Skip to main content
Select Source:

Balinese

Balinese

ETHNONYMS: none


Orientation

Identification. The Balinese live on the island of Bali, in the archipelago nation of Indonesia. Both their language, Balinese, and religion, Balinese Hinduism, reflect a Malayo-Polynesian culture influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism.

Location. Bali is located between 8° and 8°50 S and 114° 20 and 115°40 E. The area is 5,580 square kilometers. The climate is tropical with two seasons, rainy between October and March and dry between April and September.

Demography. In 1989 the population of Bali was about 2,782,038, of which perhaps 5 percent were Chinese, Muslim, and other minorities. The annual population increase was 1.75 percent. Denpasar, the capital, had a population of 261,263.

Linguistic Affiliation. Balinese is an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Javanic Subgroup. Despite phonological similarity with the languages of eastern Indonesia, Java has been a stronger linguistic and literary influence. Balinese was influenced by Indian languages both directly and through contact with Javanese. The earliest (eighth century a.d.) inscriptions found in Bali are in both Sanskrit and Old Balinese. Balinese has levels of speech that require speakers to adjust vocabulary to their relative caste position and reflect feelings about both the person spoken to and the subject matter spoken about. These levels are most elaborate when discussing the human body and its functions, with nine levels of vocabulary for some lexical items. Balinese script was derived from the Pallava writing systems of southern India.


History and Cultural Relations

Archaeological remains, inscriptions, and literary and oral historical accounts indicate that an indigenous population in Bali came into increasing contact with travelers from Java after the fifth century a.d. These outsiders brought Hindu and Buddhist ideas of religion, language, and political organization. It is not known whether the travelers were themselves from the subcontinent, Indianized inhabitants of Java, or both. In the eleventh century a.d., Airlangga, son of a Balinese king and a Javanese queen, became the first ruler to unite Bali with an eastern Javanese kingdom. For the following three centuries the Balinese were intermittently ruled from the east Javanese kingdom of Majapahit, which fell to Islamic forces in 1515. Court officials then fled to Balinese kingdoms where they strengthened the Indianized literary and statecraft traditions that endured in Bali, which was not influenced by Islam. For the next three centuries Bali had small kingdoms, several of which periodically dominated one or more of the others. The Dutch colonial government largely ignored Bali, which had no good harbor on the northern trade route, until the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1855 the first resident Dutch official arrived in north Bali and colonial control over the island increased thereafter until absolute direct governance was imposed by defeating the southern kingdoms militarily in 1906 and 1908. Direct Dutch colonial rule lasted until the Japanese occupied the island from 1942 to 1945. After World War II there was fighting in Bali between those who supported Indonesian independence and forces attempting to reestablish Dutch colonial rule.


Settlements

The Balinese define a village as the people who worship at a common village temple, not as a territorial unit. In fact, inhabitants almost always live in a contiguous area and both colonial and national governments have sought to redefine the village as a territorially based administrative unit. Settlements are centered on the village temple and public buildings, which are usually situated at the intersection of a major and minor road. Both the village and the house yards within it are ideally laid out, with the most sacred buildings in the area nearest Mount Agung, the abode of the gods, and the profane structures nearest the sea, the region of more ambivalent spiritual beings. Families live in house yards that are open, walled areas containing buildings, including a family temple facing the direction of Mount Agung, one or more pavilions for sleeping and sitting, a kitchen, and a refuse area where pigs are kept. Wealthy families have large yards with brick, tile-roofed buildings decorated with fine carvings in stone and wood. Poor families have smaller yards with buildings and walls being made of mud and wattle.

Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. For centuries the Balinese have been wet-rice farmers whose irrigation system regulates planting on mountain slopes and seaside plains. Yearly double-cropping is common and the national government supports the introduction of several strains that permit three annual crops in certain areas. Small mechanized plows can be used only in level areas. More commonly, water buffalo pull plows in small family fields, often steep terraces on the mountainsides. Although the volcanic soil is naturally rich, multiple-crop schemes require chemical fertilization. The government protects the rice price and buys all excess harvest for redistribution. In the west of the island there is a profitable coffee-growing region and in the north oranges are a cash crop. The local Balinese economy is based almost entirely on agriculture and government employment in offices and schools. Although Bali has a large tourist trade, most local households do not participate in this kind of economic activity.

Industrial Arts. There is no heavy industry in Bali and little light manufacturing. In tourist areas, carvers and painters produce objects for sale to visitors, often on consignment from art shops.

Trade. In towns, goldsmiths, tailors, and other merchants provide consumer goods. Each town has a market for vegetables, fruit, packaged and other foodstuffs, and animals such as pigs and chickens. Such markets are also held on a rotating basis in some villages. Villagers, often women, bring agricultural items to sell and return home with manufactured goods to peddle either door-to-door or in small shops. Alternatively, merchants may go to the village to buy agricultural goods or to sell such items as cloth, patent medicines, or soap. Men sell cattle in a central market.

Division of Labor. In agricultural activities men plow and prepare the fields. Men and women plant and harvest manually in large groups, while weeding is done by family members. Women keep the gardens, care for the pigs, and keep small snack stalls; they often control the income they gain from these activities. Men care for the cattle that are kept in garden areas. Women care for the children, assisted by the husband or other family members. Although men and women replace each other in domestic and agricultural chores when necessary, there is a stricter distinction between men's and women's ritual work. Men are the priests and women make the elaborate offerings used in rituals.

Land Tenure. Legally, rice and garden land are owned and registered in the name of an individual man, although his sons may be working his holdings. Villagers consider land to belong to a patrilineal descent group with the current owner inheriting the right to use, or dispose of, the land. Royal families formerly had large holdings.


Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Balinese distinguish different types of kinship relationships. Each type, from the smallest to the most inclusive, is described as a group of men, related through a common ancestor, who worship with their families at a common ancestor temple. The group is organized around the performance of rituals twice a year at these temples. The household has a temple in the house yard. The men (and their families) who divide an inheritance have a larger local ancestor temple. These inheritance groups can be joined into larger putative kin groups, which assert, but cannot trace, descent from a common ancestor. A family may be active only in a small, local ancestor group or they may see themselves as part of a series of nested groups with alliances in other parts of the island. Larger kin groups are likely to form and be strong in factionalized areas and times. Kin-group membership is reckoned patrilaterally but matrilateral kinship is also remembered.

Kinship Terminology. Kin terms are Hawaiian or generational with all men of father's generation bilaterally referred to as "father," and so on with mother, cousins, grandparents, and children. Individuals have a teknonym that indicates their gender, caste, and birth order. Children are called by this teknonym and adults are called "father of .. . " or "mother of... " after the birth of their first child. Old people are known as "grandfather or grandmother of.... "


Marriage and Family

Marriage. Residence after marriage is patrilocal. Although men may have more than one wife, most marriages are monogamous. Ideally women should not marry men of lower caste or kinship group; a family acknowledges inferiority toward their daughter's husband's group. To avoid such an admission in areas where kin groups are strong and opposed, there is a preference for ancestor-temple group endogamy. In other areas most marriages are village-endogamous with wealth and personal attraction playing an important part in marriage choice. Divorce rules vary but generally a woman married less than three years returns to her father's home with nothing. If she has been married more than three years, and is not adulterous, she receives a percentage of what the couple has earned after the marriage, but none of her husband's inheritance. Children of a marriage remain with their father. When a woman has been chosen by her father as his heir, the divorce rules are applied in reverse.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit consists of people who eat from the same kitchen. The household includes the husband, wife, children, patrilateral grandparents, and unmarried siblings.

Inheritance. The Balinese inherit patrilineally. A man without sons may choose a daughter to inherit or allow his brothers to divide his property. The family house yard is inherited by the oldest or the youngest son, who is then responsible for any old people or siblings still living there. Socialization. Children are cared for by their parents, grandparents, and older siblings. They are treated with great affection. Boys are taught to be lively and capable, while girls are encouraged to be responsible and attractive.


Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Balinese individuals and kin groups identify themselves as being members of one of four hereditary caste groups. These groups are said to have in the past corresponded to occupational categories, although this is no longer the case. Ninety percent of the population is Sudra, the group said to have been farmers and considered to be of lower caste. Certain ritual activities are reserved to priests of the Brahman caste and the former rulers who were of the Ksaytria and Wesia castes, but other members of these groups are, and were, farmers and merchants. Families belonging to the three higher castes are more likely to be part of supravil1age ancestor-temple groups.

Political Organization. Bali is one of the twenty-eight provinces of the nation of Indonesia. The province is divided into seven regions (kabupaten ), each of which is subdivided into districts (kecamatan ). Districts are divided into villages (desa ), which are composed of subunits (banjar ). The units above the village level carry out regional and national policy. The village-level officials are elected by the village council, which is made up of male heads of household. These leaders execute governmental policies such as registration of land sales, births and deaths, and also organize local projects including the repair of facilities and the holding of local elections.

Social Control. Above the village level there is a police force. In the village there is a system of fines for residents who do not attend meetings or group work projects. However, informal control mechanisms such as gossip and group pressure are used more frequently.

Conflict. The Balinese avoid the open expression of conflict. Villagers who have protracted quarrels such as legal disputes over inheritance usually try to avoid each other. Supravillage conflict formerly led to warfare.


Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Balinese Hinduism mixes Hinduism with animistic traditions. Each temple congregation holds periodic rituals to placate and please the supernaturals and thereby protect the group's peace and prosperity. The Balinese make offerings to their ancestors, spirits connected to places, and other supernaturals, some with Indic names.

Religious Practitioners. The larger ceremonies are conducted by Brahman priests. Lower-caste priests care for temples and perform local ceremonies.

Ceremonies. Rituals are performed on several cycles, the most important being the six-month cycle. Every six months there are islandwide ceremonies, and each temple has an anniversary ritual every six months. There are also life-cycle rituals arranged by families, the most important being the cremation.

Arts. Rituals, whether family or village, may include music, dance, drama, and shadow-play performances. In ritual context artistic performance has a sacred association. Stone and wood carving in home or temple indicates high prestige for the owner or congregation. Royal and wealthy people have supported artistic performances and productions, in part as a display of their prestige. Tourist art includes paintings, carvings, and shortened secular performances.

Medicine. Government medical care is widely available and used. Indigenous medicine holds that illness or other misfortunes can be caused by angry spirits or ancestors, witchcraft, or imbalance in the bodily humors.

Death and Afterlife. A person's caste, wealth, and prestige are reflected in the size and elaborateness of his or her funeral. Living descendants must perform rituals that move the deceased souls through the afterlife to rebirth in a younger member of the family. Neglect of these rituals may cause the dead ancestor to make family members ill.


Bibliography

Belo, Jane (1949). Bali: Rangda and Barong. Monographs of the American Ethnological Society, 16. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press.


Belo, Jane (1960). Trance in Bali, New York: Columbia University Press.


Geertz, Clifford (1980). Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth Century Bali. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press.


Geertz, Hildred, and Clifford Geertz (1975). Kinship in Bali. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Swellengrebel, J. L., et al. (1960). Bali: Life, Thought, and Ritual The Hague: W. van Hoeve.


Swellengrebel, J. L., et al. (1969). Bali: Further Studies in Life, Thought, and Ritual The Hague: W. van Hoeve.


