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About Bali

Bali with a reputation as being one of most beautiful and diverse tourist spots in Asia, Bali attract over 1 million visitor a year from all around the world.
Geographically, Bali lies between the islands of java and Lombok and is one of more than 17,000 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. Bali is small, stretching approximately 140 kilometer from east to west and 80 from north to south. running east to west and slightly off centre ,are a string of volcanic mountains, the highest and most recently active being is mount Agung, which reaches 3,142 m at its highest point and last erupted in 1963.

Lying just 8˚south of equator, Bali boast a tropical climate with just two seasons a year an average annual temperature of around 28˚ Celcius. The rich volcanic soil and healthy monsoon season make this island extremely fertile and ranges of crop are grown here. The wide, gently sloping southern regions play host to Bali’s famed terraced rice paddies, among the most spectacular in the world. In the hilly, northern coastal regions, the main produce is coffee, spices, coconut, vegetables, cattle and rice.

The Balinese people have strong spiritual roots and despite the large influx of tourist in recent years, their culture is still very much alive. The main region is Agama Hindu Dharma, which arrive in Bali with the spread of Hinduism through Sumatra and Java during the 11th century. Although originally from India, the Balinese religion is a unique blend of Hindu, Buddhist, Javanese and ancient indigenous beliefs, with customs that are very different from the traditional form Hinduism practiced in India today. With the arrival of Islam neighbouring Java during the 15th century, a large number of courtiers, artist renaissance.

Naturally creative, the Balinese have traditionally used their talents for religious purposes and most of the beautiful work to be seen here has been inspired by stories from the Ramayana and other Hindu epics. The incredibly colorful cremation pyres and the everyday offering to the gods, placed inside every shop and business, are made with precision and an eye for beauty.

The majority of Bali΄s population of 3,5 million live, for the most part, in tight village communities with large extended families. The largest town are the regional capital Denpasar, population 300.000 and Singaraja in the north. The main tourist area is Kuta, situated near the airport ‘ Ngurah Rai International Airport ‘. During the tourist boom of the 70’ s, this small village became a major attraction because of its famed white sand beach, the surf, and sunsets.

Today, kuta, Legian and Seminyak are major hustling and bustling resort Town , with hundred hotels, villas, restaurant, bars, night club and shops. Those in search of a little and quite tend to head for the more sedate resort on the southern-most peninsula of the Island, Nusa Dua, caters for the more up market crowd, and is home to almost all of the bigger 5-star hotels, as well as one of Bali’s golf course, the Bali golf and country club. the central village of Ubud, in the hilly region of Gianyar, has also recently blossomed as a tourist attraction as is now considered to be the artistic and cultural centre of Bali.


Yi-Tsing, in 670 AD reported on a trip to India, that is had visited a Buddhist country called Bali. It wasn’t until the 11th century that Bali received the first strong influx of Hindu and Javanese cultures. With the death of his father around AD 1011, the Balinese Prince, Airlanggha, moved to East Java and set about uniting in under one principality. Having succeed, he then appointed his brother, Anak Wungsu, as ruler of Bali. During the ensuing period there was a reciprocation of political and artistic ideas. The old Javanese language ‘ Kawi ‘ became the language used by the aristocracy, as well as one of the many Javanese traits and customs adopted by the cause. With the death of Airlanggha in the middle of the 11th century, Bali enjoyed a period of autonomy. However, this proved to be short-lived as in 1284, the East Javanese king Kertanegara, conquered Bali and ruled over it from Java. In 1292 Kertanegara was murdered and Bali took the opportunity to liberate itself once again. However, in 1343, Bali was brought back under Javanese control by its defeat at the hands of Gajah Mada, a general in the last of the great Hindu-Javanese empires, the Majapahit. With the spread of Islam throughout Sumatra and Java during the 16th century, the Majapahit Empire began to collapse, and a large exodus of aristocracy, priets, artists and artisans to Bali ensued. For a while Bali flourished, and the following centuries were considered the Golden Age of Bali’s cultural history. The principality of Gelgel, near Klungkung, became a major center for the Arts, and Bali became the major power of the region, taking control of neighbouring Lombok and parts of East Java.

