Characters in Balinese Woodcarvings

My goal is to let you understand quickly a lot about the background of the wood carving statues and there meaning, and where come all these wooden statue characters from, in a short note you have Hindu gods, avatars, demons, and then you have the main characters who play a role in the Ramayana and Mahabharata mythology stories, I will put only the main characters below on alphabetic row from who its most likely you will find a Balinese wood carving statue of. Dewi Danu for example is a famous water goddess in Bali but usual carved only in stone, that is why its not in the list. I will put small parts of the Ramayana or Mahabharata stories by the wood carving statues to keep it all simple and clear.


Arjuna (Mahabharata)

One of the Pandavas brothers, Arjuna is a gallant warrior and a skilled archer with deadly accuracy. He is the most adored disciple of Guru Dronacharya. Along with Yudhishtira, he is on the side of 'Dharma', morality and righteousness. The name Arjuna means "one of pure deeds." He is said to be an incarnation of the ancient sage Nara. One of the greatest archers of his generation, Arjuna is described as very handsome and popular with the ladies. Besides Draupadi, he married Subhadra, Ulipi.

Amalgam (2 Gods together)     

Almost nobody have heard of this, a Amalgam is a statue between 2 goddess, for example half Ganesha and half Hanuman they can be find sometimes in temples in India but also I have also seen a old Balinese woodcarving it looks like Ganesha but the face is Hanuman.

Bhima (Mahabharata)

He was the strongest character in Mahabharata and champion in Mace fighting. Bhima was entitled to slay all 100 Kaurava brothers . Bhima was so strong that even Indra could not defeat him in battle. Bhima's half body was of vajra as boon given by Lord Shiva and Parvati to him . During childhood when Duryodhana threw Bhima into the river of poisonous snakes by giving me poison cheatingly , Lord Vasuki saved Bhima and gave him elixir which gave Bhima strength of 10000 elephants . During Mahabharatha war it was only Bhima who didnt bowed to Vaishnava Astra which was released by Karna. Bhima achieved many feats; he killed Bakasura, Keechak, Jarasandh, Hidimb, Kirmira.

Barong (Mythology character)


Barong is a lion like creature and character in the mythology of Bali, Indonesia. He is the king of the spirits, leader of the hosts of good, and enemy of Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders in the mythological traditions of Bali. The battle between Barong and Rangda is featured in the famous Barong dance and represent the eternal battle between good and evil. The lion barong is the most famous but only one of five traditional Barongs!. In Bali each region has its own protective spirit and each Barong is modeled after a different animal. The other are giant, boar, tiger, elephant and the dragon (or serpent) barong. Mostly barongs are carved as Mask but also as a statue . 


Bedogol (guardian statue)


Bedogol is the Balinese name for the gate guardian statues, in other Asian countrys its Dwarapala formerly the statues were placed only in Pura (temples) and Puri (Royal homes) but nowadays they can be found in most houses in Bali. The statues are usually placed on the left and right sides of the gate. People are free to choose any character to be used as a bedogol. The guardian statues are typically a pair of characters that complement each other,  most Balinese use the male-female Bedogol to guard their homes. The purpose is to organise possibly unbalanced elements from the outside world, to make the positive and negative neutral before they enter the home. Bedogol carvings from wood are rare to find.

Dewi Ratih and Kala Rau


Its most likely you will find only a statue from these two characters together, there are thousands of them carved, the main person is the Goddess Dewi Ratih. She is well known for her beauty and grace, thus she was also known as the Goddess of Beauty. The story of the statue is like this, Dewi Ratih rejecting him, Kala Rau then he planned to attack Vishnuloka kingdom. When Kala Rau reached heaven in the form of Kuwera, a leading rakshasawho served the Gods, Ratih warned Vishnu that Kuwera was actually Kala Rau. Vishnu beheaded Kala Rau without knowing he had consumed already some of the tirta amerta, a drink of gods that could make him immortal. Because only his throat touched the tirta amerta, Kala Rau survived with his floating head. When the moon came, Kala Rau would chase the goddess, and swallow Dewi Ratih in whole. But because he does not have his body, Dewi Ratih would soon emerge from his neck. In Bali and Java, this story is believed to be the origin of lunar eclipses

Garuda (Ramayana)

Garuda is a legendary bird with many storys, the divine eagle and vehicle of Vishnu appears also very short in the Ramayana to rescue Rama and Lakshman who were bound by the Nagapasha Arrow of Indrajit in the Ramayana. The episode is mentioned in the Yuddha Kanda of the Ramayana. Garuda wood carvings are popular in single form and known as Vishnu on Garuda. Because collectors or even experts dont know all the lesser known story's about Ravana and Wilmana search below, these statues are often mislabeled and confused with vishnu on Garuda. Also Krishna sometimes rides on Garuda to make it more confusing also like Vishnu with his wife!

Hanuman (Ramayana)

Hanuman is an ardent devotee of Lord Rama and one of the central characters in the various versions of the epic Ramayana. He is also mentioned in several other texts, such as the Mahabharata. Hanuman is the son of Anjana and Kesari and is also son of the wind-god Vayu, who according to several stories, played a role in his birth. Hanuman carvings are popular as single, fighting with nagas as serpents or other forms. More rare are Hanuman and Sita, or with Rama, leading his monkey army or with Surasa.

Indrajit (Ramayana)

The favorite son of Ravana, and his most powerful warrior. He earned his name after he captured Indra, the king of the gods. 

