The Angkul-angkul is the main entrance gate to the Balinese compound and is often referred to by different names. In some parts of the island it called the pemesu or pemedal, in others it is known as kori, while it is one of the most important buildings in Balinese architecture. Certain rules according to the local measurement system, called asta kusala kusali (using male body parts such as arm, palm and the foot to determine lengths) must be adhered to when constructing the angkul-angkul. Special rituals are also required in the process to ensure the correct flow of positive energies that are essential to the harmony of the family members within the compound.
Apart from its practical function the angkul-angkul has some philosophical meanings as well. Proper etiquette requires most angkul-angkul to have small doors that try to obstruct views within the compound, wishing to be discreet the Balinese don’t want to expose their belongings to public. When entering angkul-angkul there is a small wall blocking the way, called aling-aling, which is built to protect the house not only from direct view, but also in deterring the flow of negative energies. Every ornament within the design of the angkul-angkul has specific meanings that include safety and abundance, and that is why sizes and distances have to be perfectly measured according to asta kusala kusali, not to forget all the rituals before, during and after the building processes to properly fortify the structure.
The angkul-angkul may be built in many different shapes and with different ornaments following the local genius, the financial status of the family and may be influenced by modern perspectives. The old style of Balinese gate is of simple design made mostly of mud or raw bricks, topped with dried grass or ijuk (palm tree fibers), however the recent designs can be more complex, using more ornaments, such as statues and carvings. The doors are sometimes made of beautifully carved teak wood covered with gold called “prada”, and the materials used vary from solid stones to lime stones and bricks, or mixtures of materials.
Candi Bentar and Candi Kurung, also called Kori Agung, are other popular forms of architecture and are mostly built as the entrances to village or family temples. Candi Bentar is designed with an open top and mostly built for family temples, other than for high caste families. In bigger temples normally both structures are built side by side, the Candi Bentar being used for routine activities, while the Candi Kurung is used for formal ceremonies.