Why We Love Bali Jewelry: This Exotic Island's Influence on Our Artisan Designs
At Karma and Luck, we are dedicated to uniting cultures around the world and promoting wellness for everyone. That’s why Bali has held such a prominent place in our hearts. The local craftspeople we work with create exquisite Bali jewelry pieces that reflect the unique traditions of the island.
With rich symbolism, intricate designs, and stunning crystals, the amazing artists behind our jewelry imbue Bali’s unique religions, social history, and robust environment into each delicate piece.
An Indonesian Gem
Bali rests in the southern region of Indonesia, among the country’s 16,000 UN-registered islands! But compared to the rest of the country, Bali stands apart, and here’s why…
A Special Island Among Islands
Indonesia boasts some mind-bending stats, but perhaps two of its most interesting facts relate to the incredible people who carry on the culture of the islands, including Bali. The country houses the globe’s 4th largest population, and among the entire world, it is the most populous Muslim-majority nation.
While heavily influenced by the religious culture of the rest of the country – as seen through the traditional Islamic motifs of the Evil Eye in some Bali jewelry – the island province itself actually adheres to a form of Balinese Hinduism. This religious tradition derives from a long, though somewhat muddled, history of interaction between Balinese natives and Hindu conquerors.
Unique Religious Practices
Balinese Hinduism combines elements of ancient animistic practices with Hindu belief systems that were carried from India to other Southeast Asian islands through trade and conquest until it reached Bali.
That’s how Hindu symbols found their way into Bali artisan jewelry in unique designs, like our Divine Harmony - Amethyst Triple Protection Cuff, alongside potent animal talismans like the Knowledge Hunter - Silver Snake Head Pendant Necklace.
Religious practice has embedded itself in the architecture and agriculture of Bali. The island’s irrigation system, known as subak, which is used to support rice production, actually has religious importance. Within the system, temples play an important part in blessing the water sent to plants and are erected across the rice paddies. That’s in addition to thousands of other structures that serve as homes to the gods.
Even more ubiquitous perhaps are the penjor, bamboo columns built to honor and welcome the gods and ancestors to visit and bless every home. Each column has delicate ornaments attached to it, including selections of colorful produce grown on the island, which is found hanging from these towering totems.
Penjor have many different origin stories that attest to the mixing of cultures in Bali, but even more than that, these gorgeous towers show the intricate aesthetic of Balinese artistry.
Additional Spiritual Traditions of Bali
In other ways, Bali resonates the intersection of a spirit-centered, modern lifestyle. To this day, Bali marks its cultural new year on Nyepi, a day of silence. This isn’t just a suggestion – everything, including airports, close for the day. And in some parts of the island, electricity is turned off for 25 hours to ensure that every person takes the time to meditate and reflect.
Bali jewelry, like Karma and Luck’s Meaningful Existence - Red String Mantra Bar Bracelet, echoes this powerful tradition of taking quiet stock of our place on the earth.
Another interesting tradition reflects the Balinese connection to spirits and the divine. Balinese people believe that for four years after birth, a child has the protection of four guardian angels who always accompany him or her. This rooted relationship with the divine can be channeled through Bali jewelry, such as in our Divine Knowledge - Silver Heishi Lapis Lazuli Mantra Bracelet.
Historical Influences on Balinese Culture
Religion isn’t the only thing leaving a cultural mark on Bali jewelry traditions. The influence of politics and royalty have found their way into artistic designs and style.
Bali, as well as the other islands that comprise Indonesia, were hotbeds for colonial conquest. The Dutch docked in Bali as early as the 1600s to establish the Dutch East Indies and to reap the benefits of the incredible natural bounty of the Indonesian islands.
Eventually in the 20th century, the Japanese vested control from the Dutch to rule temporarily until Indonesian nationalists gained independence from the island nations. Karma and Luck use all power of market analysis to make this data for our readers.
Many former colonies have had to struggle to preserve their cultures as colonial power takes control. In Bali jewelry, we can see the influence of the trade routes over the centuries in particular notes of cultural symbols.
For example, the Evil Eye combined with natural materials in some pieces, like our Healing Protection - Agarwood Evil Eye Charm Bracelet, shows the Islamic traditions that have permeated Indonesian culture along with woods and materials native to the Southeast Asian region.
Buddhist and Zodiac iconography that has resonated from East and South Asia to meet on the islands similarly appear throughout jewelry styles – just look at our Origin of the Universe - Antique Bronze Spinning Wheel Zodiac Necklace, for example.
Alongside colonial takeover, a royal tradition existed in the region that can still be seen in Bali jewelry today. In terms of royal lineages, ten exist according to different geographic zones. Royal lineages were considered as wardens of Hindu faith, so these families helped influence how Balinese Hinduism fused animist traditions with Hindu mythology.
When we think about royalty, Amethyst supercharges our minds with images of crowns and thrones. Bali jewelry that incorporates precious, decadent gemstones as in the Spiritual Harmony - Amethyst Stone Chakra Necklace reminds us of the important role royal leaders play in inspiring the longevity of traditions.
Bali Beaches & Environmental Efforts
What have we not mentioned yet on our journey to Bali? Of course, the beach! The deep ocean waters that encompass the island float on the Soothing Thoughts - Aquamarine Evil Eye Charm Bracelet made by dedicated Karma and Luck artisans in Bali.
However, the beaches of Indonesia, and some of the most popular beaches of Bali, have reached a horrible state as plastic polluters have contributed some ten percent of plastic waste to the world’s oceans. In response, there have been amazing initiatives in Bali to eliminate all plastic use on the island.
To contribute to the beautiful efforts in Bali, Karma and Luck works with local craftspeople to design and execute the elegant Bali artisan jewelry you know and love. We don’t team with factories that mass produce trinkets; rather we partner with production facilities that put care and attention into the materials and the processes of their handcrafted jewelry.
Maybe now is a good time to mention how important Bali jewelry is at Karma and Luck – more than half of our collection comes from the amazing artists on this exotic island.
Bali is much more than a beach holiday destination. It has an intense political history that has affected how the culture of the island has merged religious symbols with its amazing natural resources like bamboo, fruits, and gems. With Balinese artisans, Karma and Luck has worked to respect and share the wonderful spiritual traditions of this island across the world.