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A gecko and a dragonfly frolic amid flowers on a bamboo flute with tropical design. Known as a suling in Bali, the instrument is carefully crafted by Nyoman Lentong. Flutes of this type are used in the Balinese gamelan percussion orchestra, whose importance goes well beyond the pleasure of music and into the realm of ritual ceremony. Lentong shapes the buluh, or bamboo, by hand using burnt coconut ash to create the motifs. He signs it as "Pan Nasib," as he is known in his village.
Lentong is in his late nineties. Much of what he did with ease is now done with difficulty. Rheumatism makes carving difficult. Each of the flutes he now produces are among the last that he will make in his life - the last that he will leave to the world.
Nyoman Lentong is a Keeper of the Arts in the truest sense of the words. He has spent his life creating the traditional bamboo flutes that are a part of Balinese ritual heritage. Lentong taught himself to carve flutes using only a knife but, as he began to refine his art, he applied traditional linear paintings to the surface to merge the arts of painting and music. He continues to teach this art to his son, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren, and in this way he hopes to continue his life's work.
Now in his late 90s, Lentong still relies on the sale of his flutes to survive. The income that he receives from Novica sales provide for most of his daily needs. Just as important, these sales accord him the dignity and self reliance found in the ability to care for oneself.
Although Lentong is in his nineties, the pain of losing two children in infancy has stayed with him all his life. He treasures his surviving child, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and showers them with care whenever he can.