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February, 2003

Silver bowls and other equipment are used in the many ceremonies that mark the daily lives of the Hindu population of Bali. There are an incredible number of ceremonies to mark the milestones in a person's life and the various religious festivals. The silver utensils are a critical part of the ceremonies. We had an unexpected opportunity to watch the silver making process on one of our many trips around Bali. We had stopped to see a cock fight, but nothing was happening so we decided to leave. As we returned to the car, we saw a small shop selling a variety of goods, including silver. We could hear the sound of hammering coming from the compound behind the shop. So, of course, we followed the sound to its source.

The family that owns the shop was very kind to allow us to watch, ask questions, and generally get in the way. Ketut was our guide on this day, and acted as interpretor. As we were leaving, he bought some holy water dispensers for use in his home ceremonies.

Hammering. nul The process of turning a sheet of metal into a bowl begins with repeated hammering to compress the metal, causing it to curve inward. This will eventually create the bowl shape. (This technique has been used throughout history. The Roman legions used the same process to make their helmets.) The metal must be heated and quenched in water periodically to prevent it from work hardening and cracking.

Planting rice. nul Repeated hammering eventually produces a bowl shape. There is still a lot of work to be done to finish this piece.

Rice fields. nul The silver is soft and will crumple if it is worked without support. Here the basic shape has been hammered into the metal from inside the bowl. Next, the bowl was filled with asphalt and a wooden block to support the metal. Now the surface detail is being hammered into it. A closeup shows the level of detail that is required.

Mature rice. nul The finished bowl. This is only one of the many silver implements which are necessary to conduct the ceremonies required of each Balinese Hindu family. Although the individual items are surprisingly inexpensive, considering all the labor involved in their production, the total cost can be quite daunting for all but the richest families.

Bali Index
A Month in Bali | Working in Bali | Walls
Ketut's Place | Silver | Pejaten Ceramics
A Taste of Bali | Temples | — Photo Gallery
Community Life | Rice Culture |  

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