Kamasan Painting

Over many hundreds of years, painters in the village of Kamasan supplied the story-telling curtains, screens, flags, and long scroll-shaped works that hung beneath the eaves of royal temples of Gelgel and Klungkung and the surrounding towns and villages. Large religious and secular artworks from Kamasan also decorated the palaces and wealthy houses, throughout much of south Bali.

Narrative painting of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Balinese legends continues as family tradition in both the banjars of Kamasan today, though the painters are fewer today and the market for this traditional work is not as assured as it was in the long period before independence and colonialism.

The art of Kamasan at its best today still recalls the earliest days of Balinese painting and the story-telling traditions that continue to inspire the island’s culture.

Most of the paintings in the photo series below, dating from the late 19thto the mid-20 century, have appeared in museum exhibitions of Balinese wayang painting in the United States and Indonesia over the past 45 years.