Geography & Topography
As part of Indonesian archipelago, Bali is one of the 33 Indonesian provinces that consisted of Bali as mainland, Nusa Penida Island & other small isles that has extend of 5,636,66 km2. Bali is situated between Java & Lombok Island, with the Java sea to the north, the Indonesian Ocean to the south, the Bali Strait & the province of East Java to the west, and Lombok strait & Lombok Island to the east.
Bali is classified as a small island which is surrounded by smaller islands such as Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan in Klungkung regency, Serangan Island in Denpasar,and Menjangan Island in Buleleng regency.
Administratively, the province of Bali is divided into 8 regencies (Badung, Gianyar, Bangli, Klungkung, Karangasem, Buleleng, Negara, and Tabanan), 1 minicipality (Denpasar), 55 of district or “Kecamatan”, 701 of administrative villages or “Kelurahan”, 1,430 of Traditional Villages or “Desa Pekraman” and 3,945 of sub unit local community called” Banjar Adat”.
Bali has a tropical climate, which is influenced by seasonal wind that changing every sixth month. Bali has two main season, dry season (April – October) and rainy season (October- April) with a transition period in between. The temperature are between 270 C and 300 C. The rainfall is vary, between the lowest 893,4mm to the highest 2,702.6mm within last five year averages, while the average humidity was about 60% in dry season and 90% during rainy season.
Mountain in Bali are lies stretching from west to east, splitting the island. Some of the mountains are volcanic & some are not. The volcanoes include Mount Batur (1,717m) and Mount Agung (3,142m). The non-volcanic mountains like: Mount Merbuk (1,356m), Mount Patas (1,414m), Mount Seraya (1,058m), Mount Prapat Agung (310m), Mt. Klatakan (698m), Mt. Sanghyang (1,004m), Mt. Tapak, Mt. Adeng (1,807m), Mt. Mesehe (1,334m), Mt. Musi (1,224m), Mt. Lesung (1,860m), Mt. Penggilingan (2,098m), Mt. Catur (2,096m), Mt. Penulisan (1,745m) and Mt. Abang (2,153m).
This mountain chain divides Bali into two distinct areas. In the north of the island, the mountain slopes are very steep, leaving just narrow lowland area along North Bali’s seashores. In the south, however, the mountain slopes are slight, forming a fertile plain which is always open to external influences. That is the main reason why the Balinese dwell in this area, and why South Bali also become the main centre of Balinese culture. The south is also home to many white sandy beaches – the most famous ones are include Kuta Beach & Sanur Beach.
There are 4 main lakes in Bali, Lake Buyan (367hectare) and Lake Tamblingan (115 hectare) both are in Buleleng regency. Lake Beratan (376 hectare) in Tabanan regency and Lake Batur (1,605 hectare) nestled between mount Batur and mount Abang in Bangli regency. The river getting their sources from springs, forest and lake and mostly flow to the south, such as: Unda river, Petanu river, Ayung river, Melangit river and others.
The historical of Balinese culture period divide into three main phases, such as:
1. Pre Historic Culture; some prove remain that showed pre historic era in Bali derived
from the oldest era i.e. the era of hunting and food – stuff collecting in the simple ways.
2. The influences of Hindu-Buddhist era; were found some tools & equipments for hunting and foodstuff collecting, planting as well as building construction system of advanced time a particular communication, later has a significant meaning for the existence and further development of the Balinese culture. It was an interwoven of between the culture itself with Hinduism, started since the initial Christian time. The relationship & communication nowadays come to a perfect integration between religions, traditions and cultures or a cultural configuration being, as a matter of fact the identity of the Balinese community.
3. The influence of western culture introduced by the Dutch later on integrated with the Indonesian culture and then being Internationally opened through tourism.
The Bali history also reveals the existence of several dynasties and local Kingdoms with the first, Warmadewa Dynasty existed in around 913 AD, while King Dharma Udayana of Dynasty ruled Bali from 989-1011 AD. The King ruled over Bali accompanied by his Queen, Gunapriya Dharmapatni, a princess from East Java. From the marriage of both then born three princess, i.e: Airlangga, Marakata and Anak Wungsu.
