ALIAS GRACE

 


The Balinese have an alias grace. They are both light and dark, gentle and mysterious, like two sides of an eclipsing moon. The air is thick and humid; you can press a knife through and take out a slice. The smells are potent, sweet and spiced. I still taste the over-ripened dragon fruit on my tongue, still see the magenta blood stains on my clothing. At dawn the smoke from incense fogs the streets. At dusk chanting fills the atmosphere like a subtle purr, magnified by bamboo xylophones.

The first time I came to Bali I witnessed a funeral. Instead of black they wore bright shades. I saw the body of the deceased lit of fire, surrounded by lanterns and gold embossed sculptures, woven palm leaves and fruit arranged intricately into mandalas. The flames faded from crimson to orange and then became an electric blue. The ceremony symbolised life being transformed back to its elemental form, a way of purifying the deceased of any physical stain, elevating the soul and delivering its remnants to the Gods.

Photography & words
Shannon May Powell