Bali Museum

The Bali Museum is situated on the east side of Denpasar's public square (alun alun). It was founded by a museum society in 1931. Its architecture and decoration combine various Balinese styles. Form a large number of interesting ancient and new exhibits here are only a few items of archaeological interest : a prehistoric bronze rattle for marking dance rhythm : two hemispheres to be mounted on a stick. Their decoration points to the Bronze Age.

Early Hindu Balinese Period are numerous clay seals and stupas, only partially exhibited. Clay stupas are small replicas - varying in hight from four to twenty cm - of Buddhist monuments, originally reliquaries, later on regarded as symbols of the Buddhist religion. They were made by bronze stamp seals and moulds. (Examples were found in Java and must have existed in Bali, too). In various Buddhist countries such clay objects were sold to pilgrims as amulets and religious souvenirs. Or reversely, pilgrims offered them to sanctuaries as ex voto gifts. In certain sacred places large quantities of clay seals and stupas were discovered (recently for instance near Borobudur , Java). The Bali Museum hoard was excavated from the edge of a small rivulet at Pejeng (Intaran). It may have been part of the srock in trade of some Buddhist monk or with doctor. (On Buddhism and Buddhist officials in the neighbourhood of Pejeng, see the paragraph on Goa Gajah). The clay material used was found to be of Balinese origin ; the impressions were consequently locally made. Some of the stupas apparently were painted over with red chalk. The stamp seals and moulds may have been inported from elsewhere, presumably India, the Holy Land of Buddhism. The lower part of the stupas contain certain tiney seals, in pairs, covered up with lumps of clay. Certain exceptionally small stupas were impressed themselves. The seals are stamped with a well-known formula of faith, the so-called ye-te formula (after the first words of either stanza line). It refers to the disintegraion of the elements composing all living beings (in other words to one of the Buddha's main teachings). But in the long run the words were used as a mere magic spell. The clay objects marked by them wee then regarded as amulets having an auspicious influence wherever they were kept. The text on another Pejeng tablet apparently served as an antidote against poison 'through the pufirying power of the Buddhas.' Sheer tantrism.

The texts engraved on the seals stamped on the clay are written in a script of Northeast Indian Origin, Early Nagari, especially used in Buddhist circles. The bronze stamps and moulds presumably date from end 8th century. The clay imprints made with them may be either contemporaneous or much later. The stupas, the formulas as well as certain small clay plaques bearing Buddha and Bodhisattwa figures evidence a Buddhist centre at Pejeng beside Sivaitic sanctuaries.

Among the other antiquities from early Hinduistic periods are several bronze statuettes - very scarce in Bali and several stone images.