Since 1343 AD, Bali was under the might of Majapahit and then since1352 was under the reign of Kresna Kepakisan Dynasty residing at Samprangan, Gianyar regency. After several years at Samprangan, the palace was moved to Gelgel in 1380 and then to Klungkung in 1686.
Instead of the Kingdom of Klungkung, in Bali at that time, there were also some Kingdom like: Gianyar, Karangasem, Bangli, Badung, Tabanan, Mengwi and Jembrana which also functioned as the development centre of culture.
Bali history also has noted the arrival of Islam to Bali at around 14th century and the Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman in 1597. Dutch rule over Bali came later, was more aggressively fought for, and they were never ultimately able to establish themselves as they had in other part of Indonesia such as Java and Maluku.
The war against the Dutch invader broke out in Buleleng ( North Bali ) in 1849, I Badung known as “Puputan Badung” in 1906 and in Klungkung ( Puputan Klungkung )in 1908. Then came the time of the Japanese invasion followed by physical revolution against the reinvasion of the Dutch through the great war known as “ Puputan Margarana “, 20 November 1946 under the command of Luitenant Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai who made command of suicide attack on the heavily armed Dutch. The Balinese battalion was entirely wiped out, breaking the last thread of Balinese military resistance. This Luitenant Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai died as National Hero. In 1946, the Dutch considered Bali as one of the 13administrative district of the newly-proclaimed Republic of East Indonesia, a rival state to the Republic of Indonesia which was proclaimed and headed by Soekarno and Hatta. Bali was included in the “Republic of the United States of Indonesia “ when the Netherlands recognized Indonesian independence on Dec 29, 1949.
In 1950, Bali officially renounced the Dutch union and legally became a province within the Republic of Indonesia. The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many ofdisplaced Balinese to be transmigrated to other part of Indonesia. In 1965, after a failed Coup D’taet in Jakarta against the National government of Indonesia, Bali , along with other regions of Indonesia most notably Java, was the scene of widespread killings of ( often falsely-accused ) members and sympathizers of the Communist Party of Indonesia ( PKI ) by right-wing General Soeharto-sponsored militias. Possibly more than100,000 Balinese were killed although the exact numbers are unknown even now and the events remain legally undisclosed. Many unmarked but well known mass graves of victims are located around the island. On October 12, 2002, a suicide car bomb was attack in the tourist resort of Kuta killed 202 people, mostly are the foreign tourists and injured a further 209. Three years later, other bombings occurred in Kuta and nearby Jimbaran Bay. The Government claims that those bombings done by terrorist of radical Islamic Organization known as Jemaah Islamiyah ( JI ). Three of them was executed to death in 2008, several are killed on the seized-drama by the anti terror task of Police Department in Java and other part of Indonesia. Meantime many of their accomplices being detained in prison.
Art of the Balinese is one of aspect of living, dominating every activity of the people or can be said that art is the living focus of the Balinese. Bali is very rich in artistic treasure and it lives and develops within the every throb of the Balinese life covering work of art like: fine art, performing art as well as music and song.
Fine arts consist of: sculpture, painting and decorating. The Balinese sculpture has been passing through along time of development and it can be seen from:
1. The existence of megalithic statues of pre-Hindu time considered as the mediator between human beings and ancestral spirits and natural power.
2. The existence of statue illustrating Deities as the mediator between humanbeings and Deities to show the influence of Hindu-Buddhism.
3. The existence of statues representing some figures of Ramayana and Mahabharata epics.
4. The existence of relief sculpted upon house walls and pillars.
5. The existence of naturalistic statues.
The same thing happens to the art of painting that has also been passing through along time of development process started with the existence of some magical drawings called “rerajahan” ( amulet ), religious paintings like those often found at temples or other holy places and naturalistic paintings as well.
Performing arts like traditional dancing according to its function can be classified into three kinds, i.e:
1. “Tari Wali” ( sacred dances ), a religious purpose dance that are only performed at the time of special religious events.
2. “Tari Bebali”, dances that performed to complete ceremonies.
3. “Tari Balih-balihan” ( profane dances ), dance to be performed for entertainment purpose.
