|The History of Chinese Coin in Tanah Lot|
Uang Kepeng (Chinese coin) contributed to the internal development of the arts in Tanah Lot. With their own currency, and their collective ability in the Banjar (hamlet organization) to determine how it should be used, communities could generate a surplus of Uang Kepeng and choose to direct it towards the arts, without being dependent on external donors. This led to a diverse and vibrant culture, with marked cultural distinctions and specialization between communities.
Uang Kepeng plays a very important role in Balinese cosmology and sense of cosmic harmony as a way of mediating the balance between opposing forces in religion and society. For this reason, Uang Kepeng is highly valued in religious ceremonies and art works. The tanah lot society produce beautiful handmade offerings to the Gods, and special offerings will include a few Uang Kepeng in them. Ceremonies to mark the completion of a building, or for purification of a place, require contributions of Uang Kepeng which are offered, buried or burned.
Uang Kepeng is also used in the creation of holy statues. One kind of statue, called the Rambut Sedana which symbolizes the generosity of God, is made of up to 15,000 Chinese coins. An ukur, on the other hand, is a small effigy made of at least 108 coins, which is burned together with the body of the deceased in the Ngaben cremation ceremony. Although the main concern of the conference was dealing with the shortage of Uang Kepeng as a medium of ceremony, numerous references were made to the use of Uang Kepeng as a medium of exchange.
Revaluing Uang Kepeng requires giving it economic meaning to people again, by re –issuing it as a medium of local exchange. Producing Uang Kepeng for local use increases its value, and as a medium of exchange the supply will be much larger than if it was only purchased to make an art object or satisfy cultural use. In addition to this, it ensures that the production of Uang Kepeng remains local, and not dependent upon external sources.Thus the re -issuance of Uang Kepeng would strengthen cultural diversity and vitality in Tanah Lot, thereby contributing to a sustainable culture. As each community could differentiate itself in its cultural development, the overall culture of Tanah Lot will be more diversified and vibrant.