Bali People


The origins of the Balinese came from three periods: The first waves of immigrants came from Java and Kalimantan in

the prehistoric times of the proto-Malay stock; the second wave of Balinese came slowly over the years from Java during

the Hindu period; the third and final period came from Java, between the 15th and 16th centuries, at the time of the

conversion of Islam in Java, aristocrats fled to Bali from the Javanese Majapahit Empire to escape Islamic conversion,

reshaping the Balinese culture into a syncretic form of classical Javanese culture with many Balinese elements.

Balinese culture is perhaps most known for its dance, drama and sculpture. The culture is noted for its use of the

gamelan in music. The island is also known for its form of Wayang kulit or Shadow play/Shadow Puppet theatre.

It also has several unique aspects related to their religions traditions.

Balinese culture is a mix of Balinese Hindu/Buddhist religion and Balinese custom.

The Balinese language itself does not recognize the word 'artist', because artistic life is part of the traditional daily

life in which in the past everyone in the society participated.

Balinese has a unique naming system, in which a person's rank of birth or caste is reflected in the name. 

Common used names are: Wayan, Putu, Made, Nyoman

Life in Bali is very communal with the organization of villages, farming and even the creative arts being decided

by the community. The local government is responsible for schools, clinics, hospitals and roads, but all other

aspects of life are placed in the hands of two traditional committees, whose roots in Balinese culture stretch

back centuries. The first, Subak, concerns the production of rice and organizes the complex irrigation system.

Everyone who owns as sawah, or padi field, must join their local Subak, which then ensures that every member

gets his fair distribution of irrigation water. Traditionally, the head of the Subak has his sawah at the very bottom

of the hill, so that the water has to pass through every other sawah before reaching his own.

The other community organization is the Banjar, which arranges all village festivals, marriage ceremonies and

cremations, as well as form of community service known as Gotong Royong. Most villages have at least one

Banjar and all males have to join one when they marry. Banjars, on average, have a membership of between

50 to 100 families and each Banjar has its own meeting place called the Bale Banjar.

As well as being used for regular meetings, the Bale (pavilion) is where the local gamelan orchestras and

drama groups practice.

Please also check our article about: Bali Religion