The Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy


The sites chosen for this nomination were selected to both represent and help to preserve the Balinese subak system, which manages the rice terraces of Bali. Subak is a Balinese word, which first appears in royal inscriptions in the eleventh century. It refers to a unique social and religious institution; self-governing, democratic associations of farmers who share responsibility for the just and efficient use of irrigation water to grow paddy rice.
From a comparative perspective, two features of the subak system stand out. The first is the success of this cultural innovation in creating a landscape of spectacular beauty that has provided an ecologically sustainable foundation for Balinese civilization for the past millennium. This achievement is rooted in the second remarkable feature of the subaks: their success as a system of cooperative resource management sustained by self-governing democratic institutions. 
The subaks and associated water temple networks of Bali reflect the Balinese philosophical principle Tri Hita Karana (“three causes of goodness”), which promotes a harmonious relationship between the individual and the realms of the spirit (parhyangan), the human world (pawongan) and nature (palemahan). This abstract idea is given concrete realization in the lives of the Balinese through the institutions of subaks and water temples, which give spiritual meaning to the governance of the rice terrace ecology.The water temples, subaks, forests, lakes and rice terraces of Bali are living expressions of the ancient and enduring concept of Tri Hita Karana. 



Criteria under which the Property is Nominated


(ii) Exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or
     within a cultural area of the world, or developments in architecture or
     technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design.
(iii) Bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to
     a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
(v) Exhibit an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement or landuse
    which is representative of a culture (or cultures), especially when it has 
    become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
(vi) Be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas
     or beliefs, or with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.


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