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Tedung Umbrellas of Bali

The ornate and colourful tedung umbrellas are iconic elements that frequently adorn the compounds of Balinese temples.

The ceremonial importance of the umbrella has its roots in the Hindu religion, with some academics speculating that umbrellas were first introduced in the 13th century, when they were brought to Java on a Chinese merchant ship and, subsequently, appropriated in the shrines of the Hindu kingdom.

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Today, the village areas of Mengwi and Klungkung in Bali meet the growing demand for the ceremonial umbrellas, with families and community artisans setting up small businesses to craft the handmade pieces. The village craftsmen create tedung umbrellas by fabricating the base frame out of bamboo and using cotton fabric to stretch over the frame. The two types of tedung umbrellas – tedung agung and tedung robrob – use coloured cloth at their edges and small balls made of wool, respectively.

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Different colours of umbrellas reflect the nature of the ceremony that is taking place at a temple. Each colour has a special meaning, with black and white symbolising harmony, yellow symbolising glory and other colours alluding to religious manifestations, transforming the umbrellas from everyday items to sacred ceremonial instruments.