If heading north, Pura Panataran
Sasih (sasih means 'drum') is on the right side
of the road after Gedong Arca, recognizable by its
stone sculptures of wild boars and 'naga'. The chief
shrine of the 10th century Pejeng kingdom, this
'pura' is linked to the Bali Aga mountain sanctuary
of Penulisan north of Kintamani. Heading north from
Bedulu, the temple is on the main road on your right
just as you enter Pejeng.
Hanging in a high pavilion to the left, surrounded
by a wooden fence, is a superb example of Bronze
Age art, the sacred monumental bronze gong known
as the Moon of Pejeng. Considered a masterpiece
of bronze-casting, this 186.5-cm-tall hourglass-shaped
gong is thought to be the largest in the world cast
in a single piece and the oldest surviving archaeological
artifact on Bali.
Legend has it in the beginning of time, one of
the Earth's 13 moons fell from heaven and landed
in a tree. It was so bright it stopped the shameful
work of a thief, who became so angry he climbed
the tree and urinated on the heavenly object. With
a loud boom the moon exploded, killing the thief
and falling to earth as a gong. The fall caused
it to crack and the urine colored it green. To this
day no one dares touch the gong and daily offerings
are made to it.
Other legends hold the gong is the wheel of the
chariot of the moon or the earplug of the mythical
giant Kebo Iwo or moon-goddess Ratih. A highly revered
object, the richly ornamented gong is believed by
most Balinese to possess magic power. Its sounding
surface measures 160 cm in diameter.
The piece is thought to date from around 300 BC,
the beginning of the Indonesian Bronze Age. No one
knows whether the gong originated in Bali or northern
Vietnam. The gong could have been carried to insular
Southeast Asia by royal personages fleeing the Chinese.
Some scholars speculate it precedes the Mings,
and may have been a gift from Kubilai Khan to a
raja of Bali. To support the theory that it originated
in Bali, scholars point to the fact that ancient
stone molds used in casting bronze have been found
on the island.
The Pejeng 'gong' has been on continuous display
in the Pura Panataran Sasih ever since the Old Balinese
period. It's believed to be about 1,000 years older
than the Pejeng dynasty. When the great naturalist
Rumphius visited Bali over 300 years ago, the kettle
'gong' was already ancient. The treasure is so high
up in a tower-like shrine you can't make out the
detail-bring binoculars. Donation requested.