Subak Irrigation Cooperative

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Illustration of subak temple
Illustration of subak temple

SUBAK is a Balinese irrigation cooperative having been established circa 1,000 AD. The organization includes the spiritual, social and

environmental aspects. Head of farmer group in the subak organization is called pekaseh. It is assisted by a secretary and treasurer. To help disseminate information and coordinate all activities, it is helped by juru arah.

Aside from organizing the internal affairs, it is also responsible for the external affairs, like the relationship to government agencies and coordination with other subak organization located adjacent to its territory in the matter of water irrigation distribution.

To know more about the tools, layout and other traditions regarding the subak, Bali government has established a special museum known as Subak Museum located at Sanggulan village, Kediri subdistrict, Tabanan. Other than diorama of subak institution, the museum also displays ancient house, rice field landscape, example of irrigation tunnel, rice granary and some others.

Common reference in use during the practice of subak is Shri Tattwa or Dharmaning Pemaculan palm-leaf manuscript. In short, it contains the ritual organized from the beginning of cultivating the land, paddy plants from planting to keeping the harvested crop in rice granary, natural plant disease control, the making of water dam and tunnel. Besides, it also set forth about the land conversion from farming land to commercial or residential area.

As a tradition living almost for 1,000 years and growing in harmony with the supporting community, the UNESCO has included the subak as World Cultural Heritage. The rice field landscape related to this preservation is the rice field at Jatiluwih, Penebel, Tabanan. Meanwhile, some other famous terraced rice field landscapes worth visiting in Bali are at Jatiluwih, Ceking Tegallalang and Pupuan route. Nevertheless, many other off-beaten tracks also offer fascinating terrace rice field.

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