Pre-Hindu villages were linear in layout, with meeting houses and long houses running down the spine of the village. The rustic village of Belantih on the slopes of Gunung Batur, with its long, flat avenues, is an example of Bali's prehistoric village layout.
With the Hindu influx 500 years ago, Aboriginal long houses were replaced by courtyard homes. Though there are enormous variations, a Balinese village usually consists of walled family compounds lining tree-shaded dirt lanes. Even in big towns like Bangli, Amlapura and Ubud, this traditional layout is still evident.
People live virtually outdoors. The street outside each courtyard dwelling is actually the village living room/lounge area. The land in back of and/or in between the compounds is planted with banana, papaya, coconut, and breadfruit trees. Nearby woods provide bamboo, rattan, pandanus and wood. Under the coconut groves sloe-eyed midget cattle graze. In a nearby stream is the village bathing place.
Since all land belongs ultimately to the gods, who lease it to the Balinese so they may live, the concept of absolute land ownership is unknown here.
Where the two main streets of the village intersect is a miniature 'alun-alun', the village banyan tree, and the 'pasar', surrounded by such important public buildings as the village temple of origin (pura desa), the cockfight pavilion (wantilan), the 'puri' of the local 'raja' or his descendants, and the 'bale banjar', usually with a blaring TV or table tennis.
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