Home Institution

Washington and Lee University

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change


The Malat is a Balinese oral tradition and text composed of numerous episodic stories based on Javanese and Balinese courtly life of the pre-Dutch intervention era, when kings and princes dominated the political sphere and the court system governed aspects of social life. Many art forms blossomed out of this epic, notably in painting and in performance, known as gambuh. Through an exploration of the Balinese epic, the Malat, as a Balinese text, history, fine art, and performance, this study analyzes the modern cultural importance of this ancient pre-Indonesian courtly epic. Gambuh is an ancient dance-drama that serves as the origin of many other traditional Balinese dances, and plays the lead role in this study. The progression of gambuh's prominence in Bali from pre-Indonesian State to current times is discussed, and predictions of the future of gambuh are gathered from conversations with informants and from personal experiences.


Asian Studies | Dance | Other Arts and Humanities | Other Classics | Painting | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies


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