One of the things at the centre of Balinese culture, perhaps can be said to be the certainty of one’s relationship to Nature. If art is integral to our culture, how much more is Nature. Of Stones and Trees, has been a concept from the beginning. To show you our places. Our inspirations. For our first in this series, it is the White Wood of Bayan ( or Kayu Putih Bayan).
When we started, many of the photographs taken was to explore and share this theme. How can we give a full picture of where our creativity originates whilst excluding the very environment that enriches it?
The intention was always there to share the beauty of our quiet, generous places. Yet, with health protocol restrictions affecting everyone, it was challenging to get this routine going. However, our team is pretty keen to have a regular excursion visiting different places in our areas. Not only is it much needed fresh air, but it is a simple and wonderful antidote to all the static issues that have overwhelmed everyone this year. Getting out, being in the open, feels far more natural and certainly more rejuvenating.
The White Wood of Bayan (Pohon Kayu Putih Bayan) is an ancient tree. One of the many ancient trees that is on Sacred ground and is in itself part of a Temple, Pura Babakan. Being hundreds of years old, it certainly did not appear suddenly out of nowhere. However, it has begun to attract far more attention in these recent months. Perhaps due to the growing awareness on social media, there are certainly more visitors there in the past year.
The White Wood Tree is found behind Pura Babakan, in a village named Bayan. This is in the Tabanan region, approximately 45-60mins from Ubud. Though the Tree has long been there before the Temple was built during the Kingdom of King Perean, Baturiti. The Tree and Temple became one because of a connection.
The White Wood Tree of Bayan was thought to be a ‘Bunut’ Tree or ‘Banyan Tree. Like many similar Ancient Trees in Bali. However, statements from local residents confirm that the genus of the tree has not yet been expressly confirmed. By the Ministry of Forestry or any University research teams. Their reluctance to confirm the genus of the tree is due to some particularities.
It is said the White Wood does not flower but bears fruit (we were a direct witness to the abundance of fruit on The White Wood). It has also been said that the White Wood will shed all its leaves every few months. Though Banyan Trees may shed leaves to retain moisture, it is unusual for a tree to shed leaves this regularly in a moist climate. So for all these reasons, the villagers have continued to call this tree Pohon Kayu Putih Bayan (the White Wood of Bayan).
These are some of the things we learn when we met the White Wood of Bayan. As none of us are scientists or botanists, it is simply avid interest and sheer enjoyment of the beauty there that any information is like learning more about a new friend.
However, our team treks are not a scientific expedition but of a team building routine. A refreshing exercise to make sure no one forgets how to follow a GPS system after months of being locked in! Also it is a long overdue photography excursion as well.
In this instance, it is extra special. None of us had been there before. There was a newness to it all that is in contrast to the Ancient White Wood Tree that welcomed us.
There are several articles circulating already about this Great White Wood Tree of Bayan. For example, this beautiful amazing tree, is said to be about over 500 years old, reaching over 50 meters high and spanning a diameter of approximately 60 meters. The White Wood of Bayan, is truly majestic and beautiful. One cannot fault the trending popularity of selfie shots in a location such as this. The photographs on the right were taken by the team, behind Pura Babakan, not long after arriving.
The Ancient tree, as big as it is, did not feel foreboding or over encompassing as some giant trees may do. Hundreds of little brown finches were flying in a bustle and a lot of nesting activity is taking place. As well as that, the White Wood itself is in a time bearing fruit. A peculiarity of our first moment meeting the White Wood Tree, is the consistent falling of its fruits. Not at all long intervals between falling fruits from the tree canopy, it was more like consistent sprinkle of raindrops all around us. Almost like we were being teased and nudged in a playful way.
In every way our team felt very grateful for the experience we had at the White Wood Tree.
There are a lot unsaid in a post like this. All in all, sharing through our words and our photographs, of the beauty and abiding presence that we feel in our Quiet Places. This is what we hope to continue in the future. In our exploration Of Stones and Tree, our Quiet Places.
A special note of thanks to my partner and team, for their efforts, their humour, their energy and positivity, in everything we do.
To see the latest works including those of The White Wood of Bayan visit DianSawidji on Instagram.