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  Ancient Balinese Art

AS EARLY as 300 BC, coastal inhabitants created metal bells, lances, spiral-shaped rings, bronze implements, bracelets, and magnificent woven textiles.

Although physical remnants of this culture are few, much of the spirit of these first Balinese has been passed down and is visible today in textile patterns, sculptural and dancing styles, theater forms, and rituals. In particular, the native Bali Aga of the highlands still adheres to pre-Hindu practices.

An example of a motif of pure native origin is the lovely cili figure of a girl shaped like an hourglass, seen everywhere in palm-leaf ornaments for temples, on cakes, standing in rice fields, and even made out of Chinese coins sewn together. The mysterious cili is thought to derive from the island's original rice deity, Dewi Sri.

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