Subak: Traditional Balinese Wetland Irrigation System (irrigation) – Irrigation System Subak Bali, Indonesia, the traditional rice irrigation method in Bali that is well known and established by UNESCO as world cultural heritage
Subak is an organization owned by farmers communities in Bali that specifically regulate the management or irrigation system of rice fields traditionally, the existence of Subak is a manifestation of the philosophy / concept of Tri Hita Karana.
Tri Hita Karana comes from the word “Tri” which means three, “Hita” which means happiness / welfare and “Karana” which means cause. So it can be concluded that Tri Hita Karana means “Three causes of happiness and prosperity”. Its application in subak system that is:
- Parahyangan is a harmonious relationship between man and God.
- Pawongan is a harmonious relationship between man and his neighbor.
- Palemahan is a harmonious relationship between man and nature and the environment.
The word “Subak” is a word derived from the Balinese language, the word is first seen in the inscription Pandak Bandung which has a number of 1072 AD The word subak refers to a unique social and religious institution, has its own arrangements, associations The democratic of the farmers in determining the use of irrigation water for rice growth.
Subak for the people of Bali is not only an irrigation system, but also a concept of life for the people of Bali itself. In view of the Balinese people, Subak is a direct description of Tri Hita Karana’s philosophy.
As a method of joint living arrangement, Subak is able to survive for more than a century because the people are obedient to the tradition of ancestors. The distribution of water is done fairly and equitably, all issues are discussed and solved together, even the timing of planting and determining the types of rice grown are done together.
Sanctions against various forms of violation will be determined by the residents themselves through ceremonies or rituals held at the temple. Harmonization of life like this is the key to the preservation of Subak culture on the island of the gods.
Subak Organizational Structure
Members of subak or commonly referred to as subak krama are farmers who have cultivated the fields and get the water in the fields. In subak members there are also some groups called Sekaa, Krama subak is classified into 3, namely:
- Active Krama are active members such as krama pekaseh, sekaa yeh or sekaa subak.
- Passive crews are members who replace their obligations with money or natura because of several causes commonly referred to as pengampel or pengohot.
- Krama missed members (krama) who are not active in all kinds of subak activities because the task is like the village head or Bendesa Adat.
The Subak Board (Prajuru) consists of:
- Pekaseh / Kelian is serving as head of subak.
- Pangliman / Petajuh served as deputy head of subak.
- Peyarikan / Scribe is as secretary.
- Petengen / Mercury merchant is having the duty as treasurer.
- I / the interpreter / interpreter of the charge / interpreter / kasinoman has a duty in the matter of notification or announcement.
- Stakeholder is a special duty in ritual / religious affairs.
Groups (Sekaa) in subak are divided into:
- Sekaa Numbeg, a group that regulates the processing of soil.
- Sekaa Jembinjingan, the group responsible for organizing water treatment.
- Sekaa Sambang, a group that has duties in terms of water surveillance from theft, capture or disposal of plant-destructive animals such as birds and rats.
- Sekaa Membulih / Nandur, the group that served in the case of planting rice seedlings.
- Sekaa Mejukut is a group in charge of weeding rice.
- Sekaa Manyi is the group in charge of harvesting / cutting / planting rice.
- Sekaa Bleseng is a group that has the task of transporting the rice bonds that have been cultivated from rice fields to the barn.
As an autonomous organization in managing its own organization, Subak can establish rules known as awig awig, sima, perarem. In the “awig awig” contained the main matters and terms, the main content in “awig awig” is to regulate the matter of parahyangan, pawongan and attenuation while the provisions and more details are contained in the paragem as the implementation of awig awig subak. Awig awig subak contains about the rights and obligations of subak residents and contains about sanctions for violations of these rights and obligations.
Subak Irrigation Network
The experts also mentioned that Subak is also a technology system that has become a culture in Bali. Subak as a technological method of indigenous Balinese peasant culture. The main facilities of subak irrigation (palemahan) for each subak farmers are in the form of flooding (dredging), jelinjing (ditch), and a cakangan (one place / tool to enter water into the field of rice fields).
If in a field location there are two or more lanes adjacent to each other then the height of the “cakangan” is the same (the ease and smoothness of the water flowing into the paddy fields of each farmers are the same), but the difference in the width of the hole is still tolerable that is adjusted to the difference Wide field of farmers’ fields. The preparation, maintenance, and management of the use of subak irrigation facilities is done jointly by subak members (krama).
The irrigation system network in subak if sorted by water source consists of:
- Empang / empangan as a source of water flow / dam.
- Bungas / Buka is as an entry (in take).
- Aungan is a closed water channel or tunnel.
- Telya aya (big), is the main channel.
- Tembuku aya (gede), is a building for the main water distribution.
- Telek tempek (munduk / dahanan / kanca), is as a branch water channel.
- Telapak cerik, as a water channel of twigs.
- Panyacah (rope kunda), in some places known as Penasan (for 10 parts), Panca (for 5 people), and Pamijian (for 1 person / person).
Through this Subak system, the farmers get the water in accordance with the provisions set by the deliberations of the citizens / krama subak and still based on the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana. Therefore, the activities in Subak organization / society not only cover agriculture or cultivation, but also ritual and worship problems to ask for fortune and fertility.
Rice fields, rice crops, and water have an important role in irrigation systems even subak associated with religious terms. All three are related to the power of Dewi Sri (Goddess of fertility and prosperity). Subak therefore not merely regulates the technical issues of regulation and water distribution, but also social and religious aspects.
Each Subak usually has a temple called Ulun Carik Temple or Bedugul Temple, specially built by farmers to worship Dewi Sri. This irrigation system is governed by an local elder leader and also a farmer called Kelian (Klian) who has the task to supervise and manage subak.
To be a Subak Kelian this is social, do not get salary or reward. Distribution of water adapted to the membership of farmers in subak, there are members who are active and passive, both received different water sharing. This is the basis of justice in which the distribution of water is adapted to the contribution.
Subak has been studied and researched by Clifford Geertz, while J. Stephen Lansing has drawn public attention to the importance of traditional irrigation methods. He studied and researched many holy places (temples) in Bali, especially the holy places devoted to agriculture.
In 1987, J. Stephen Lansing working with farmers in Bali has redeveloped the Subak irrigation system more effectively. In that way he can prove how the effectiveness and importance of subak irrigation method in Bali.
Subak – World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has finally recognized Subak in Bali as a World Cultural Heritage. This recognition can be realized after the struggle of the Indonesian republican government for approximately 12 years.
Proposal for this category is not easy because it requires deep research with approaches through various sciences such as archeology, anthropology, geography, environmental science, landscape architecture, and some other related sciences.
Exactly on June 29, 2012, Subak’s proposal was approved, acknowledged and stipulated as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in the 36th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the city of Saint Peterburg, Russia.
Establishment as World Cultural Heritage is welcomed by the government and the people of Bali. In accordance with the submission, Subak in Bali which has an area of approximately 20,000 ha consisting of several subak located in 5 districts, namely Badung, Bangli, Buleleng, Gianyar and Tabanan districts.
To introduce and preserve Subak which is an ancestral cultural heritage then established Museum Subak located in Tabanan district which aims to introduce to the younger generation or tourists about the traditional irrigation systems owned and still used today by the farmers community in the island of Bali.
In this subak museum exhibited objects related to the work of farmers and audio visuals that show Subak activities in running irrigation management.