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    ACCORDING TO LEGEND, the Balinese originally had only the juice of sugar-cane as food. Out of pity for the human rice, the male god of fertility and water water, Wisnu, Plutonic Lord of the under world, came to earth in disguise to provide them with better food, He raped an unwilling Mother Earth to fertilize her and give birth to rice, and s'be became known as Sanghyang ibu pertiwi, the Smitten Grandmother. Then Wisnu made war on indra Lord of the Heaven, to induce him to teach men how to grow rice. Thus, as the principal source of life and wealth and as a gift from the gods, rice was bom from the cosmic union devine male and female creative forces represented in earth and water

Besides white rice (bras), there are red (gaga) and black (injin) varieties. These the Balinese conveniently co-ordinatedwith their symbolyc notion of the relation between colour and direction by the explanation that the seeds were provided Sanghyang Kesuhum Kidul (Brahma), the patron of the south who sent four doves with seeds of the four, cardinal white, red, yellow, and black. Since there was no yell the seed of that collour became tumeric (kunyit), an important condiment.

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Poor people, or those living in districts where water is not abundant, live on corn and sweet potatoes, foods considered inferior to rice, and taken to be transformed male and female at. tendants of Dewi Sri, wife of Wisnu, goddess of agriculture, fertility, and success. To the Balinese Dewi Sri represents all that is good and beautiful and she is their most popular deity. She has been placed, perhaps with the advent of Hinduism, above Dewi Melanting, the native goddess of seed and plants, who, as daughter of Dewi Sri, remains the goddess of gardens and markets. Dm,i Melanting spends half the year above the earth and the other half below; or, as Dr. Goris puts it, " she has first to undergo death under the black earth before she can come to new life."'

Since man lives off rice and his body and soul are built from it, rice itself is treated with reverence and respect and the whole rice culture has developed into an elaborate cult. There are end less magic-ritual acts to make the rice grow big and strong, or so that water shall not be lacking, or to prevent the pollution of the land and the loss of seed by theft, birds, and mice. From planting-time' until harvest the growth of rice is watched with as much anxiety as the life of a child. The Balinese are famed as the most efficient rice-growers in the archipelago. They raise two crops of fine rice a year with such success that they have more than sufficient for the needs of the population, often having enough left over to sell or give away. Even agricultural experts admit that modern methods could not improve the already excellent results, due perhaps to the intense striving of the Balinese for improvement, their communal, co-operative agricultural societies, and their Burbank-like system of seed selection.

The most striking element of the Balinese landscape is the ever present rice field, the sawa, a. patch of land filled with water held by dikes cut out of the red earth. Every available piece of ground to which it is humanly possible to bring water, even to
mountain heights, is made use of. The receding man-made ter. races, like flights of gigantic stairs, cover the hills and spread over the slopes and plains. When they are first filled with still water they are like mosaics of mirrors that reflect the clouds. Later they are sprinkleed with the dainty blades of the newly planted rice in an all-over I pattern of chartreuse on a ground of brown ooze. This thickens eventually into a tender yellow-green carpet which turns to a rich gold ochre as the grain ripens, finally leaving only dry, cracked mud after the harvest. The landscape is continually changing, and as the crop begins or ends, a familiar surrounding is so transformed as to become almost unrecognizable.


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