The Jakarta Post
Words I Wayan Juniarta Photos Agung Parameswara
Cloth lovers and collectors of traditional fabrics on vacation in Bali should put Klungkung Market on their list of must-visit places. As well as other traditional cloth, the market offers one of the largest collections of Balinese songket, a gorgeous hand-woven cloth with intricate patterns made from golden or silver threads.
In Bali, the glamorous songket is only worn during the most joyous religious festivals and social functions, as well as being the obligatory central element in the costume of Balinese brides and bridegrooms.
For years, Klungkung Market has been the go-to place for local housewives and girls from as far as Denpasar and Tabanan looking for the 'trendiest' songket. Yes, while categorized as traditional cloth, songket's metal thread patterns and colors do indeed change regularly to adapt to their clientele's demands and expectations. The change may not be as fast-paced as the prÃªt-a-porter in Milan or Paris, but songket is definitely not stuck in the past. High-quality songket commands a price of millions of rupiah per meter.
It is common for local women to organize group trips to this market to source new songket collections or to simply order uniform kebaya (traditional blouses) for the banjar's housewives' association.
The designated driver, usually a desperate husband who failed to whip up a convincing excuse or feign a heart attack to avoid the duty, will either wait inside the car, in which case he is likely to die of boredom long before the shopping trip is over, or go on a shopping spree himself. The market has stalls selling manly items too, from butcher's knives with carved handles ' a must-have accessory for those pre-temple festival collective cooking sessions ' to fashionable udeng headgear.
Several stalls offering delicious es campur (shaved ice), bakso (meatballs) and the famous srombotan spicy salad are also good places to meditate on the importance and necessity of being patient with your wife and her many friends.
The market lies in downtown Semarapura, the capital city of Klungkung, and is just a few meters across the street from the famed Kerta Gosa, the royal court hall with depictions of Balinese-style heaven and hell painted in Kamasan style on its ceiling.
Rest assured none of the paintings depict the hellish punishment for splurging money on an exquisite piece of songket ' or on that gold-plated butcher's knife.