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The Serpent and The Turtle


The Balinese, in their creation myth relate that in the beginning there was neither heaven nor earth. Then, through meditation, the World Serpent Antaboga created the World Turtle, Bedawang.

On the World Turtle lay two coiled snakes and the Black Stone, the lid of a cave which is the underworld, where there is neither sun nor moon. The underworld cave is ruled by the God Batara Kala and the goddess Setesuyara, and is the home of the great serpent Basuki.

Kala created the light and Mother Earth, over which extends a layer of water, and over the water a series of domes or skies. There is the middle sky, and above it the floating sky, where Semara, the god of love, sits. Above that is the dark blue sky with the sun and moon, and above that the perfumed sky, beautiful and full of rare flowers, the home of Tjak, the bird with a human face, the serpent Taksaka, who has legs and wings, and the awan snakes, which are the falling stars. Higher still is the flame filled heaven of the ancestors, and above that lies the highest layer of all, the abode of the gods, watched over by Tintiya, the male supreme being.

The gods created Bali as a flat, barren place. But when neighbouring Java fell to the Muslims (in fact a long process lasting from c.1250 to c.1600), the disgusted Hindu gods moved to Bali and, at each of the four cardinal points, built mountains high enough for their exalted rank.

In the middle they created the volcano Gunung Agung (Great Mountain), also called the Cosmic Mountain and Navel of the World.