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BALINESE CULTURE

PapanPapan

The Land

Balinese is the people live on the island of Bali, Nusa Lembongan Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. There are many Balinese live on other parts of Indonesia, to mention the biggest groups are west Lombok, Lampung, Sulawesi, Sumbawa and others spread on the archipelago. For those outside Bali island are not specifically included in this writing as they have a bit changes in their daily life, although still speaks and follows their ancestors tradition. Today Balinese who live on the Island of Bali plus 3 small islands above is estimated to have reached 3 millions, more precisely according to Provincial Bureau of Information and Telematic records of 2003 the total is 3.351.353, spread over 9 kabupatens and city. A 1.45% growth rate per year is counted in the span between 1961 through 2003, with the lowest at Kabupaten Gianyar at 0.69%. The distribution between rural and urban showing steady changes over the years which is in 2003 showing almost balance rural 52.15% and urban 47.85%

Bali Language

Balinese speaks bahasa Bali, a variation of west malay dialect showing close resemblance with Javanese and Sundanese. The resemblance is not because of political history as proved by various ancient documents and todays self isolated society such as Baduy people. Balinese language introduces further variation based on social layer known as castes. political history of Bali has probably formed specific character of the society that manifested quiet different from the rest of Indonesian who ever with the same kingdom during 13 - 16th century and colonization of Dutch from 17th century until independence in 1945, except Bali start to enter colonization in 1906.

Balinese is the only people of the archipelago that consistent with their ancestor's ideal, while others have converted into Islam or Christian. This belief is basically Hindu from India mixed with local original heritage which born quiet different concept compared to what happed with it's birth land in India. The Hindu in Bali is known as Hindu Dharma which counts 95% of the total population. In the life of religion Balinese showing great tolerance and pluralistic character as it is also reflected in religious life, although in large part of it practice on ritual aspects. Within the practice of ritual itself there are various interpretations having going on for decades without dot of conflict, here is a great room to review the practice, yet todate it is no effort to do this.

Political History

Politically Bali can be periodisized as Ancient Bali from 882 AD to 1345 AD when Bali was ruled by Balinese king with the royal name of Warmadewa dynasty, from 1345 to 1651 when Bali was ruled by Great Majapahit kingdom ruled by Majapahit official of Sri Kresna Kepakisan with the royal name Dewa Agung, and around end of 17th century until 1945 kingdom of Bali broken into at least 10 small kingdoms each ruled by king's Baudanda ( region controller seat in the palace ). Among those Baudandas are king's families and from the army head ( Arya ) with the royal name I Gusti Agung, and after the colonization of Bali I Gusti Agung or I Gusti Ngurah Agung title changed by the Dutch with Anak Agung or Cokorda, which is still used until today. Some of king's families ruling until independence also given the royal title as Anak Agung, while king of Bali was called Sesuhunan. The breakage of Bali into small kingdoms also arising big number of temples, deriving the concept of main Bali kingdom under I Dewa Agung with 3 main temples that are temple built on the beach, in the town and on the mountain ( Bali : Segara - Jagatnatha - Gunung ). Each small kingdom also created this 3 temples to be considered the same level to Bali main kingdom. At the lowest social unit called Desa Adat also created 3 temples called tri kahayangan correlated with 3 manifestations of god as creator - controller - deconstructor known as tri-murti. After independence these 8 kingdoms are changed into Kabupaten administration under the Province government.

Social Stratification

Among Balinese identified themselves as belong to certain class or lineage, and family ( more correctly Dadia ). The self identification on class is known as kasta ( caste ) and this has the connection with political history. The largest part of Balinese according to caste is the Sudra or common people ( Bali : Jaba ). Among the Jaba can be found lineages such as Pasek, Pande, and Dukuh. Within these lineages also identified themselves for example Pasek, here are Pasek Bendesa considered the lineage of local leader, and other Pasek are based on their loving location such as Pasek Gelgel those develop and living in Gelgel, and others bring in total 7 lineages. With unknown reason one connected the 7 lineages of Pasek into 7 priests known as Sanak Sapta Rsi which is reflected by the Padharman temple at Besakih temple.

