Kerta Gosa

The town of Klungkung centers around the Puri Smarapura or ‘Palace of the God of Love” kerta gosaformer home of Bali’s most illustrious line of kings. Unfortunately, all that remains now are the great gate and garden, and two pavilions with magnificently painted ceilings. These are the Kerta Gosa Hall of Justice overlooking the town’s main intersection, and the larger Bale Kambang or Floating Pavilion just behind it. The rest of this splendid complex was razed to the ground in 1908, during the royal mass suicide or puputan (‘ending”) against the Dutch invaders. This event removed the last obstacle to Dutch domination of the island. A monument commemorating the puputan now stands across the road.

The Kerta Gosa was a place for the administration of traditional justice in precolonial times by a kerta-gosa-02council consisting of the great king and his priests. The Paintings on the ceiling tell of the punishments awaiting evil-doers in hell, and of the delights of the gods in heaven. Different levels and stations in heaven and hell are described through the story of the hero Bima, who journeys to the underworld to save the souls of his parents. These scenes were used to alternately threaten and cajole anyone who appeared before the court.

Like the Sistine Chapel, the Kerta Gnsa presents a whole complex of ideas on the workings of fate and the role of the divine in human affairs. The ceilings themselves have been repainted three times in recent memory. The last complete refurbishment occurred in 1960 under the famous artist Pan Seken, although in 1984, weather damage caused a number of panels to be repaired.

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