Bali Traditional Irrigation – Rice Terrace


Subak is an organization owned by the farmers in Bali that specifically regulates the management or irrigation systems / irrigation of traditional rice fields, the existence of Subak is a manifestation of the philosophy / concept of Tri Hita Karana. Tri Hita Karana is derived from the word “Tri” meaning three, “Hita” meaning happiness / well-being and “Karana” which means the cause. It can be concluded that the Tri Hita Karana means “Three causes the creation of happiness and well-being”. Its application in the Subak System as follows:

  • Parahyangan is a harmonious relationship between man and God.
  • Pawongan is a harmonious relationship between man and his fellow.
  • Palemahan the harmonious relationship between man and nature and the environment.

The word comes from Bali Subak and the word refers to a social and religious institution is unique, has its own settings, democratic associations of farmers in determining the use of irrigation water for growing rice. Subak community of Bali is not just an irrigation system, but also the concept of life for the people of Bali itself. In the view of the people of Bali, Subak is a direct overview of the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana.


As a method of arrangement of living together, Subak survived for over a century because the people obedient to the ancestral traditions. Water distribution is done fairly and equitably, all the problems discussed and solved together, even the timing of planting and determination of the type of rice planted was done together. Sanctions against various types of violations will be determined by the people themselves through ceremonies or rituals performed in temples. Harmonization of life as this is the key factor in the preservation of cultural Subak Island of the gods.

Experts also mentioned that Subak as well as technological systems has become a culture in Bali. Subak is a method of technology of the original culture Balinese farmer. The main facilities of irrigation water control system, for each farmer member of Subak is a form of pengalapan (dam), jelinjing (trenches), and a cakangan (one / tool to enter the water to arable paddy fields).

If at a location field rice field there are two or more waterways adjacent to each other, the height of lane are the same (the ease and smoothness of the water flowing into the fields each farmer the same), but the difference in the width of the hole is tolerated adjusted for differences vast areas of arable paddy farmers. Manufacture, maintenance, and management of the use of irrigation facilities Subak conducted jointly by the member (manners) Subak.


Through this Subak system, farmers obtain water section in accordance with the conditions set by the deliberation of citizens and still guided by the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana. Therefore, activity in organizations / associations Subak covers not only the issue of agriculture or farming, but also includes issues of ritual and worship to invoke good fortune and fertility.

Right at the date June 29, 2012, Proposed Subak has been approved, recognized and designated / authorized as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in the 36th session of UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the town of Saint Peterburg, Russia. Determination as a World Cultural Heritage was welcomed by the government and the people of Bali. According to the filing, Subak in Bali which has an area of approximately 20,000 hectares consisting of a water control system that is in five districts, namely Badung, Bangli, Buleleng, Gianyar and Tabanan.


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