Bali remained independent up to the fourteenth century, when it was finally subjugated by the powerful Javanese kings. However, some villages refused to adopt the religious and social customs of the Javanese. These people are now known as the Bali Aga, which means "original Balinese". Their villages remained isolated and thus became a culturally distinct minority.
One of the many fighting cocks on display in the village.
Tenganan village in east Bali is on of the best preserved of the Bali Aga villages. According to a rather colorful legend, the current village was founded in the fourteenth century, when the ruler of Bali King Bedaulu, lost his favorite horse. He offered a reward for the horse's return, and the animal was eventually found dead near Tenganan. The villagers asked to be granted land as a reward.
The King sent a minister to oversee the demarcation of the village, and instructed him to include all of the land where the dead horse could be smelled. The minister was accompanied on his duties by the village chief, who had cleverly hidden some of the rotting horse flesh in his clothes. Thus, the boundaries of the new village were quite generous indeed.
The village is laid out in a mainly linear fashion, climbing up the side of the mountain. The main street of the village consists of a series of terraces linked by ramps. Many trees dot the street, which is partially cobbled. Public meeting places can be seen along the street, consisting of open pavilions. Houses present a fairly blank face to the street, but after climbing the stairs to a house and entered the door, you're likely to find yourself in an open courtyard surrounded by living and working areas.