Ceramic firing techniques never developed into an advanced craft on
Bali. Up until the early 1970s, precious green Sung dynasty plates would
still occasionally turn up. On some Balinese temple walls dating from the
last century, valuable ceramic bowls and saucers of European origin have
been embedded in plaster (visit Puri Anyar in Krambitan village, Tabanan).
Even "Kitchen Ming" chinaware plates, once used in common trading
and bartering, are now becoming scarce, only available on Kuta Beach at
For modern ceramics, check out Sari Bumi on Jl. D. Tamblingan opposite Batu Jimbar in Sanur. Started by New Zealander Brent Heslin, these functional, high-fired glazed ceramics include salt and papper shakers, ashtrays, small vases, etc. All the major hotels carry his stuff. Also check out Nacha in Legian for housewares, tea and dinner sets, vases, lamps, etc.
A distinguished ceramics designer, Kay It, lived and worked in Tabanan. Born of a Chinese-Balinese family of shopkeepers, It was one of Indonesia's most promising modern impressionistic artists until he died suddenly in 1977 at the age of 39. It's tall totem poles and other ceramics on the landscaped grounds of the Bali Hyatt in Sanur remind one of the ancient Incan and Aztec designs. It's works can also be viewed in the Neka Gallery and Puri Lukisan in Ubud, and his influence can still be seen in the designs of many small ceramics available in Bali's markets: ashtrays, candleholders in the cili style, and tiles for wall hangings.
Pottery and Terra-cotta
Although bamboo and pandanus containers largely take the place of pottery, the Balinese do produce artful and pragmatic terra-cotta articles and various clay vessels, embellished with patterns by artisans using the same tools and methods as woodcarvers. Found in almost any village market on Bali, the pottery is brittle and great care must be taken in transporting it.
Kapal, 10 km to the west of Denpasar, is another pottery center where the island's distinctive red pottery is produced—vases, flasks, lamp bases, ashtrays, clay figurines, standing yard sculpture and statuary, lamp bases, concrete shrines. Be sure to see the ceramic lanterns and traditional slitted clay coin banks in the shape of pigs, horses, dogs, etc.
Other pottery gerabah (sellers) can be found in Ubung, northwest of Denpasar. In Dulung village, 3.5 km past Krobokan beyond Seminyak (at T-junction, turn left), is a ceramics center which produces delightful ashtrays, tissue and toothpick holders, and condiment sets in dark green, blue, sandy (abu). Orders take about one month.
Pejaten near Tabanan is a village devoted almost exclusively to producing pottery and terra-cotta. Visitors are welcome in the many co-op workshops, which turn out glazed ornamental roof tiles, soap dishes, stand-alone figurines, and wonderful clay animals with dull matte finish, celadon, or glossy glazes. A shop in Candidasa (Tanteri's, on main road) and in Ubud (opposite Ubud Bookstore) sells Pejaten work.