ANN P. McCAULEY

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Balinese." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Balinese." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/balinese

"Balinese." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved September 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/balinese

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Balinese

Balinese

PRONUNCIATION: bahl-uh-NEEZ

LOCATION: Indonesia

POPULATION: 3 million

LANGUAGE: Balinese

RELIGION: Native version of Hinduism

1 INTRODUCTION

Much of the outside world's image of Indonesia is based on Bali, which is a prime tourist destination. However, Balinese culture is very different from the national mainstream, especially in its unique Hindu-animist religion. Inscriptions from the ninth and tenth centuries ad record the emergence of Balinese kingdoms that would later fall under Javanese domination. In the sixteenth century, King Batu Renggong of Gelgel unified Bali. The social and religious order that was established at that time continues to the present day.

Tourist money has made Bali one of Indonesia's wealthiest regions, both promoting and distorting traditional culture.

2 LOCATION

The island of Bali covers 2,243 square miles (5,808 square kilometers), an area slightly larger than the state of Delaware. Its population of three million is, however, three times as high as that of Delaware. The island has an unbroken eastwest chain of volcanoes and a narrow plain along the north coast. A series of valleys stretches south to the Indian Ocean.

3 LANGUAGE

The Balinese speak an Austronesian language whose closest relative is Sasak, the language of Lombok. Although now they increasingly use Latin letters, their traditional script was a distinct version of the Javanese alphabet.

The Balinese language has a system of politeness levels. The High (tinggi) language is spoken only to Brahmana priests. The Middle (madia) or Refined (halus) level is used when addressing people of high social status, older people, or one's parents. The Low (rendah) or Ordinary (biasa) level serves for talking to those one considers of equal or inferior status.

One common way of referring to adults is by a name that identifies them in relation to a child or grandchild, such as "Father (Pan) of," "Mother (Men) of," or "Grandfather (Kak) of." The Balinese also have a custom of assigning names according to birth order. For example, in Sudra families, the firstborn child will receive the name "Wayan"; the second, "Made"; the third, "Nyoman"; the fourth, "Ketut"; and the fifth, "Putu."

4 FOLKLORE

Leyak are witches who are ordinary people by day but who are believed to leave their bodies at night. They take many different shapes (a monkey, a bird, a disembodied head, a ghostly light). They can cause disease or crop failure, or poison food. Amulets (charms) or mantra (incantations) acquired from a priest or shaman can combat them.

5 RELIGION

Unlike the vast majority of Indonesians, the Balinese are not Muslim but Hindu (except for tiny Christian and Buddhist minorities). Their Hinduism combines the Indian model with elements of native religion. The object of their religious practices is to maintain a balance between good and evil forces. Thus, Balinese make offerings to both gods and demons. They recognize a wide range of supernatural beings, including demons, ancestral spirits, and divinities such as the sun god Surya and the rice goddess Dewi Sri.

6 MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Each of the thousands of temples on Bali celebrates its own odalan or festival, usually lasting three days.

Galungan is a ten-day festival celebrated throughout the island. The gods and deified ancestors are invited to descend from heaven. Penjor tall, decorated bamboo polesare raised in front of each house and temple to represent fertility.

Eka Dasa Rudra is a holiday that occurs only once every 100 years. (The last time was in 1979.) It entails several weeks of ceremonies at Bali's supreme temple, Besakih, on the slopes of Gunung Agung. The aim is to purify the entire universe by exorcising a chaotic element called Rudra.

7 RITES OF PASSAGE

Depending on a family's social status, as many as thirteen life-cycle rituals (manusa yadnya) may be performed. Events that are marked include the sixth month of pregnancy; birth; the falling off of the umbilical cord; the twelfth, forty-second, and one-hundred-fifth days after birth; the two-hundred-tenth day after birth, marking the child's first "touching of the earth"; the emergence of the first adult tooth; the loss of the last baby tooth; the onset of puberty (first menstruation for girls); tooth-filing; marriage; and purification for study.

When they are ready to become adults, tooth-filing is performed on teenagers. It is believed to purge them of their "animal nature," which is symbolized by the fang-like upper canine teeth.

Full adulthood, in the sense of full social responsibility, begins only with marriage. Weddings involve roughly three stages: (1) a ceremony in which the boy's family asks the girl's family for the hand of the girl; (2) the wedding ceremony itself; and (3) a formal visit by the new couple and the groom's family to the bride's family so that the bride may "ask leave" of her own ancestors.

Cremation is performed after death. However, a proper ceremony is extremely expensive. The family may take months or even years to accumulate the necessary funds. In the meantime they find a temporary storage or burial spot for the body. For the ceremony itself, the body is carried to the cremation field in a portable tower. The tower is rotated at each crossroads so that the deceased's spirit cannot find its way back home to haunt the living. The dead cannot become deified ancestors until they have been properly cremated.

8 RELATIONSHIPS

Balinese society is divided into four castes, or social classes: Brahmana, Satria, Wesia, and Sudra. When starting a conversation with a person of high social status, one bows. With children and people lower on the social ladder, one simply nods. One takes advice, instruction, or criticism by saying nggih (a respectful "yes") or with silence. Referring humbly to one's own person, property, or achievements is essential to polite conversation.

Between adolescents of opposite sexes, only chatting at food stalls in the presence of others is acceptable interaction.

9 LIVING CONDITIONS

The Balinese family lives in a walled compound (uma) inhabited by a group of brothers and their respective families. Within it, grouped around a central courtyard, are separate buildings for cooking, storing rice, keeping pigs, and sleeping. Each compound has a shrine (sanggah). A thatched pavilion (bale) serves for meetings and ceremonies. A walled-in pavilion (bale daja) stores family heirlooms. Rivers serve for toilet and bathing functions.

10 FAMILY LIFE

Marriage between members of different castes is now common. Most newlywed couples remain in the groom's compound. Households include married sons and their families until they are able to establish their own households. At least one son must stay behind to care for the parents in their old age.

