Information / History & Culture
A little about History and Culture
Bali is an island of a rich history which can be traced back to the pre-historic periods of Stone and Neolithic ages. Bali’s history has villages like Cecik and Sembiran in its fold that have been carbon dated to be thousands of years old. These and other villages found in the Northern and Western regions of Bali have been the discovery sites of intriguing artifacts just like other parts of Bali that have revealed fascinating burial sites and musical equipments. Balinese society has strong influences of the East Java culture. It became predominantly Hindu by the mid-1300s which was also when a colony was established. Prior to this, Bali was under the control of Hindu Majapahit Empire during the late 1200s. A part of the populace opposed the takeover from The Hindu Majapahit Empire and flew to the high grounds like Betur Lake developing a Balinese Highland culture. They are commonly referred to as the original Balinese, or Bali Aaga. Anthropologists believe that Bali isolation was the reason that it remained a predominantly a Hindu region unlike the rest of Indonesia.
The Dutch were the first explorers to set foot on the island with the Dutch East India Company which continued growing after 1602. By the mid-1800s, the Dutch established complete political control over Bali but allowed villagers and tribals to practice their religion and ancient customs. The Dutch rule ended in 1930 when the Japanese forces set in but was soon regained in the year 1945. After three years of constant fighting with the Balinese rebels, despite their victory, the Dutch seceded from Bali giving the nation its independence.
Bali’s culture and its roots run deep. It has known to leave people awestruck. Balinese traditional dance form, for example, expresses a drama and recites a tale using complex movements. Dancers learn these movements at an early age, as early as seven years of age. These dances are categorized as Wali dance, the sacred dance form performed in the inner court of a temple, Bebali dance, performed in the middle court, and Balih Balihan dance performed outside the premises of the temple.
Bali’s culture is not just about exceptional dance moves but about using the bodily movements for physical defense and attainment of higher psychological ends as well. Pencak silat, encompasses different forms of martial arts originating indigenously in Indonesia. It is a full body fighting form incorporating strikes using the belief that every part of the body can be attacked and can be used to attack.