Sacred dances ( tari wali ) taken as examples are: Sanghyang Dance, Dedari Dance, Rejang Sutri Dance, Pendet Dance, Baris Gede Dance, Baris Tumbak Dance, Baris Jangkang, Pusi, Sraman, Tekok Jago, Topeng Pajegan ( mask dance ), Wayang Sudhamala ( shadow puppet ), Abuang Dance, Brutuk Dance, Dakamalon Dance, Ngayap Dance, Kincang Kincung Dance, etc. with sets of costumes that are also considered sacred by the local communities.
Literatures as cultural heritages are great references and source of the other works of art. The Balinese have their ownletters and as a whole the Balinese literatures can be classified into:
- Ancient Balinese
- Hindu Balinese
- Java Balinese
- Neo Balinese
- Modern Balinese
A bounce of cultural attractions and creations from Bali have been put on stage everywhere in the world. People admire every move on Balinese dances, spirit behind the gambelan, the story of the puppet show, beautiful craft, brilliant of paintings, clothes, and other art and cultural designs.
Beyond the creativity, the deep understanding to the tradition and decency to present a masterpiece of art to the Great Creator, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Waca, also plays important role n cultural creations and attractions
Most of the Balinese are Hinduism adherents of over than 3 millions people ( 89,5% )of the total population. Other religion of population are: Islam ( 8% ), Christian Protestant ( 1% ), Christian Catholic ( 1% ), and Buddhist ( 0,5%).
The main principles of Hinduism are: “ Tattwa” ( philosophy ), Ethics ( rules of conduct ) and ritual/ceremony, with holy scripture called “ Wedha “, consist of four parts ( Samhita ), i.e:
1. Reg Wedha Samhita
2. Sama Wedha Samhita
3. Yajur Wedha Samhita
4. Attharwa Wedha Samhita
The essence of Hinduism teaching is called: “ Panca Craddha” ( Five of Faiths ), i.e:
1. Widhi Craddha, believe in God Almighty ( Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Waca )
2. Atma Craddha, believe in the existence of “ Atman “ or spirit in every God’s creatures
3. Karma Craddha, believe in the consequence of a conduct accordingly
4. Punar Bhawa Craddha, believe in reincarnation or rebirth after death
5. Moksha Craddha, believe in eternal happiness after death as the consequence of good conduct when alive.
The objective of life for Hindu Balineseas written in the Holy Scripture, Weddha is: “Moksartham Jagadditha Ya Ca Ithi Dharma” that means: “ with religion to achieve physical welfare as well as Spiritual happiness”.
The holy place to worship Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Waca, God Almighty with His manifestations called: “Pura”, which is according to its function can be classified into two kinds, i.e:
- Public Temple to worship God as the creator of the Universe, the Preserver and the Abolisher.
- Clan Temple, to worship the ancestral Holy Spirits.
Any ritual or ceremony offered to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Waca/God Almighty is called: “Yadnya”; in general, there are five kinds of ritual that Balinese Hindu people do in Bali, called : “Panca Yadnya”:
1. Dewa Yadnya, ritual or offering respectfully offered to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Waca ( God Almighty with His manifestations ).
2. Resi Yadnya, ritual or offering offered to high priest or priests
3. Manusa Yadnya, rituals held along human life-cycle time started from the time inside the mother’s womb, infancy, childhood, coming-of-age, adulthood and up to death.
4. Pitra Yadnya, rituals held to worship ancestor spirits.
5. ButhaYandnya, rituals that held to exorcise or to please the underworld spirits or power who maintain the natural balance.
Since long time ago, agriculture has been the main source of income for most Balinese. The Bali agricultural system that cultivates nature in order to fulfill the present and the future needs is based on local wisdom spirited by Hindu’s value. As a result, the Balinese agricultural system has many unique aspects compared to the agricultural system in other art of Indonesia. The one sample of the valuable agricultural system that has develop by Balinese is called Subak system. Subak is a religious, agrarian society based on customary laws. It has grown and developed historically as an organization of water management at the farming level in Bali. Rice, Corn, Soya and cassava are the main crops produced in Bali, while plantations produced such as Coconut, Tobaccos, Coffee, Cloves, Cashew Nut, Rubber, Vanilla and Cocoas.