Although menstruating women are considered ritually impure and may not enter temples, discrimination against women is not pronounced. However, within the family there is a clear division of labor. Women buy and sell in the markets, cook, wash, care for the pigs, and prepare offerings. Men work for the banjar (community organization), prepare spices and meat for feasts, play in orchestras, attend cockfights, and drink together in the early evenings. Women join the caste of their husbands.

11 CLOTHING

In work outside the home, especially for office and store jobs, Balinese wear Western-style clothes. Around the house, men wear shorts and a tank top, or a sarong (a skirtlike garment). Men's traditional clothing includes a kamben sarung (a type of sarong) of endek (a locally made cloth) or batik cloth.

Women wear a kamben lembaran sarong, usually of mass-produced batik cloth. It is often worn with a sash (selempot) when outside the house. For temple ceremonies, women wear a sabuk belt wrapped around the body up to the armpits, with a kebaya jacket over it. Most women now wear their hair too short for traditional hairstyles, so they wear wigs to go with ritual dress.

12 FOOD

The Balinese eat their meals individually, quickly, and at no fixed times, snacking very frequently. Everyday food consists of rice and vegetable side dishes, sometimes with a bit of chicken, fish, tofu (bean curd), or tempeh (fermented bean curd), and seasoned with chili sauce (sambel) made fresh daily. Many dishes require basa genep, a standard spice mixture composed of sea salt, pepper, chili, garlic, shrimp paste, ginger, and other ingredients.

For ceremonial feasts, men prepare ebat, chopped pig or turtle meat mixed with spices, grated coconut, and slices of turtle cartilage or unripe mango. Other Balinese specialties are babi guling (stuffed pig turned over a fire), and bebek betutu (stuffed duck wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in ashes).

13 EDUCATION

See the article on "Indonesians" in this chapter.

14 CULTURAL HERITAGE

The traditional performing arts of the Balinese are an essential part of religious ceremonies, as well as entertainment. The numerous types of Balinese musical ensembles are variants of the gamelan orchestra, for which Indonesia is famous. It consists of drums, flutes, and bronze instruments (or substitutes of iron or bamboo). A vast array of dances are performed. The most famous include the Baris dance, depicting warriors; the Legong dance, depicting dueling princesses; and the Barong, in which a mythical lion, symbol of the good, combats an evil witch.

Several types of drama are practiced. These include the wayang kulit shadow play, and various forms of masked and unmasked theater (topeng, wayang wong, and gambuh).

Balinese literature has been preserved in lontar, palm-leaf books. It includes epics of gods and heroes, and tales of the old Balinese kingdoms.

15 EMPLOYMENT

Some 70 percent of the Balinese earn a living from agriculture. Wet-rice cultivation is practiced in areas where there is enough water. Elsewhere, nonirrigated crops such as dry rice, corn, cassava, and beans are raised. Sharecropping (working someone else's land in return for a share of the crop) has become common in the most densely populated areas.

Many Balinese are employed in cottage (small) and medium-scale industries. Since the 1970s, the garment industry has grown dramatically. There are also factories for printing, canning, and coffee and cigarette processing. Tourism provides work in hotels, travel bureaus, guide and taxi services, and craft shops.

16 SPORTS

Although officially banned in 1981 due to gambling, cockfights are still permitted as a necessary part of temple rituals. Cricket fighting continues as a milder substitute.

17 RECREATION

See the article on "Indonesians" in this chapter.

18 CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

The most popular crafts are painting, stone-carving, woodcarving, puppetmaking, weaving, and gold-and silverworking. The most popular locally made cloth is endek.

19 SOCIAL PROBLEMS

See the article on "Indonesians" in this chapter.

20 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cribb, R. B. Historical Dictionary of Indonesia. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1992.

Lubis, Mochtar. Indonesia: Land under the Rainbow. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Oey, Eric, ed. Bali: Island of the Gods. Berkeley: Periplus, 1990.

WEBSITES

Indonesian Embassy in Canada. [Online] Available http://www.prica.org/, 1998.

Interknowledge Corp. [Online] Available http://www.interknowledge.com/indonesia/, 1998.

World Travel Guide. Indonesia. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/id/gen.html, 1998.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Balinese." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Balinese." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/balinese

"Balinese." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved September 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/balinese

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Balinese

Ba·li·nese / ˌbäləˈnēz; ˌbal-; -ˈnēs/ • adj. of or relating to Bali or its people or language. • n. (pl. same) 1. a native of Bali. 2. the Indonesian language of Bali.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Balinese." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Balinese." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/balinese-0

"Balinese." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved September 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/balinese-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Balinese

BalineseAchinese, Ambonese, appease, Assamese, Balinese, Belize, Beninese, Bernese, bêtise, Bhutanese, breeze, Burmese, Cantonese, Castries, cerise, cheese, chemise, Chinese, Cingalese, Cleese, Congolese, Denise, Dodecanese, ease, éminence grise, expertise, Faroese, freeze, Fries, frieze, Gabonese, Genoese, Goanese, Guyanese, he's, Japanese, Javanese, jeez, journalese, Kanarese, Keys, Lebanese, lees, legalese, Louise, Macanese, Madurese, Maltese, marquise, Milanese, Nepalese, Nipponese, officialese, overseas, pease, Pekinese, Peloponnese, Piedmontese, please, Portuguese, Pyrenees, reprise, Rwandese, seise, seize, Senegalese, she's, Siamese, Sienese, Sikkimese, Sinhalese, sleaze, sneeze, squeeze, Stockton-on-Tees, Sudanese, Sundanese, Surinamese, Tabriz, Taiwanese, tease, Tees, telegraphese, these, Timorese, Togolese, trapeze, valise, Viennese, Vietnamese, vocalese, wheeze •superficies • Héloïse • Averroës •rabies • pubes • Maccabees •headcheese

