Hand Carved Mahogany Cross
Christian Cross From Remote community In Bali
These unbelievably rare crosses are a true representation of the beauty and reach of Christianity in the modern world. These hand carved crosses made it here all the way from Bali where less than 1% of the inhabitants practice Christianity. Any Christian items from this distant land are extremely rare, but to find one of such stunning beauty and detail is almost unheard of. These stunning crosses are hand carved from a solid piece of mahogany wood, and crafted by a highly skilled Balinese artist named Nyoman Subrata. Blooming in splendid beauty, native Balinese hibiscus blossoms bring their tropical allure to these extraordinary crosses. Each cross measures 10" H x 7.0" W and weigh approximately 1 pound.
History Of Christianity In Bali
When the Dutch governed Bali, it was very different to the island of
Java. Bali was (and still is) predominantly Hindu. It had a very complex
social system and was divided into 8 kingdoms, each ruled by a King.
This made it very easy for the Dutch to deal with this island – they
just needed to communicate with 8 kings. As a consequence, the Dutch
authorities did not allow any missionaries onto the island. The official
reason was that they did not want to “disturb the culture”.
However, in 1929 a Chinese Christian Tsang To Han , a representative of the Christian and Missionary Alliance was allowed entry to Bali to look after the Chinese Christians, many of whom had married Balinese wives. Later he was joined by another CMA minister. On Nov 11 1931, twelve full blooded Balinese were baptized – the very first Balinese converts. In 1932 another baptismal service took place in the river near the markets at Denpasar, in full public view. This caused a public sensation in Bali. For the Christians publicly declared that they had disposed of all their Hindu idols and superstitions. Soon another 75 were baptized. The Dutch Resident Officer in Denpasar ordered the two ministers to leave Bali, for they were clearly no longer just looking after the Chinese Christians, but were doing illegal mission work. When they left in 1933, there were 266 male converts. Despite the absence of their two leaders, the number of converts continued to grow.
The Hindu ruling class saw this as a threat to their power. The water supplies to the fields of the Christians were cut off, landlords refused to rent their farm land to them, and they were boycotted at every turn. Their crops were destroyed, their houses burned. Individual Christians were often attacked and beaten to death. It took great courage to maintain their faith in these trying conditions.
In 1934 the Dutch Reformed Church sent Dr Hendrik Kraemer to Bali to assess the situation. The result was that the church sent two Javanese ministers to care for the new converts, and so they came under the umbrella of the Dutch Reformed Church in east Java until 1942.
The ever increasing number of Christians became an embarrassment to the Dutch authorities who were committed to maintaining the Balinese culture. The whole social structure of Balinese society is inseparable from the Balinese Hindu religion with its castes and governing system. The Hindu leaders quite rightly saw Christianity as a threat to their power. As the violence escalated, the Dutch authorities in 1939 offered to give every Christian family 5 acres of land in a malaria infested piece of jungle at the west end of Bali. The Hindu’s were delighted with the solution. They were convinced the Christians would die of malaria, and those that would survive would be eaten by the tigers or be bitten by snakes.
Some 29 families set out to make the malaria infested swamp a place fit for living. They carved out a clearing in the shape of a cross , and built their village. They were leaderless, but supported one another and worked hard without any support from outside sources. They felt they were an “orphan” church. Yet under God’s hand they prospered, and developed their village into a model community and developed a Bali wide reputation for the quality of their rice, and the cleanliness of their village. This village is known as Blimbingsari and a few kilometres away, a satellite village, Ambyarsari was started.
The form of religious practice that occurs at Blimbingsari and Palasari are unique amalgams of Christianity and Balinese culture. Church structure, dress (traditional Balinese costume) offerings, dances etc. all come from Balinese culture, minus the Hindu religion.