Traditional irrigation of Bali
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Rice Farmer

One unique organization in Bali is he association of Subak which has the function of bringing the distribution of water evenly and appropriately among their members. The member of he subak association are those who owns land and needs water supply to grow rice. Depending on the capacity of water supply, the number of the member are varies from one association to another. The name of this association is " Sekaa Subak" basically mean oragnization or water, since lately in no clear concept appear the term of " Subak Abian " which is not make sense. While Subak in relation with water is cross border traditional organization which is already exist such as banjar or desa or even formal border set by modern government of Indonesia. Every subak organization is an independence organization autonomous in their administration, in case land owner has 2 plots of land and each belong to different subak organization, then he/she must enters 2 memberships.

Water Source

The source of water is taken from river which is splited deep in inner part of Bali or high land. the expert of water canalling has been able to asses how to measure the gravitation level so as when the water flows reaching the rice field it is exactly as planned although some higher land might do not get water. The long way of canal sometimes has to pass difficult areas which is impossible to dig open canal. For example when crossing high and deep ravines, steep drop high hills and others.

Under Ground Canal

In this situation a canal must be dug as subway which is to often a subway can not be Temuku Betonmade directly on surface but must be under ground. It is amazing that the subway canal expert of subak since ancient time has developed their skill what traditional tools that they can dig subway canal with many turnings under soil and still can exactly arrive at the appointed spot.The technique of digging subway canal is not always worked from one side, but to often from both sides of a ridde or crossing mountain, which is according to our assumption they will experience hard way to meet each other underground, but in most cases they did.

Water Distribution

When the water flows reaching the area where the subak members land, a unique traditional way of distributing water evenly is made called " Tembuku ". At first the volume of the water is counted and theorically distributed to all members. Then after the figure of each member is found, normally with centi meter, then made a divider by wood ( today mostly renewed with concrete ) to flow the Temuku amount of the water per minute.


Each member of subak is further bound by the obligation of maintaining water canals from their dam to the main canal plus worship of the temple called " Pura Bedugul or Pura Batur" or " Pura Melanting" Indeed the organization of subak is a separate jurisdiction from the traditional organization of settlement of Banjar and Desa which is by Arab word called " Adat", then on the writing of western observers called " adat law " As a co-ordination between the organization of subak with their government of Indonesia representative is maintained at the level of local government called " Pekaseh " This representative would work on various relations such as land administration relating to traditional law, fund assistance from government if any, and any other recommendation from both sides.

Government Protection

It is a pity that until today no regulation is made concerning this very important heritage of Bali. According to the writer a regulation at least at the local governmnet which is called Perda is a must to maintain respective interest which in turn also support the the managability of the area, due to the rapid changes of social and physical aspect of Bali. With the formalizing of traditional regulation then the government has the legal basis to budget the need of Subak maintenance and development if then government consider this heritage could be a sustainable life support of Balinese, not only based on traditional consencuss.

Keepint Organization

The subak organization is headed by a chairman called Kelian subak, who leads the members in establishing the subak order from type of infringements and its sanction to the schedule of rituals and subak temple maintenance. The power of worldly rules and sanctions are given the special ritual to enforce the power of the rules, that is will not only wordily punishment falls on person who has acted against the consent, but also the power of invisible being that will punish the actions. This means that although an action is not detected by human being due to the tricky way of member to steel the water beyond his quota, then the punishment will go on by spiritual guardian of god who reside subak temple. This double sanctions have been very successful in maintaining the quality of water distribution, although during the driest season where the volume of water drops to the lowest supply. In the past during the opening of irrigation which was followed by a ritual of thank at subak temple it might be followed by oaths and curses which prevents the offence of the members consent.

Bali tour program which can give a glimpse look on a distribution of water for irrigation can be joined such as tour program to Jatiluwih rice terrace and Batukaru temple a tour program to the center of west Bali where the organization of subak has been very successfully and known as the rice granary of Bali. During the tour to Besakih Temple also can stop some where on the way, as on the way can still be seen rice terraces with beautiful views, but not as good as those on west central Bali. When visiting Tanah Lot Temple also can see the distribution of water, the tembuku, yet need to walk from the main road to deeper area where the rice field still maintained very well. A special subak and irrigation tour can be arranged also on special request combined with Bali farming activities at Krambitan village

Garis Bali

Bali Clothing
Bali Coffee
Bali Cuisines
Bali Traditional Healing
Bali Holiday
Banjar Settlement Unit
Flower for Rituals
Keris Traditional Weapon
Kulkul Traditional Bell
Subak Irigation
Tajen Gambling
Tirta Gangga Park
Traditional Market


Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.