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Balinese." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Balinese." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/balinese

"Balinese." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved September 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/balinese

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Balinese

Balinese

PRONUNCIATION: BAHL-uh-neez
LOCATION: Indonesia (Bali)
POPULATION: 3 million
LANGUAGE: Balinese
RELIGION: Indigenized version of Hinduism
RELATED ARTICLES: Vol. 3: Indonesians

INTRODUCTION

Although, as Southeast Asia's prime tourist destination, Bali provides much of Indonesia's image to the outside world, Balinese culture deviates widely from the national mainstream, most crucially in its unique Hindu-animist religion. Created from the early 1st millennium AD on, huge stone sarcophagi and bronze drums attest to the fertile island's ability to support social stratification and attract long-distance trade. Inscriptions from the 9th to 10th centuries record the emergence of Hinduized kingdoms that would later fall under the domination, political and cultural, of the great east Javanese realms. In 1334, Gajah Mada, the prime minister of the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit, conquered Bali, laying the foundations for the later transplantation of Hindu-Javanese culture by refugees from Majapahit after its fall to Islamized rival states. In the 16th century, King Batu Renggong of Gelgel unified Bali (acquiring also Lombok, Sumbawa, and parts of East Java) and in partnership with the high priest Nirartha established the socioreligious order that continues to the present day.

By the 18th century, Gelgel's domain had fragmented into nine competing kingdoms. Beginning in the 1840s, the Dutch, initially on the pretext of punishing the Balinese for plundering shipwrecks, involved themselves more and more in the island's internal affairs, imposing direct rule on north and west Bali in 1853. Between 1894 and 1908, the Dutch subdued the Balinese kingdoms first in Lombok and then in south Bali; bloody resistance by the royal courts ended in puputan (suicide charges) into Dutch fire. However, the Dutch ruled Bali through the surviving aristocrats; the latter became administrators and major landowners, as well as playing up their religious authority. Colonial legislation rigidified caste hierarchies at the expense of rising commoner families. After Indonesia won its independence from the Dutch in 1950, increasing competition over land in an overpopulated island (suffering, moreover, the effects of the catastrophic eruption of Gunung Agung, Bali's most sacred volcano in 1963) and the penetration of rival nationwide political networks into Balinese rural society intensified social conflicts, culminating in the anticommunist massacres of 1965–66 that claimed 100,000 lives and annihilated whole villages.

Suharto's New Order regime (1966–1998) promoted Bali as a destination for international tourism, seeing the resulting income flow as essential to achieving its development goals for Indonesia as a whole. At the same time, the government sought to minimize what it considered to be the erosive effects of tourism on traditional Balinese culture by confining large-scale tourist infrastructure (especially high-class hotels) to a zone on Bali's southern peninsula; towns there, such as Kuta, are barely distinguishable from beach resort areas in other parts of the world, including the appearance of some European nude bathing. Catering to foreign "hippies" and other budget travelers, cheap guesthouses have proliferated beyond the official tourist zone, and domestic tourism into Bali, particularly among urban middle-class Javanese and Chinese-Indonesians discouraged from travel abroad by heavy airport departure taxes, has grown massively.

Still, tourism is only one of the phenomena transforming contemporary Balinese culture: the same economy- and nation-building program pursued by the government in the rest of the country, including everything from the Green Revolution to the institutionalization of religion, has been a more important one as have been generic industrialization and urbanization. Balinese indigenous culture is changing and thriving, driven by internal dynamics to which tourist consumption of such things as abbreviated dance shows is peripheral. The complex situation is captured in the following paradox: while, in the cities, preparation of daily offerings to gods and demons has become a noticeably rushed affair with women and girls often simply buying offerings at market before heading to work, at the same time, the productivity of workers in the garment industry is lowered by the time and energy they spend on traditional rituals, ignoring workplace rules.

Bali has remained largely free of the violence that has afflicted some other parts of Indonesia during and since the fall of Suharto, though it was the site of the most murderous terrorist attacks in the world since the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, the suicide bombings of Denpasar tourist bars by (ethnically Javanese) Islamic militants on 12 October 2002 (202 people were killed, of which 88 were Australians and 38 Indonesians). The assertion of Islamism in Indonesia as a whole, though restrained by moderate Muslim, secular, and Christian counter-pressure, has caused some concern for the Balinese: a recent "anti-pornography" bill has been viewed as potentially threatening traditional Balinese religious art.

LOCATION AND HOMELAND

Separated by narrow straits from Java to the west and Lombok to the east, the island of Bali covers 5,808 sq km (2,243 sq mi), or an area slightly larger than the state of Delaware. Its population of 3.4 million is, however, four times as high as that of Delaware. Population density (2005 figures) reaches 601 people per sq km., three times as high as in neighboring West Nusa Tenggara, more than six times than in East Nusa Tenggara, and 79% that of East Java. An unbroken east–west chain of volcanoes leaves a narrow plain along the north coast. A series of valleys carved by swiftly flowing rivers stretches south to the Indian Ocean; the southernmost tip of the island is an arid limestone peninsula.

The axis between the mountains and the sea dominates the Balinese sense of orientation. For instance, custom dictates that one should sleep with one's head facing kaja, the direction of the divine mountains, and one's feet facing kelod, the direction of the demonic sea (the soles of the feet should not face a party that must be shown respect, in this case the mountains). Kaja can mean "north" or "south" depending upon the location.

The Balinese have not been known as a seafaring people nor, before the 20th century, as migrants (except in western Lombok). Overpopulation, however, has forced many Balinese to participate in government-sponsored transmigration to South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Nusa Tenggara (Balinese form 3% of the population of West Nusa Tenggara province). On the other hand, Bali attracts people from other islands, especially Java; 11% of the population of Bali is ethnically non-Balinese.

