Jalan Goa Lempeh, Banjar Dinas Kangin Uluwatu, Bali +62 361 3001000 or +62 361 8471000
The remarkable Balinese cultural heritage, still with us today, full of knowledge and wisdom, was preserved and handed down, from generation to generation since ancient times, by wise hands writing on palm leaves to be found in the Eastern part of Bali. Lontar - from the ancient Javanese “ron” for leaf and “tal” for the rontal tree - are considered veritable history books, an encyclopedia in which answers to the most varied subjects can be found, whether an existential question or merely one regarding daily life. These sacred pages, catalogued and named according to topic, are the result of a lengthy and meticulous process. After being gathered and dried, they are soaked for three days, then successively cleaned, dried and steamed. After being dried again, each leaf is perforated, bound and pressed. They are then formed and framed with their emblematic red margins. Another six months pass before they can be written upon with a pengerupak, a special iron instrument with a very sharp triangular tip. The lontar contain religious rules and rituals (agama lontar), medical information (usada lontar) and astronomy (wariga lontar). Then, there are epic poems (itahasa lontar), Balinese history (babad lontar) and the history of ancient Indian literature in Sanscrit (tantri lontar), theatre arts and wayang drawings on illustrated lontar (prasi lontar). However, there are even gardening tips and simple advice for dealing with the problems of everyday life. These manuscripts are considered sacred by the Balinese people who follow their teachings to commune with Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and, in her honour, every six months, the Kliwon Wuku Watugunung is celebrated, a "lontar" ceremony.