Julianus reviews Island of Bali by Miguel Covarrubias in the Bkwyrm archive.
Bali, for those of you who don’t know, is a small island in Indonesia famous for its art and the strength of its culture, and this is probably the best general study of traditional Balinese culture in print. Covarrubias was a Mexican artist who lived in Bali for many years in the 1930s, participated in the culture, knew the people as friends and neighbors, and probably had as good an understanding of Bali as any outsider could. This book is accordingly a classic of cultural anthropology notwithstanding that the author was “just” an amatuer in the field. The Bali of the tourist brochures is touted as a tropical paradise, which it is, but Covarrubias reveals that it is also one of the most civilized places imaginable.