LANGUAGE

The Balinese speak an Austronesian language whose closest relative is Sasak, the language of Lombok. Although now they increasingly use Latin letters, their traditional script was a calligraphically distinct version of the Javanese alphabet. From its earliest recorded form (in an inscription from AD 882), the Balinese language shows profound influences from Sanskrit and Kawi (Old Javanese).

Balinese linguistic etiquette employs a system of politeness levels (High, Refined, Middle, and Low). Most words only have one form in all levels, but a few hundred of the most basic words, ranging from conjunctions to names of body parts, do have more than one form, e.g., "to eat" can be ngunggahang (referring to a Brahmana priest); ngajeng (referring to other high-caste people); nglungsur (referring to common people); naar (referring to family members); or ngamah (referring to animals).

Nowadays, the High (tinggi) language is spoken only to Brahmana priests; in most families, no more than one member is fluent in it, and so he or she alone approaches Brahmana with requests. The Refined (alus) level is used when addressing higher-status people, older people, and one's parents. The Low (rendah, also referred to as Ordinary, biasa, or Coarse,kasar) level serves for talking to those one considers of equal or inferior status: children; relatives; intimate friends; and lower-status people, such as maids; men address their wives with the Low language. Strangers whose status is as yet unknown are addressed with a mixture of Refined and Ordinary levels. The Middle (madia) level is used to people of equal status with whom one is not intimate. When two Balinese meet for the first time, they begin the conversation in the Middle level, and then, once it becomes clear who is of higher status than the other, each speaker adjusts his level accordingly.

Although the old etiquette is scrupulously observed in the context of religious rituals and other customary activities, in other contexts this is becoming less and less the case. In recent times, higher-caste people have been using the Refined level with lower-caste people, particularly if the latter rank high in the national bureaucracy. Classmates converse in the Ordinary level, regardless of caste differences. In schools in the provincial capital of Denpasar, teachers address students using the Middle level (in conservative east Bali, the medium of instruction is the Refined level, which is also what strangers there will use the first time they meet). As in Java, the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, taught in school at all levels, offers a means of communication whereby people can avoid locating themselves and others within the traditional hierarchy (though not necessarily evading any of modern society's status differences).

One common way of referring to adults is by a name that places them in relation to a child or grandchild, e.g., "Father (Pan) of X," "Mother (Men) of Y," or "Grandfather (Kak) of Z." Moreover, custom assigns names according to birth order among siblings. For Sudra families, the first-born will receive the name "Wayan," the second "Made," the third "Nyoman," the fourth "Ketut," and the fifth "Putu." To these, the Wesya will prefix "Gusti" for males and "Gusti Ayu" or "Ida"/"Ni," for females; the Satrya "Dewa" (males) and "Dewa Ayu" (females) or "Agung Gede," and the Brahmana "Ida Bagus" (males) or "Ida Ayu" (females).

FOLKLORE

Leyak are witches who are ordinary people by day but who leave their bodies at night, taking any shape (a monkey, a bird, a disembodied head, a ghostly light). Haunting cemeteries and crossroads, leyak can cause disease or crop failure, poison food, or introduce foreign objects into their victims' bodies. Amulets or mantra (incantations) acquired from a priest or shaman can combat them. A person who dies without any apparent cause is regarded as having been a leyak whose spirit, for whatever reason, never returned to the body after a night's roaming.

RELIGION

Unlike the vast majority of Indonesians, the Balinese are not Muslims but Hindu (except for tiny Christian and Buddhist minorities). Their Hinduism is not a wholesale transplant of the Indian religion but rather consists of the grafting of Indian elements onto an indigenous stem. Balinese believe that kesaktian, "potency" or "magical power," is present in ritual objects, trees, stones, mountains, etc., and must be respected. The object of their religious practices is to maintain the equilibrium between the "upper" (pure, good, constructive) forces and the "lower" (impure, evil, destructive) forces. Thus, Balinese make offerings to both gods and demons, e.g. prepared food, especially rice cakes, or leaf-weavings for the former and the blood of freshly slaughtered animals for the latter.

The Balinese recognize an immense range of supernatural beings, ranging from demons to ancestral spirits to divinities, such as the sun god Surya (a manifestation of the Hindu deity Siwa [Shiva]) and the rice goddess Dewi Sri. Since the Indonesian state philosophy Pancasila emphasizes monotheism, the organization Parisada Hindu Dharma (founded in 1959) has promoted the worship of Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, a supreme being of which all the other deities are lesser manifestations. This "reform" has not altered everyday practices other than to install Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa's shrine, an empty lotus seat, in every temple.

All rituals aim to purify and thus require holy water that people can only obtain from priests. Other religious specialists include several types of balian, "shamans" (masseuses, healers, augurs, spirit mediums, and so-called "literate" balians who use lontar, palm-leaf manuscripts, in their magic).

MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Each of the thousands of temples on Bali celebrates its own odalan or festival, usually lasting three days. The timing of these festivals is determined by a calendrical system including a 210-day ritual cycle and a 12-month lunar cycle, the latter numbered according to the Indian Saka year, the first of which corresponded to AD 78. In addition, there are three "week" cycles: a Balinese market week (three days: Pasah, Beteng/Tegeh, Kajeng); a Javanese market week (five days: Umanis, Paing, Pon, Wage, Kliwon) and the seven-day week.

Galungan, a festival celebrated throughout the island, runs for 10 days, beginning with the first day of the eleventh week of the 210-day year; the Balinese invite the gods and deified ancestors to descend from heaven, which is directly above the island's greatest mountain, Gunung Agung. As Galungan originated as a harvest festival, penjor, high bamboo poles bending with decorations, are raised in front of each house and temple to represent fertility.

