The most famous product of Tenganan is gringsing or double ikat, a highly valued brown, deep-red, blue-black and tan cloth, which Bhatara Indra, the god of creation, supposedly taught the women of Tenganan to weave. It can take many years to make one piece, and it is prized throughout Bali, as protection against evil. Many religious ceremonies require the use of the cloth; for example, during the tooth-filling ceremony a piece of it is placed beneath the head, and during part of cremations it is wrapped around the coffin.
In recent years, basketwork from ata grass has become another distinctive product of the village. This is an ancient skill, but since the 1980s it has become more commercial, and supplies of grass are now imported from Flores, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and East Java. Depending on the complexity, it can take a month to produce a basket: the grass is first split and woven, then boiled to tighten the weave, dried for up to a week and smoked over a coconut wood or husk or cempaka wood fire for three days, turning every three hours, to give its glossy, golden finish. You can see all the stages of production at I Nyoman Uking’s Ata Shop towards the top of the village over in the right-hand section, the banjar pande. There’s a small sign outside, you’re welcome to take photographs, and Nyoman speaks English. Baskets are sent from here to outlets in Nusa Dua and other southern resorts, and you can buy them at moderate to expensive price. He also has a shop in the car park outside the village, as do many other village producers, and he owns the Ata Shop close to the junction of the Tenganan road with the main road.
Traditional calligraphy is another attractive product of the village. Calendars and pictorial representations of traditional stories are incised on narrow lengths of lontar palm, which are the strung together to create a small hanging. Compare several before you buy: it soon becomes easy to spot the more skillful examples. The work of Wayan Tumben, whose stall is on the left beyond the main cluster inside the main entrance to the village, is especially fine. Ask to see his astonishing pictures of the buildings in the village.
Tenganan is also famous for its unusual gamelan selonding music, using instruments that are believed to have considerably religious power. Musicians in the village make and play the genggon, a bamboo jew’s-harp, and it’s possible to arrange lessons here; make enquiries in the village if you’re interested.