decorations used also use original colors, which use natural colors. In addition to using original colors from nature, there are also artificial original colors, such as red, blue and yellow. The overall variety of decoration used in each building is generally in the form of carvings, pepulasan, inlays, lelengisan, and pepalihan.

Apart from using decorative motifs in the form of flora, there are also decorations with fauna. Usually pictures of fauna will be engraved on the walls or other carving areas. For its kind, it generally uses folklore or legends circulating in Balinese society.

This fauna ornament can also be applied in the form of sculptures that have abstract, expressionist, or realist patterns. Fauna in buildings is also commonly used as a decoration on baseboard joints, such as using the form of an eagle, or a winged lion and other forms.

As for Balinese society, decoration in the form of fauna functions as a ritual symbol, which is displayed in the form of a pratima statue. Then for the various animal ornaments they also have their own names, such as flaws, which have the shape of elephants and also primitive imaginary animals.

The types of decoration include sae coral, goak coral, bentulu coral, boma coral, and tapel coral. There are also statues in the form of imaginary gods, or they can also be in the form of statues of garuda, turtles, oxen, monkeys, lions or dragons.

So, those were some things about Balinese traditional houses which are rich in art and culture. Apart from that, the traditional houses there also have a very deep philosophy. Every matter related to the construction of traditional houses has been regulated and adapted to the beliefs of the Balinese people, including religious beliefs. So that everything is completely orderly and meaningful. Even down to the variety of decorations in the traditional house also has its own meaning and rules.

This indicates that Bali has a very diverse cultural wealth. So it is very important for the next generation to continue to preserve it. Well, for those of you who want to learn more about Bali, you can read sinaumedia’s book entitled Mini Encyclopedia of Nusantara Traditional Houses and also Balian Dialogical Construction of Balinese Identity. Get both e-books via this link and this .