Nyepi occurs on the first day of the Saka year. While on the eve people make a great deal of noise, either to drive demons away or call their attention to offerings laid out for them, on Nyepi itself people observe absolute quiet—not even vehicles may travel.

Eka Dasa Rudra occurs only once every 100 years, the last time being in 1979. This entails several weeks of ceremonies at Bali's supreme temple, Besakih, on the slopes of Gunung Agung, whose aim is to purify the entire universe by exorcising Rudra, the chaotic aspect of Siwa.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Depending on the caste or wealth of a family, as many as 13 life-cycle rituals (manusa yadnya) can be performed: the sixth month of pregnancy; birth; the falling off of the umbilical cord; the 12th, 42nd, and 105th days after birth; the 210th day after birth, marking the child's first "touching of the earth"; the emergence of the first adult tooth; the loss of the last baby tooth; the onset of puberty (first menstruation for girls); tooth-filing; marriage; and purification for study.

Great care is taken to show respect to a newborn infant's "spiritual siblings": the placenta, the amniotic fluid, the blood, and the lamas or banah, a natural yellow salve covering the skin; the placenta is buried under a river stone at the entrance of the sleeping house. These "four companions" (kanda empat) can, if properly treated, protect the child in life, but, if neglected, may harm it.

As a necessary prerequisite to adulthood, tooth-filing is performed on teenagers to purge them of the "animal" nature, associated with the evils of lust, greed, anger, drunkenness, confusion, and jealousy, that are symbolized by the fang-like upper canines.

Full adulthood, in the sense of complete social responsibility, begins only with marriage. Wedding protocol involves roughly three stages: a ceremony whereby the boy's family asks for the hand of the girl from her family; the wedding ceremony itself; and a formal visit by the new couple and the groom's family to the bride's family so that the bride may "ask leave" of her own ancestors. This would also be the time for the groom's family to deliver the bride-price, a custom largely dropped by educated people. Such "weddings by proposal" involve many expensive rituals and feasts, to which kin, neighbors, and banjar will contribute aid. A cheaper and very popular alternative is "elopement" (mamaling or nyogotin). A boy and a girl spend a night at a friend's house, a publicly known deed after which they must marry. The boy's family holds a wedding ceremony to which the girl's family are not invited, since the latter are obliged to appear angry even if they secretly consented to the match. Some time afterwards, bringing gifts, the boy's family pays a formal visit to the girl's family in hopes of reconciling her family to the union. After this, the girl's side can publicly accept the marriage.

As a proper cremation ceremony is extremely expensive, the family may take months or even years to accumulate the necessary funds, installing the body in a special pavilion or burying it temporarily in a cemetery. Many families wait until a high-caste family holds a cremation, in conjunction with which they can perform ceremonies for their own deceased at a much reduced cost. For the cremation itself, the body is placed in an ornate animal-shaped coffin installed in a portable tower, whose number of levels (roofs) reflects the status of the deceased (as many as 11 for royalty). Dozens of mourners carry the tower to the cremation field, rotating it at each crossroads so that the deceased's spirit cannot find its way back home to haunt the living. Under the supervision of a priest, the body, coffin, tower, and offerings are burned; the ashes are collected and with further ceremony cast into the sea. Only after all this has been done can the deceased become a deified ancestor.

One striking exception to the above pattern is the Bali Aga people of Trunyan: after mourning, the body is laid under a tree in a forest-cemetery and allowed to rot away.

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

Following the Hindu scriptures, Balinese society has been divided since the Majapahit period into four castes (which do not correspond to occupation in any straightforward way): Brahmana; Satria; Wesia; and Sudra. Comprising 15% of the Balinese, the first three (the Triwangsa) claim direct descent from transplanted Majapahit nobility, the privileged "insiders" of the pre-colonial kingdoms, while the Sudra majority were literally the "outsiders" (Jaba). However, a small minority, the Bali Aga or Bali Turunan, claiming to be the "original [pre-Majaphit] Balinese," have kept themselves apart in mountain villages. The position of the castes relative to each other has always been a matter of great dispute. Only under colonial rule have the Brahmana been able to assert a certain superiority, a status unconceded, for example, by a Sudra subcaste, the Pande (blacksmiths in origin), who take holy water from priests of their own subcaste.

Balinese society divides into a great variety of organizations; an individual belongs to several of these groups at once (their memberships never completely overlap). All these organizations have a leader and a set of written regulations (awig-awig or sima, passed down through the generations). Agriculture, house repair, rituals, emergencies, and other major tasks require the cooperation of members of these organizations (though nowadays, hiring workers is often cheaper than feeding helpers).

The banjar is a subvillage residential unit, which in the lowlands may include as many as 100 families or 500–600 people; it is led by a klian banjar, elected by the membership (though often from a hereditary line), who is responsible for arbitrating conflicts falling under the jurisdiction of customary law, as well as leading the banjar's religious activities. Eligible to join upon marriage, men may have to pay a fee for banjar membership; a man can expect aid from fellow members in staging his own family's rituals and feasts.

The subak is an association of individuals who depend on the same irrigation network (which does not match village or banjar boundaries). Subak join other subak in reliance upon one of several mountain-lake temples from which their water ultimately derives.

Sekaha are associations for specific purposes, temporary or permanent, e.g., music, dance, and theater ensembles, or separate clubs for young men and young women.

Traditional etiquette, now increasingly confined to ceremonial occasions, requires that people of higher status (including greater age) sit on a physically higher place and closer to the kaja direction and the east. For Brahmana priests and in ceremonies, the greeting is "Ohm Swastiastu," with a small bow and the palms put together at the chest (this is now being promoted as an equivalent to the Muslim "Assalamu alaikum"). In opening conversation with higher-status people, one also bows; but to children and lower-status people, one simply nods. One takes advice, instruction, or criticism with "nggih" (a deferential "yes") or with silence and without contradicting; one does everything possible to comply with a request or command. Adults correct children indirectly, e.g., a mother will tell her children that she herself will be scolded if the child misbehaves, or that misconduct is "low-caste" behavior. High-caste wives do not dare to correct older people; they either let them do as they will or appeal to another older third party, such as a mother-in-law. Self-deprecation (referring humbly to one's own person, property, or achievements) is essential to polite conversation.

