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Balinese Expressions: Guardian Statues

By: Dr Stan Florek, Category: Science, Date: 02 Nov 2013

How Bedogol guards our balance and peace.

Guardian Statue: Ubud A

Stan Florek © Stan Florek

Bedogol is the Balinese name for the gate guardian statue - usually called Dwarapala. Because Dwarapala is known in Buddhist and Hindu culture, it can be found not only in Indonesia but also in Thailand, Malaysia and even Japan.

Formerly, the statues were placed only in Pura (temples) and Puri (Royal homes), but nowadays they can be found in most houses in Bali. The statues are usually placed on the left and right sides of the gate - they are an essential element of Balinese exteriors. They mark homes with stark personality, charm, beauty or eccentric figures. People are free to choose any character to be used as a bedogol.

The guardian statues are typically a pair of characters that complement each other, such as young and old brother. Most Balinese use the male-female Dwarapala to guard their homes. Sometimes they look alike, but they are not identical. Often the statues are like a mirror image rather than an exact replica. For example if one statue makes a gesture to the left, the other would make it to the right.

The statue representing the more powerful character is placed on the right side of the gate. Balinese are always concerned with directions and also with positions - left and right. The complementary nature of bedogol and their placement on both sides of the gate relates to the Balinese philosophy of good and bad, positive and negative and the essential necessity to balance these forces - to make them neutral. And it is important to know that the good does not exist without the bad or, for that matter, the bad without the good.

The bedogol’s purpose is to organise possibly unbalanced elements from the outside world, to make the positive and negative neutral before they enter the home. So, you just glance at our Dwarapala statues and walk through the gate assured of a stable and peaceful atmosphere.

Story by Ita - Putu Ayu Yunita Yastini