Salt has long been an essential product for human life. It was used in the ancient Egyptian pyramids as a symbol of power, the Puebloans believed salt came from the earth’s mother, and Mahatma Gandhi famously went on a salt fast during his liberation of India. In contemporary times, salt is also associated with a sense of adventure.
Traditional vs modern salt harvesting takes place in the artisanal salt pans (a dune-like landscape of shallow pools of seawater) located in areas of great ecological value. Artisanal salt production is an anthropic activity that enriches the biodiversity of these salt marshes and wetlands.
The process begins when the sun hits the salt pans during the dry season between May and July. The salt water brine is evaporated in order to obtain the crystallised salt granules, which are then carded using bamboo and collected in containers called saingan (fig. 2). Harvesting is completed by the end of the rainy season, usually in September or October, depending on the weather.
Tradition Meets Innovation: Comparing Traditional and Modern Salt Harvesting Methods
Considering the fact that the palung salt-making technology is a living heritage, safeguarding it does not involve conservation and restoration issues, as is common with tangible heritage, but rather is mainly related to the maintenance of the activity and to enabling sustainable management. This is achieved through the establishment of a relationship between traditional knowledge systems and salt-making technologies that ensures their continuity.
In addition, a close and respectful relationship is maintained between the families involved in salt-making. This is especially important as men and women are equally involved in salt harvesting and there are no exploitative relationships within the family. In Balinese societies that tend to be patriarchal, this is an important issue that reinforces gender equality and promotes a more equal participation in the economy.