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Raffles Bali - Moon of Pejeng: A Sacred Relic and Symbol of Ancient Heritage
August 9th 2023

Moon of Pejeng: A Sacred Relic and Symbol of Ancient Heritage

In the heartland of South Bali, nestled in the Petauan River valley near Ubud, lies a revered treasure that carries with it the echoes of Southeast Asia’s Bronze Age period—the Moon of Pejeng. Known as the largest single-cast bronze kettledrum in the world, this sacred relic stands tall at 186.6 centimeters high with a timpano diameter of 160 centimeters, captivating all who encounter its majestic presence.

The Moon of Pejeng holds immense significance for the local people, deeply intertwined with the history and rituals of early rice cultivation. Considered a testament to ancient traditions, it evokes a sense of awe and reverence among those who behold it. Its preservation at the Pura Penataran Sasih Temple in Pejeng adds to its allure, creating a mystical connection between the past and the present.

According to Balinese legend, the Moon of Pejeng was once a wheel of the chariot that traversed the night sky, carrying the real moon. In a twist of fate, the wheel detached as it passed over Pejeng, falling to earth and becoming entwined within a tree. The fallen wheel emitted a radiant glow, nearly as bright as the moon itself. Intrigued by the luminosity, a curious thief climbed the tree, only to commit sacrilege by urinating on the sacred relic. The consequence of this act was swift and severe, as the thief paid for his disrespect with his life. The moon, having cooled over time, has been safeguarded as a cherished relic by the local villagers ever since.

While it is widely accepted that the Moon of Pejeng was crafted by the Đông Sơn culture of ancient Vietnam around 300 B.C., some believe that it was constructed in Bali itself. The true origins of the drum remain elusive, as its hourglass shape is common among kettledrums created during the Bronze Age. The engraved face motifs on the drum, first described to the Western world by Dutch artist W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, differ from the usual Dong Son themes found in Vietnam, reflecting more Balinese influences. Balinese scholars point to the discovery of ancient bronze casting molds in the area as evidence supporting the possibility that the drum was created near Pejeng.

The Dong Son culture, prominent in Vietnam during the Bronze Age, left an indelible mark on the cultural development of the Asian region. Their ancient heritage, including the Dong Son drum or “Nekara,” played a vital role in shaping traditions and customs across different regions. Bronze drums, resembling the shape of a “Dandang” with a distinctive waistband and a metallic or bronze sound membrane, served various functions based on local traditions and cultures. These functions included musical instruments used in rain call ceremonies, weddings, and funerals, as well as symbols of strength in certain areas. The motifs depicted on the Nekara hold profound symbolic meanings, representing their specific functions.

Indonesia is home to several significant Nekara artifacts, showcasing the country’s rich metalworking heritage. One such example is the Bronze Age kettledrum, known as Nekara Perunggu, produced between the 1st and 2nd century AD. These masterpieces demonstrate the advanced metal casting techniques of the time and highlight the active trade networks across the Indonesian archipelago. Notably, the Moon of Pejeng, proudly displayed at the Penataran Sasih Temple in Gianyar, Bali, stands as a testament to the intricate craftsmanship and cultural exchange that flourished during the first millennium AD.

The enchanting Moon of Pejeng not only mesmerizes with its size and beauty but also serves as a bridge connecting past and present, offering a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Bali’s ancient heritage. As it graces the Raffles Bali Villa, it stands as a timeless reminder of the enduring cultural legacy that has shaped the island for generations.



Raffles Bali is an intimate oasis of emotional well-being. Located in beautiful Jimbaran Bay, the new luxury resort is perched on a hill offering unparalleled views of the ocean and its own secluded beach. With just 32 well-appointed pool villas providing utmost relaxation due to its generosity of space, each featuring their own outdoor terrace and private pool, Raffles Bali is one of the most exclusive hotels in Bali and boasts stunning sunsets, lush tropical gardens and exquisite dining. Guests can indulge in a signature Bali Sling in the iconic Writers Bar, enjoy a romantic dinner in The Secret Cave and Purnama Honeymoon Bale or rejuvenate at the indulgent The Sanctuary, a hillside treatment suite or Raffles Spa. Raffles Wellbeing Butlers can arrange a variety of bespoke treatments, cultural immersions and activities to deliver the ultimate in Emotional Wellbeing in the Island of the Gods. | |