Power, Ecstasy, and Englightenment: The Role of the Bale Kambang in 17th Century Balinese Kingship

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Pham, Daniel M.D.
thesis / dissertation description
Our current understanding of Balinese political mechanisms during the pre-colonial period is imbalanced. Most recent studies either emphasize the performative ritual aspects of Balinese courts or the genealogical texts to reconstruct the social, political and religious environment of pre-colonial Bali. While both methods have provided valuable insight into Balinese statecraft, scholars employing these methods often downplay the role of art historical evidence. My research is the first comprehensive art historical case study of the Bale Kambang at Puri Semarapura. This work examines the meaning and significance of the Bale Kambang, both art and architecture, to posit the function of the site within its historical context. By placing the Bale Kambang within this historical and cultural milieu, there is convincing evidence to suggest that the Bale Kambang was significant for royal attainment of spiritual power and essential to the maintenance of a king’s realm.