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Bali: Sekala and Niskala Paperback – 11 Jan 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (11 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804840989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804840989
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

"The best book on bali for the serious visitor…Has the freshness of personal experience."—Dr. Hildred Geertz, author of Kinship in bali and Professor of Anthropology at Princeton university

in bali, what you see—sekala—is a colorful world of ceremony, ritual, dance, and drama. What you don't see what is occult—niskala—is the doctrine underlying the pageants, the code underlying the rites, and the magic underlying the dance. in this book, author Fred Eiseman explores both tangibles and intangibles in the realm of balinese religion, ritual, and performing arts.

The essays collected here topics ranging from Hindu mythology to modern gamelan music. Eiseman's approach is that of a dedicated reporter in love with his subject—he has the knowledge and patience to explain the near–infinite permutations of the balinese calendar, and yet he is still moved by the majesty of the great Eka Dasa Rudra ceremony. The author's 28 years experience on the island shows, and this book rewards close reading—even by the most seasoned students of balinese culture.

About the Author

Fred Eiseman's 28 years of experiences in bali and his love of balinese culture prompted him to write this book.

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Format: Paperback
I am Balinese and live in Ubud in the cultural center of Bali.
In the Eighties I used to see Fred Eiseman, with a notebook and pen in his hand, at temple ceremonies all over the island, and in my restaurant, taking voluminous notes. I often wondered what he was up to.
Now I know. He has produced the most detailed descriptions yet of most aspects of Balinese life and culture. He lives down in Jimbaran on the south coast, so many of his descriptions relate particularly to that area - practices change a bit in different places.
He understands the Balinese language, which is not the case with many academics, who visit Bali briefly and write learned treatises, and don't always get it right.
Fred's book is extremely well researched, and my only criticism is the detail (in places) and the repetition. That is because the book is a collection of essays. It does mean, however, that you can dip in and out of any chapter. They are self-contained, and that is useful.
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Format: Paperback
Although it won't tell you where to stay or which restaurant to visit, the book is a great, unpretensious guide to the elaborate daily rituals of the Balinese, written by an American who's developed something of an obsession with Bali. It offers the clearest descriptions available of mask making, Balinese dance, temple rituals and offerings. The book is so good you'll find it on every coffee table in Bali.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want in-depth info about the Balinese.... 16 Jan. 2013
By J. Schirle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though this book was originally published over a decade ago, it remains the best source in English for learning about the Balinese through their rituals, daily life, and cosmology. It is not casual reading, but it is also not academic, because Eiseman has such love and interest in the Balinese themselves, not just Bali as a 'paradise for tourists.'

As one reviewer said, "he has produced the most detailed descriptions yet of most aspects of Balinese life and culture. He lives down in Jimbaran on the south coast, so many of his descriptions relate particularly to that area - practices change a bit in different places. He understands the Balinese language, which is not the case with many academics, who visit Bali briefly and write learned treatises, and don't always get it right."

The Sekala and Niskala are ways of saying 'the seen and the unseen," the outward appearances of things and all the symbolic, or mystical, or ritual meanings of all the things he describes. The book is not a tourist guide to places--it's a guide to what makes Bali the fascinating place it is beyond the beaches, massages, and spas. I didn't read it until after I'd come to Bali; but a friend read it before coming and said it really helped him understand some of the things he saw. So either can work--I carry it around on my Kindle and refer to it often.

I would recommend this book to people who find the Bali life around them fascinating and want to know the 'why' of so many aspects of it. From ceremonies to masks to why garbage is placed in a certain part of the house compound, he provides the answers. Because the book is essays you can go to any chapter and not feel like you should have started at the beginning.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book 13 Aug. 2014
By James B. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
During a recent visit to Bali, I became fascinated with the practice of Hinduism there and how it influences every aspect of daily life. I recorded my guide's explanations as we went along, but I wanted to learn much more. This book, based on first hand experience, has provided all I was looking for and more. If you are interested in world religions and Balinese culture in particular, I can't say enough good things about this book. Unfortunately, the author passed away in 2013. I would have loved to correspond with him.
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing 1 Oct. 2014
By Michele Hall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is so much material here about the amazing culture of Bali. A behind the scenes insightful look at the rich customs and practices of Bali. It's like having an informed guide at your side.
4.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to understand the religion & lifestyle better. 14 Aug. 2014
By Dwaip - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am still reading, but have found it very informative. Having holidayed in Bali earlier this year, I wanted to understand the religion & lifestyle better.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book! 26 July 2014
By Whimsy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is fabulous. It is an in depth view into the Balinese culture and why they do the things they do. Fascinating and well written. Love it!
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