Balinese Grasp

A common feature of Balinese manual culture is the occurrence of complex grasping postures of the hand that would be exceedingly difficultfor ordinary members of industrialized societies. The participation of thousands of Balinese in activities such as woodcarving and painting, as well as dance and theater, require grasping postures that are rarely used in industrialized societies.

Hand-configurations that are formed to take or hold an object--specialists call them prehensile postures--usually involve the opposition between two “virtual fingers” or "jaws": the thumb and one other finger or group of fingers. In Balinese woodcarving and painting (and Western surgery), hand-postures often consist of three “viitual fingers”, as the hand of this painter who uses his pinkie as a “tripod”, to give support to the hand.





One of the most difficult manual tasks in Bali--left to specialists because life and death depend on it--is the tying of spurs to the feet of fighting cocks. This is done with yards and yards of yarn. Intricate hand-postures are adopted in the process.