Jatayu (Ramayana)

A powerful golden eagle who speaks in the voice of a human being. He was loyal to King Dasaratha, and pledges his service to Rama. He dies defending Sita from Ravana and this is mostly the only wood carving you can find (carved all tree together) and very rare to find. Easy judged as a Garuda, because since 1870 on drawings and carvings its similar as Garuda two legs and two arms, from about the 60s mostly carved with only two legs carved as eagle. Sampati is another eagle in Ramayana and brother of Jatayu but not used in wood carvings far as I know.

Lord Krishna (Mahabharata)

The lovable god is highlighted as the biggest political reformer. Critics question his decision of taking sides in the war since the gods are supposed to be equal to all without preferences for mortals. Lord Krishna is embarked with the responsibility of upholding righteousness and balance in the world.

Lakshmana (Ramayana)

Son of King Dasaratha, and brother of Rama. He is deeply devoted to his brother, whom he follows through many dangerous adventures and quests. He is married to Sita's younger sister, Urmila.

Naga (Mythology)

The naga is a large part of myth and culture in Asia, appearing in countless stories and legends as well as in art. They are principally depicted in three forms, whole humans with snakes on the heads and necks, common serpents or as half-human half-snake beings. A female naga is called a "nagi". Surasa is a Hindu goddess, who is described as the mother of the nagas 

Rama (Ramayana and God)

The son of King Dasaratha and Queen Kausalya, Rama is the prince of Ayodya. He is an avatara of Vishnu, the Blue God and the sustainer of worlds. He is also a virtuous, strong, and just man in his own right. He is married to Sita, whom he loves deeply. He has a strong bond with his brother Lakshmana as well.

Ravana (Ramayana)

Ravana is a rakshasa who performed penance for the God Siva for many years, and in return received a great blessing from the God: he cannot be killed by any God, demon, or other divine being. His arrogance combined, with great intelligence and power, has led him to rule over much of the earth, spreading terrible evil everywhere he goes.

Rangda (Demon)

Rangda is the demon queen, Rangda is a term in old Javanese that means "widow" Terrifying to behold, the child-eating Rangda leads an army of evil witches against the leader of the forces of good - Barong. The battle between Barong and Rangda is featured in the Barong dance which represents the eternal battle between good and evil. She is depicted mostly as a nude old woman, with long and unkempt hair, pendulous breasts, and claws. Her face is traditionally a horrifying fanged with a long, protruding tongue

Surasa (Goddess)

Surasa is a Hindu goddess, who is described as the mother of the nagas (serpents). Her most popular tale appears in the Hindu epic Ramayana, where she is tasked to test Lord Hanuman on his way to Lanka. This is also the story what is carved but very rare.

Sita (Ramayana)

Sita's father, King Janak, found her lying in a furrow on sanctified ground and decided to raise her as his daughter. She marries Rama, and loves him so much that she follows him into exile. She is famed for her virtue and beauty. from Sita you can find wood carvings as Sita and Rama and the deer, Sita alone with the deer, Sita with Ravana in the form of a begger, Sita alone, or Sita, Jatayu and Ravana all tree together., or Sita and Hanuman.

Shiva (Ramayana and Hindu god)

Siva is part of the great trinity in Hindusim, along with Vishnu and Brahma. He is a great ascetic, and often sits in meditation. He is able to tame the power of other gods, devas, and supernatural beings, and he often grants blessings and wishes to those who sit in dedication meditation ('tapasya'). His wife is Parvati, a well known son of him is Ganesha. 

Singha (Mythology)

This mythical Bali winged lion is common in temples and house temples all over the island.  Wood carvings of Singha statues are collectible and go for higher prices.

Saraswati (Goddess)

the goddess of knowledge, art, and music. She represents the free flow of consciousness. The daughter of Shiva and Durga, Saraswati is the mother of the Vedas 

Sugriva (Ramayana)

The rightful king of the vanaras, a race of magical monkeys. He was usurped by his brother Vali, and pledges his service to Rama and Lakshmana if they can restore him to his throne.

Tintia (Goddess)

On Bali Tintia is also known as "God of the Fertility" thats why its carved with many fallusses decorating the body. Tintia-carvings are very rare and used in Art Deco.

Vishnu (God)

Vishnu is the second god in Hindu triumvirate, the triumvirate consists of three gods who are responsible for the creation, upkeep and destruction of the world. The other two gods are Brahma and Shiva. Vishnu is the preserver god, which means he protects the earth from being destroyed and keeps it going, according to this religion, and he has come to earth in 10 forms (called avatars) more well known avatars are Lord Rama and Lord Krishna.


Varaha (Avatar) and Bhudevi (Goddess)

Another two characters which you probably not will find in single form. Varaha is the third avatar of Vishnu, Varaha is the boar that raised the earth from the bottom of the sea after the demon Hiranyaksha dragged it to the bottom of the sea. After a battle of 1,000 years, Varaha raised the earth out of the water with his tusks. Varaha is depicted as either a full boar form or as a boar head on a human body. Bhudevi or (Bhumi Devi or Bhu Devi) is a Hindu earth goddess and the divine wife of Varaha. She is also considered one of the two divine wives of Vishnu himself along with Lakshmi, She is also known by many other names.

Wilmana (Ramayana)

Wilmana or in Balinese Vilmana is not known by many, uniquely in the Indonesian version Ravana rides this mythical bird instead of his chariot to kidnap Sita there are several statues of Wilmana and Ravana, or also with Sita who was kidnapped by Ravana, and there are also statues with Jatayu the vulture who tries to free Sita. Very rare.