Regardless of the variation of Balinese by castes or lineages, social organization traditionally shows a strong affinity crossing the lines. Before independence formal organization by the king and its subordinates up the lowest called Perbekel was coordinating with autonomous organization called Desa under the head of Bendesa from Pasek lineage. A Desa covered smaller unit of organization called Banjar, headed by a Klian. But during the annexation of Bali into great Majapahit kingdom the status of Desa has a bit changes a Desa was the lowest seat of official of the king and the Bendesa role was deprived out left only on the affair of local customs and religion not to the government line. And the head of the Desa henceforth is called Perbekel. It was not rare that a perbekel is assigned from king or high official families and this condition continued until independence except of the Desas known as Bali Age such as Trunyan, Sembiran, Tenganan, Pedawa, Sidatapa, and some Desas on North Bali. After independence the the status of Desa is changed into the official of government with remain the same name of the job, and the Bendesa some changed into Klian Adat manage autonomous region relating to social, religious and areal administration. The government of Indonesia established the official of Klian Banjar or Kepala Dusun at the level of this Desa ( we called Desa Adat to avoid mixture with Desa headed by Perbekel). The Klian Adat in many Desa Adats is divided into two jobs, one is the Klian Banjar and the other one is the Klian Desa. Both klians are worked together in a Desa Adat to undertake the autonomous administration, one task is in accordance with the administration of Indonesian government coordinating with Kepala Dusun, and the other is belong to the tradition. Within Desa Adat can be found various officials such as relating to the job of temple rituals, death rituals, human circle life rituals, people status relating to the right and obligation within the Desa, treasury, security, communicator, and secretary. For communication beside assigning a person also using traditional bell called kulkul Besides the officials there are also various informal organizations to meet the need of various affairs called Sekeha, such as Young Association, Subak Organization, Sekeha Gong ( music ), Sekeha tari ( dance ), and others.

Settlement and Rituals

The pattern of settlement is reflected in the unit of houses forming larger group of Banjar, a unit of houses, often referred as house compound consist of at least 3 pavilions plus one complex of family temple. One house compound is for 1 family and if a family has more then 1 sons, and all have married, only the youngest married son will remain with parents while others will build new house compounds. This type of architecture only built on low land areas where water for irrigation is available, while at most highland Banjars the settlement pattern is different. Today the architecture of house compound has been very rare only some Banjars still keep the old tradition among those economically cable. It is in this family houses Balinese from conception until death conducting ritual relating to the human life which is anthropologists refer as life circle rites. This type of ritual is very clear the influence of Indian Samskara which for Indian has been discarded hundred of years ago. Among those rites well known are marriage ceremony and death ceremony called Ngaben.

The rituals are always adorned with art, from carving, painting, dance and music. The fertility of art also has the root in Hindu concept, that worshipping god can also with voluntarily work ( Bali : bhakti marga ). An artist can offer his/her profession to the temple such as carving or painting the temple, dancing or playing music during temple ceremony, and others. Biggest part of ritual consist of arranging complicated offering called Banten, made of various cookies and art of palm leaves.

The life of art, health, organization and others got an influence from ever living Tantric school which can be observed during the presentation of Barong dance, priest or pedanda during praying using hand gestures called mudra. In the field of health the role of traditional healer is still considered part of the life, as the myth of disease coming from magic practice such as the leak is still being considered after modern medicament found to fail.

Aceh Land and People
Ambon Archipelago
Baduy Unique People
Bali Land and People
Batak Ethnic Land and People
Bugis Land and People
Indonesia Chinese People
Dayak Interland Society
Flores Island People
Javanese Cultural Center
Mentawai Island People
Minahasa Land and People
Minangkabau country
Nias People Society
Sasak Land and People
Sundanese Land and People
Timor People Society
Toraja Land and People
The West Papuan Tribes

Garis Bali
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POPULAR TOURS

Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.

  1. Kintamani tour bring combination of watching barong dance, beautiful temple architecture, beautiful natural views, dance, carving, accessories and painting bul see description
  2. Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot temples are two historical heritages from 17th, Taman Ayun palace temple which is always found near palaces of Balinese king starting 18th century bul see description
  3. Uluwatu temple located on steep drop cliff on the southernmost tip of Bali island. bul see description