European Influenza

Although the first seamen set foot on Bali in 1597, it wasn’t until the 1800’s that the Dutch showed interest in colonizing the island. In 1864, having had large areas of Indonesia under their control since the 1700’ s, the Dutch government sent troops into northern Bali. In 1894, Dutch forces side with the Sasak people of Lombok to defeat their Balinese rulers. By 1911, all the Balinese principalities had been defeated in battle, or had capitulated, leaving the whole island under Dutch control. After world war I, Indonesian nationalists sentiment was rising, and in 1928, Bahasa Indonesia was declared the official Indonesian language. During world war II, the Dutch war expelled by the Japanese, who occupied Indonesia from 1942 to 1945.

After the Japanese defeat, the Dutch tried to regain control of their former colonies, but on august 17th, 1945, Indonesia was declared independent by their first president, Soekarno. After four years of fighting and strong criticism from the international community, the Dutch government finally gave in, and in 1949, Indonesia was recognized as an independent country.


The People

Life in Bali is very communal with the organization of village, farming and even the creative art being decided by the community. Although the local government is responsible for schools, clinics, hospitals and roads, all other aspects of life are placed in the hands two traditional committees, whose roots in Balinese culture stretch back to centuries. The first, subak, concern the production of rice, and organizes the complex irrigation system. Everyone who own sawah, or paddy field, must join their local subak, which then ensures that every member get his fair distribution of irrigation water. Traditionally the head of subak has his sawah at the very bottom of the hill so that he has to pass through every other sawah before reaching his own. The other community organization is Banjar, which arranges all village festivals, married ceremony and cremations, as well as a form of community service known as Gotong Royong. Most villages have at least of one Banjar, and all male have to join one when they marry. Banjars, on everage, have a membership of between 50 to 100 families, and each Banjar has its own meeting placed call by Bale Banjar. As well as being used for regular meetings, the bale is the local Gamelan orchestras and drama groups practice.



Although the Balinese are Hindu, their religion is very different from that of Indian variety. They do have a caste system, but there are no untouchables and occupation is not governed by caste. In fact, the only thing that reflect the caste system is the language which three tiers 95% of all Balinese are Hindu Dharma, and speak low or everyday Balinese with each others: middle Balinese is use for talking to stranger s, at formal occasions or to people of the higher ksatriya caste, high Balinese is used for talking to the highest class, the Brahmana, or to Pedanda (priest ). It may sound complicated, but most of the words at the low and medium levels are the same, where as high Balinese is a mixture of middle Balinese and Kawi, the ancient Javanese language.

Although the Balinese worship the Hindu trinity Brahma, Vishnu and shiva these are seen as manifestations of the supreme god ‘ Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa ‘. Other Indian god like Ganesh ( The Elephant – Headed God ) often appear. But more commonly one will see shrines to the many gods and spirits that are uniquely Balinese. Balinese believe strongly in magic and the power of spirits, and much of their religion is based upon this. They believe that good spirits dwell in mountains and that the seas are home to demons and ogres. Most villages have at least three main temple; one, the Pura Puseh or ‘ Temple of Origin ‘ , faces the mountains and is dedicated to the village founder, another, the Pura Desa or village temple, is normally found in the centre and is dedicated to the welfare of the village, the last, the Pura Dalem, is aligned with the sea and is dedicated to the spirits of dead. Aside from these ‘village’ temples, almost every house has its own shrine, and you also can find a monument dedicated to the god of agriculture, art and all other aspects of life. There are some temples, for example, Pura Besakih on the slove of mount Agung, that are considered especially important and people from all over Bali travel to worship there.

Offerings are plays a significant role in Balinese life as they appease the spirits thus bring prosperity and good health to the family. Everyday little offerings trays ( canang sari ) containing symbolic food , flowers, cigarettes and money, are placed on shrines , in temple, outside houses and shop, and even on dangerous turn in the road.

Festivals are another great occasions for appeasing the God. the woman bear huge, beautifully arranged, pyramids of food, fruits and flowers on their heads while the man give a blood sacrifice in the form of cockfighting. There are traditional dances and music, and Gods are invited to come down and join the festivities. The festivals almost always very exciting occasion, and well worth observing, in you are in the area. One crucial thing to remember: should you wish to join in celebrations or enter a temple, there are a number of rules that have to be respected. Please see ’’ a word of advice ‘’ for rules.


