THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
UBUD - SAVIOUR OF BALINESE ART AND CULTURE
Hindu temples, rice paddies and monkey sanctuaries guide travellers through the tropical charm of Ubud where the combination of nature's rhythms and Indonesian culture is effortlessly stunning
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Victor Ene, Radoslav Bali, Tobias Reich
14 September 2020
If you’re looking for a diverse type of holiday that can easily make you fall in love with the place you're visiting, Ubud is just the temptation you need. The humbling Balinese towns and seductive nature have inspired more than a few film directors and novelists. Different from the stereotype of a 'hip' place, Ubud is a charming representation of all things Bali. This rare destination has become a favourite for so many travellers from all over the world and once you get there, it is easy to see why.
Walking into the streets that bathe into hypnotic mindfulness, you will find yourself surrounded by sustainable designs and a vivid culinary showcase that will make you want to see every part of the town. Traditional Balinese culture follows travellers every step of their way across Ubud where nature gathers a community of locals, who incorporate sustainable way of living in their everyday life. Visiting this part of Bali will turn into a humbling experience that will not only rejuvenate and relax you, but it will also change your perceptions of nature.
Ubud lays on the Indonesian island of Bali and has a great art and cultural significance for the country. The town gets its name from the Balinese word ubad ‘medicine’. Originally Ubud was an important source of medical plants and herbs. The town is located among steep ravines and rice paddies in the central foothills of the Gianyar regency, which gradually became into a significant tourist destination.
Ubud is home to around 112,490 people who make a living from agroforestry plantations, rice paddies and small farms. Yet, the biggest contributor to the local economy is the largely developed tourism industry. This Balinese town greets more than 3 million foreign tourists a year.
In the late nineteenth century, the king of Gianyar – once the most powerful of Bali's southern states – had the allegiance of feudal lords who cherished arts and culture. As members of the Balinese Kshatriya caste of Suk, the lords significantly supported and renowned the arts scene in the villages surrounding the Ubud area.
Foreign artists arrived in the area boosting the tourism on the island. Walter Spies, an ethnic German born in Russia, arrived in Ubud and taught music, dance and painting. Some of the greatest Balinese artists joined foreign painters such as Rudolf Bonnet and Willem Hofker, who entertained vacationing celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin and Vicki Baum.
The 1960s saw the development of the Young Artists Movement in the area. With that and the arrival of the Dutch painter Arie Smit, Ubud was overflowing with creative energy, artistic pursuit and cultural growth. Terrorist bombing from 2002 damaged Bali’s tourism – the main economic lifeline of the island. In response, Ubud Writers and Readers Festival was created, reviving some of the island’s tourism.
Today visitors can walk through the town’s centre along Jalan Raya (‘main road’) Ubud. At the intersection of Monkey Forest and Raya Ubud roads the large Puri Saren Agung palace stands tall and mesmerising. Owned by the royal family, this is the residence of the last ruling monarch of Ubud – Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati (1910–1978). Back in the 1930s the palace was Ubud’s first hotel and today its courtyard hosts dance performances and ceremonies.
The area of Ubud is famous for the Hindu Temples including Pura Taman Saraswati and Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, the temple of death. The site of the royal tombs is The Gunung Kawi temple. Travellers, interested in local culture, also visit The Moon of Pejeng – home to the largest single-cast bronze kettle drum in the world, dating from circa 300BC.
While Ubud’s economy is highly dependent on tourism, locals put a strong emphasis on sustainability. Bali-grown brands use environmentally friendly ingredients and materials. The unique array of tropical clothing and living amenities attracts tourists’ curiosity and avoids causing waste to the environment. Apart from shopping, Ubud visitors benefit from museums, resorts, zoos and yoga. For a week each April, the Ubud Food Festival attracts local and international restaurants, who come together to recreate exclusive menus.
The art scene in Ubud is represented by galleries promoting local and overseas crafts alongside varied cultural institutions including the Agung Rai Museum of Art the Blanco Renaissance Museum and the Puri Lukisan Museum. A traditional cultural aspect in the town are exhibitions that focus less on artwork sales and more on the dialogue between local and international artists.
Every year the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival welcomes literature lovers from all over the world. Balinese dances are another highly valued aspect of the local culture. A traditional Balinese dance, called Tek Tok tells the moral story of story Draupadi Parwa – a woman who embodies the values of compassion, sacrifice and patience to overrule disasters over the kingdom or state.
A pro tip for Ubud visitors is the Campuhan ridge walk at the top of the hill where at sunset, you can obcerve two rivers – Tukad Yeh Wos Kiwa and Tukad Yeh Wos Tengen – merge into one. Travellers also visit the Ubud Monkey Forest, known among locals as Mandala Suci Wenara Wana. The area is protected and the grounds are home to an active temple. The Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal has turned into the home of approximately 750 crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) monkeys.
Do you know the eighth-century legend of the Javanese priest? Time tells the story of Rsi Markendya, who meditated at the confluence of two rivers of Ubud’s Campuhan. There, on the valley floor, he founded the Gunung Lebah Temple that remains a pilgrim destination to this day.