Bali: The Online Travel Guide
"Temples are everywhere, especially in the mountains, where the Hindu Gods sought refuge from the Islamic invaders of Java."
An island rich in culture.
Religion, and its influences...
According to the legend, a one time King of Java, angry with his disobedient son,
banished him into exile. The legend tells us that the King waited until his son had
disappeared over the horizon, and then drew a line in the soil with his finger. The seas
to the north and south joined at this place, and the island of Bali was born.
Dynamic and agile, Balinese dance is exciting theatre,
filled with sharp corner-turnings, intricate coordination of eyeball, finger, neck and
shoulder movements. Entertaining, elegant and captivating, the dances are performed
according to strict tradition; the players are forbidden to improvise the movements
learned and perfected since early childhood.
The traditional style of paintings depict aspects of religious life or
mystical characters, painted in sombre hues of yellow, red and black, or sometimes in
plain charcoal. Contemporary adaptation and external influences have resulted in new
themes: often in vibrant colors, featuring people, animals and abstract imagery, that are
different yet uniquely Balinese.
The Balinese consider art to be a natural activity. Peasants by day, artists by night,
they are masters in expressing their religious beliefs and rituals into items of great
artistic value; from simple masks, statues and jewellery, to wall sized panels using
materials such as wood, stone, coral, bone, silver and gold. Painting and performance
complete the picture. It is no exaggeration to say that there are as many artists in Bali
as there are people.
The Caste System...
Balinese society is founded on the Hindu caste system, although in a somewhat simpler
form than that practiced in India. In Bali, there are four castes; Sundras, the peasants
who comprise over 90% of the population, Wesias, the warrior caste, which also includes
traders and some nobility, Satrias, the caste of kings, and Pedanas, the holy men and
Stages of Life...
Life on Earth is one stage in the continuity of existence. The cycle begins at birth,
an event cherished because the child is considered to be the reincarnation of an ancestor
destined to live again in an earthly form. The birth of a child is attended by the entire
family, and a holy man who invokes spiritual powers and aids the delivery. The umbilical
chord is preserved and kept for life, and the placenta is placed into a coconut shell and
buried near the entrance to the family house--to the right if the baby is a boy, to the
left if she is a girl.
Marriage is an act which must take place in order to honour ones ancestors, and
to perpetuate the race. To fail to marry and have children would be a willful decision to
exclude ones self from normal society, and will condemn the offender to feed swine
in the next world!
At the pyre, the body is put into a sarcophagas, which has been shaped appropriately
for the persons caste; a bull for brahman, a lion for Satrias, and an elephant-fish
Sundras, along with offerings and money. It is blessed and then incinerated. Once consumed
by the fire, the ashes are collected into coconut shells to be thrown into the sea or a
Copyright © 1994-1999, Wayne Reid.
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Disclaimer: All of the information available within this site is believed to be correct, however the author accepts no responsibility or liability for any outcomes that may result in using this site's contents.