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Old 18th November 2020, 08:48 AM   #1
Anthony G.
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Default flower anyone?

I hope it is not a foolish question but anyone has any comprehension about why the men in the photo is wearing flowers on their head?
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Old 18th November 2020, 09:48 AM   #2
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It is the traditional outfit for the Balinese Barung dance... I guess.
But I have no idea of the symbolism of the flower.
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Old 18th November 2020, 12:24 PM   #3
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The flower is a hibiscus, and obviously red.

There are many ways to understand red hibiscus symbolism, but in this particular context of male dancers we can understand its use as a symbol of bravery.
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Old 18th November 2020, 02:07 PM   #4
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It is interesting especially using flower as a symbol of bravery. Thanks Alan for the info.
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Old 18th November 2020, 05:40 PM   #5
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If you notice they are also wearing a red sash.

In Hinduism red represents the Shakti.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakti

A red colored dress is put on deities who are charitable, brave, protective, and who have the capacity to destroy evil.
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Old 18th November 2020, 08:21 PM   #6
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Nothing special actually, just a tradition which is centuries old in Bali.
Bali is known by its inhabitants as Island of the Gods.
Their sacred connection is also made by (offering) flowers like Frangipani, Bouganville and Hibiscus in all its forms; a leaf, flower or its oil.

Women do (or used to in the past traditionally) wear it in their hair and men in their headband or behind their ear.
If you ask such a man, his answer would simply be
“Oh, that’s because of the God. To make them feel good en to give me blooming thoughts.”
As for the pics with knives : it could very well be connected to pentjak silat ( setiah hati) as this martial art comes in many forms and ways.

Not only styles derived from animals but also in its variances of the different peoples and nations of the Indonesian Archipelago.

In Bali f.i. modern pencak practitioners often wear headbands. There are about four main systems considered purely Balinese.
The most prominent of these is Bakti Negara, which is firmly rooted in the old local Hindu philosophy of Tri Hita Karana.

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Old 18th November 2020, 08:42 PM   #7
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Marius, in Bali the Hindu belief system is not quite the same as in maintream Hindu belief, the Balinese belief system is "Bali-Hindu", and it is a combination of Hindu beliefs, Buddhist beliefs and Balinese indigenous beliefs.

All symbolism needs to be interpreted in accordance with the context, and there are many contexts and many ways in which to interpret most symbols. Probably an easy way to understand this is to think of symbolism as a language, it carries a message, just as does language.

My native tongue is English, specifically English as she is spoke in Oz, that is, Australia. In order to be understood by all people who have a knowledge of English I need to try to write my public English in a form that the linguists tell us is known as "Standard English". My writing does not represent the way in which I speak.

However, in both these variations of the English language (Standard English & the Australian dialect), the same word can have different meanings, dependent upon the context in which it is used. We cannot necessarily understand the meaning of a word if we take that word out of context, and we often cannot understand the context if we read, hear or see only a part of the entire context.

I have greater or lesser knowledge of several other languages, and what I have said of English also applies in those other languages.

If we consider the colour red in the context of Bali, we need to consider it in its dominant role in Bali, and that is as a part of the Balinese mandala. The Balinese Mandala is the Balinese representation of the universe and in order for our little part of the universe to be in harmony with the greater universe we need to put our world into alignment with the greater universe. We do this (in part) by arranging things in accordance with the mandala, which you will find here:-

https://www.murnis.com/culture/balinese-symbolism/

In accordance with the Balinese mandala , red is the colour of Brahma.

But in this picture that Anthony has posted we are looking at a dancer in Bali, and that dancer is wearing red hibiscus flowers, one behind each ear. The hibiscus flower is a symbol, a flower behind an ear is a symbol, there are two ears, so three possibilities, the hibiscus flower is red.

He is dancing a particular dance which is a part of the Calonarang drama that presents the eternal fight between good & evil, with good represented by the Barong, & evil represented by Rangda. Of course when we mention either of these characters we enter a whole new waterfall of symbolism --- so we won't go there right now.

To be able to fully understand Balinese symbolism one needs to be born Balinese and to have been trained in this from childhood. The best we can do as outsiders to the Balinese socio-cultural structure is to skirt around the edges and pick little snippets of understanding as we progress.

So --- Bali > dancer > hibiscus flower > the flower is red > one flower behind each ear > the dancer is performing in the Calonarang > he is male.

How should we interpret this symbol of a red hibiscus flower behind each ear worn by a dancer performing in the Calonarang?

Well, the general understanding in Bali is that a red flower worn by a dancer indicates bravery, so rather than get into all the other interpretations I tried to keep it simple.

I might be wrong.

Any Balinese Brahmins out there?
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Old 18th November 2020, 09:27 PM   #8
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why not go to the source directly ?

Pura Agung Jagatnatha; museum and temple in Denpasar

phone : +62 361 431229
web: https://www.denpasarkota.go.id/
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Old 18th November 2020, 09:32 PM   #9
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Not Balinese, but wondering a bit over the symbolism of three.

I get Lt ear, Rt ear, both ears. Would it occur to the Balinese that there is a fourth possibility, namely no flower? Three is a magic number to some; four also has its adherents. My supposition is that this is strictly a concern over the flower and its placement, but I thought I should ask, anyway.

Are you aware of any specific meaning regarding the number/placement of the flower(s)?

These questions pop into my mind, and you know, the only stupid questions are the ones not asked, I'm told, though I do try to push the envelope . . .
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Old 18th November 2020, 09:48 PM   #10
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a few Bali pics;

2 wooden statues from 1940- early 1950 and one stone statue from a temple
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Old 18th November 2020, 10:26 PM   #11
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Yes Bob, of course, but we were talking about presence of flowers, not absence of flowers.

You're right about three being special.

In Bali everything comes in threes:-

Balinese people think of everything as having a three part construction:-

the sacred high part, the ordinary middle part, the unclean low part

things belong in either the outer world or the inner world, problems in either world can be reflected in the other world.

Anyway, everything, and I do mean everything, comes in threes:-

the cosmos, Bali itself is divided into three, temples, building forms, images, religious symbolism, offerings, language, human body, life, understanding, rituals --- absolutely everything, what I've listed above is just what comes to mind immediately.

When it gets to the number three you need to remember that in all dealings, all contacts, everything in Bali is in three parts.

You can start with the Trimurti:- Siwa, Brahma, Wisnu

and beginning there you can go to the Balinese Mandala.

Yes, number of flowers or anything else, placement of anything, colour of anything. All these things and a myriad of other things and relationships can be interpreted just as a language is interpreted.

All of Balinese life is concerned with maintaining the correct harmonious balance but to understand exactly what this is it is pretty much as I said before:- you need to be born Balinese.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 18th November 2020 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 19th November 2020, 12:29 AM   #12
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Dear all, thank you for sharing these valuable information. Something for me to write in my keris diary for this weekend. Cheers.
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Old 19th November 2020, 12:51 PM   #13
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Wow...
Thank you for this thread and all the answers it stirred! 😊
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