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The Homes of Bali

                     The Homes of Bali and How They Are Built  

                               "The order of the universe defines how a building must be constructed"

Over the Centuries Balinese buildings, both sacred and secular, have been laid out according to the beliefs of sacred orientation.  It is believed that even in prehistoric times some type of orientation was used in Balinese architecture. 

To understand these principles of Balinese construction you must first understand certain religious and cosmological beliefs. Since early times the key principles of sacred orientation have been kaja and kelod axis.  Kaja means "toward the mountains" and kelod means "toward the sea".  The direction of the mountains - kaja - is believed to be the most sacred direction, since it is the direction that deities and ancestors lived. Towards the ocean - kelod - is regarded as being the direction of  evil, demonic forces. However, the land on Bali that lies between the mountains and the sea is regarded as neutral.

This system is in line with the Hindu concept of  dharma.  This means that everything in the universe has its allotted place, and anything not complying with this natural order will lead to disharmony. This special layout of Balinese architecture conforms to the Hindu ideas about the division of the universe into three realms.  They are The Tri Loka - the realm of the gods, the realm of human kind and the realm of the demons and other negative forces.

You can see this in the kaja - kelod layout and in the vertical structure of the classical Hindu temple, which is also representing the Tri-Loka.  The roof of the Temple represents the home of the gods, the middle section, where people enter to worship, represents the home of people, and the base or foot of the Temple represents the underworld and the home of demonic forces. In Balinese architecture this is apparent in the shrines found within the Temple compounds.  All these adaptations have been developed over the centuries. 

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