Art and Artist

Artistically, Bali is a melting pot of cultures and tradition. The Balinese have a natural capacity for absorbing different cultural elements to blend them with their own, to produce dynamic new hybrids. , Buddhist, Indian, Hindu, Javanese and most recently, western. For centuries artists and craftsmen in Bali worked under the patronage of the priests and ruling classes, decorating palaces and temples. The artists themselves were anonymous, never signing their work and usually living close together in Artists ‘ village ’.



Artistically, Bali is a melting pot of cultures and tradition. The Balinese have a natural capacity for absorbing different cultural elements to blend them with their own, to produce dynamic new hybrids. , Buddhist, Indian, Hindu, Javanese and most recently, western. For centuries artists and craftsmen in Bali worked under the patronage of the priests and ruling classes, decorating palaces and temples. The artists themselves were anonymous, never signing their work and usually living close together in Artists ‘ village ’.

Generally the artists did not have much room for personal expression, as they designed followed strict aesthetic and religious guidelines. With the arrival of European artists at the start of this century, this soon began to change, and artists started developing their own individual styles.


Wood and Stone Carving

Wood carving like stone carving, traditionally featured largely in temple and palace architecture with little freestanding ‘sculpture ’ work produce commercially. Immaculately carved demons and mythical beings decorate pillars, door panels, lintels windows shutters with the aim of protecting the buildings from evil intruders scenes of legendary figures placed within floral decor set a more pleasant and educational tone.

When producing tools and objects for everyday use, sculptors had a much freer hand in choosing subject matter. With the arrival of European influences, wood carving started to develop along more innovative and commercial lines.

Although there have been noteworthy carvers, for example; I Nyoman Cokot, Ida Bagus Nyana and Ketut Nongos, artistic integrity has suffered as result of the commercial boom in tourist industry. These days whole village specialize in producing certain style of work. The village of mas, near ubud, is probably the best known for its carving of female figures, Buddhas, characters from Hindu Epic, and traditional Topeng and Wayang Wong masks.

Although stone carvings were mainly use to decorate temples and palaces, the carvers had much more leeway in their use of subject matter than the artists and illustrators. There is little difference between the iconography decorating temples and that private building. Gateways represent the dividing line between the inner and outer worlds, and as such are the recipients of some of the most fantastic carvings.

As well as portraying deities and demons, the carver include many scenes from public life and there are many temple surfaces enriched with the antique of the Dutch colonialist, including scene of bicycles, drunken parties, car break downs and even airplane, Bali’s modern day centre of stone carving is the village of Batubulan, situated half way between Denpasar and Gianyar.



One of the most striking things about Bali is the rich variety of cloths and materials that are to be seen in thousands of shop throughout the island
However, only one proportion of these are indigenous to Bali. The myriad of batik clothes and sarong available everywhere are mainly imported from java. a large proportion of the woven cloth ( ikat ) found in and around the Kuta or Legian area ,are imported from the island of Sumba and Flores. However Bali does have a very rich textile industry of its own. The beautiful songket fabrics worn by performers of traditional dance are a good example. In songket, gold and silver threads are woven into the cloth to create complete motif of birds, butterflies and flowers. Sometimes they use so much gold and silver and that the underlying cloth is barely visible. Endek, or weave ikat is another common method use in Bali. In weft ikat weaving, the weft threads are dyed to create the design and then women with plain warp threads these clothes are recognizable by their abstract design and bright colors.

Although by far the least common form of weaving to be seen in Bali, the geringsing, or double ikat, is perhaps the most sought after. With this technique, both the warp and weft threads are dyed to their final design before being woven together. With the exception of the certain areas in India and Japan, this weaving technique can only be found in the small Bali Aga village of Tenganan, east Bali.

although you can see excellent examples of Balinese stone carving all over the island, the temple in the north tend to be much more creative (with the exception of Pura Puseh in Batubulan). if you are planing on visiting northern Bali, it is worth taking the time to visit Pura Meduwe Karang in Kubutambahan, Pura Dalem in Jagaraga and Pura Beji near Singaraja. In order to see the work of Bali’s most famous stone carver ever and accomplished artist, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, visit Pura Saren Agung in Ubud.