Yeh Pulu is a place around 2 kms from famous ancient rock carving of Goa Gajah, located around 30 kms east of Denpasar city. The carving is between rice field and ravine of Pekerisan river. The site was rediscovered in 1925 by the archaeologists covered by moath and shrubs yet local people still knew them and put some offering at the front of the carvings.
In 1949 a simple protection was laid out to avoid water flowing on the surface of the relief. It looks like panel with the size of 25 x 2 meters full with carvings. The figures showing mixed between the fairy tales of wayang ( puppet show ) and like a common people. If we see the area of Pejeng which is at the same slope of the river and closeby area, it is rich with ancient stone carvings, and also wayang figure is found near the village of Pejeng preserved at a temple called ” Arjuna Metapa “, one of the figure prince of Mahabharata story.
From the site itself it is hard to give estimated date of the construction. From iconographic study we can only use typological date or comparing it’s work, anatomy, and decoration based on the ancient relief of Candi Penataran in east Java. It is commonly agreed that Penataran temple was constructed during the end of Majapahit kingdom, around 1400 AD. If it is associated with the tradition of Wayang puppet in Bali, it was only around 16th century, when Bali kingdom controlled Blambangan kingdom ( now Kabupaten Banyuwangi ).
According to the tradition during the attack of Blambangan, a box full of wayang puppet were confiscated and were brought to the palace in Klungkung and the king was interested by the art of Wayang. In Klungkung today, there is a village called Kamasan near the capital city of the kingdom in the past is the first wayang style introduced by a painter inspired by the wayang figure brought from Java. So it was probable that this rock carving was made around this period.
An important aspect from this art is that a new style had emerged compared to the previous art which was showing close style with the type of art such as Borobudur and Prambanan temples. It is well understood that the art of Bali during ancient time was very idealistic and superhuman in nature, but Yeh Pulu relief showing realistic and vigorous nature. It is hard to understand why the artist had deviated from the rules at the time. They did not only carved wayang figures but also human figures.
The whole scene of the relief is divided into 5 episodes:
1. In this episode one figure is interesting that a man is carrying something with pole on his shoulder, look like a guci ( English ” Urn “). In Bali guci is a place for palm wine ( Bali : tuak ).
2. One of the important figure is a dwarf like person with ascetic’s turban which is the prototype of present day Bali priest’s crown.
3. Showing a bear hunters in attacking the bear and a man sitting on horse, although the fact that Bali did not have bear.
4. Two men carrying bear with pole,
5. A woman holding the tail of a horse.
So far it is concerned, there is no traditional story that could be used to identify what is actually the depiction of these all. An extensive local folk tales have been recorded, but no one seems explaining the episodes. It was most probable that the artist just free to express their art spirit.