BALI, INDONESIA, September 6, 2023 (, by Ellen Shapiro): If your eyes are open in Bali, Indonesia, you’ll see black and white checked fabric just about everywhere. On my first vacation there with my son and his family, I spotted it at a roadside pottery shop on the way from the airport. What is this doing here? I asked myself. After all, in the USA, we associate gingham with rustic decorating, coverlets for jam jars, clothes for small children, and great-grandma’s tablecloth.

It didn’t take long to start noticing black and white checks wherever I went. But the Insight Guide I’d studied and brought along gave me no insight. After four more extended visits—my son’s family now lives there—I’m beginning to understand its religious and cultural significance. Frien

Bali could be the only national entity with a trademark textile design. Unlike America’s patriotic stars and stripes, the black and white checks have a deep spiritual meaning. They symbolize the Balinese philosophy of Rwa Bhineda, balance and harmony, not unlike Chinese yin and yang. The contrasting squares signify that there is no day without night, no joy without sorrow, no good without bad, no right without wrong, no order without chaos.

Much more on this interesting tradition at source: