Ubud, Bali, Indonesia: ¬†Driving around Ubud, there are times when we can’t see past many of the thick walls built up along the streets. We learned these are karangs, traditional family compounds composed of many homes and filled with extended family.

Within the compound is the family temple, which is actually a collection of five+ small shrines placed on high pedestals. These are dedicated to ancestor worship, specific Hindu gods or ancient spirits. Further within the compound there are a number of small houses or open sided pavilions, organized around a main house which is occupied by the current head of the family and his immediate family, while the smaller dwellings house visiting relatives and children.

Within these compounds, much effort and expense goes towards the decoration of doors and gateways. Doors are carved from rain tree woods and painted, but may also be gilded with gold leaf in the case of high caste families. Gateways are often highly ornamented, often with the Bhoma head, killer and eater of demons.