Between adolescents of the opposite sex, only chatting at food stalls in the presence of others is acceptable. Balinese joke freely about sex but take great care to keep the genitals covered and to keep garments that have been in contact with them (especially those of menstruating women) in a place where they will not be above people's heads.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Inhabited by a group of brothers and their respective families, a residential compound (uma) is surrounded by a wall pierced by a narrow gate. Within it, grouped around a central courtyard, are separate pavilion-like buildings on the kelod side for cooking (one for each nuclear family), storing rice, and keeping pigs, and in the other directions ones for sleeping (on the kaja side for grandparents, parents, or the senior brother; on the east for guests; on the west for children). Each compound has a shrine (sanggah) in the kaja-east corner. A thatched pavilion (bale) serves for meetings and ceremonies, and a walled-in pavilion (bale daja) stores family heirlooms. Rivers serve for toilet and bathing functions. The compounds of banjar members cluster around a meeting pavilion (bale banjar), which nowadays often has a television and ping-pong tables.

Villages (desa) may be compact (in the mountains) or dispersed among fields and gardens (in the lowlands). Each village has three, usually separate, temples: the most kaja is the pura puseh, associated with the god Wisnu and the purified ancestors; at the center is the pura bale agung or pura desa, dedicated to Brahma; and most kelod is the pura dalem, associated with Siwa and the not-yet-purified dead.

Bali has a Human Development Index (combining measures of income, health, and education) of 69.8 (2005 score), slightly higher than Indonesia's national HDI of 69.6. The province's GDP per capita is US$10,033, relatively high for Indonesia (cf. US$9,784 for West Sumatra and US$8,360 for North Sulawesi, two regions with much higher HDIs, US$6,293 for Central Java, which has the same HDI, and US$6,151 for West Nusa Tenggara, which has among the lowest HDIs in the country). In 2000, the rate of infant mortality stood at 35.72 deaths per 1,000 live births, the lowest in the country after Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and North Sulawesi (by contrast, neighboring West Nusa Tenggara's infant mortality rate was 88.55, the highest in the country).

FAMILY LIFE

Marriage between members of different castes is now common, although before Indonesian independence a woman marrying a man of inferior caste would be banished with her spouse from their locality. Unions between a husband's sisters and a wife's brothers remain taboo. With some exceptions, a newlywed couple remains in the groom's compound; children belong to the clan or subclan of the compound where they live (either the father's or mother's as the case may be). Households include married sons and their families until they are able to establish their own households. At least one son must stay behind to care for the parents in their old age.

Clan organizations (warga) for the Triwangsa include branches scattered all over the island. The senior family (of most direct descent from the common ancestor) keeps the clan history and genealogy (babad).

CLOTHING

In work outside the home, especially for office and store jobs, Balinese wear Western-style clothes. Around the house, men wear shorts and a tank-top or, alternately, a sarong. Men's traditional clothing includes a kamben sarung (a tube sarong) of endek or batik cloth. In temples, a songket cloth (woven with gold- or silver-thread designs) is worn over the kamben; for rite-of-passage ceremonies, the kamben itself would be of songket. Men are very particular about how the kamben and the head cloth (udeng) required for formal occasions are tied. The lower edge of the kamben hangs longer in the front (held up while walking) and may be hitched up trouser-like for work in the fields.

Women wear a kamben lembaran (a nontube sarong), usually of mass-produced batik cloth, often with a sash (selempot) when outside the house; going about outside the house with breasts exposed has long been rare. When carrying things on the head (the usual method), women put a cloth between the load and the head. For temple ceremonies, women wear a sabuk belt wrapped around the body up to the armpits and put a kebaya jacket over this (but no kebaya or selempot for rite-of-passage ceremonies). As most women now wear their hair too short for traditional coiffures, they wear wigs to complete ritual dress.

FOOD

Balinese consume their ordinary meals individually, silently, quickly, and at no fixed times, snacking very frequently. Everyday food consists of rice and vegetable side dishes, sometimes with a bit of chicken, fish, tofu, or tempeh, and seasoned with chili sauce (sambel) made fresh daily. Many dishes require basa genep, a standard spice mixture (sea salt, pepper, chili, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, ginger, galangal, tamarind, candlenuts, sugar, coriander, and citrus).

For ceremonial feasts, much male labor goes into the making of ebat, chopped pig or turtle meat (including innards) mixed with spices, grated coconut, and lawar (slices of turtle cartilage or unripe mango). Other Balinese specialties are sate lembat (barbecue skewers consisting of ground meat rather than pieces of whole meat), babi guling (stuffed pig turned over a fire), and bebek betutu (stuffed duck wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in ashes).

EDUCATION

In 2005, the level of literacy stood at 86.22%, low by Indonesian national standards but comparable to provinces with high population densities and high numbers of poor, such as Central Java, East Java and South Sulawesi. (See also the article entitled Indonesians. )

CULTURAL HERITAGE

An essential part of religious ceremonies as well as entertainment (for Balinese and tourists), traditional performing arts are highly developed and vigorously pursued. A great range of musical ensembles exist, variants of the gamelan orchestra (drums, flutes, and bronze instruments or their substitutes of iron or bamboo). Examples are the gong gede, which plays slow, stately, and very old temple music; the delicate gamelan semar pegulingan accompanying court dances (also said to have once provided music for the palace bedchamber); and the dynamic gong kebyar, dating only from the beginning of the 20th century, also accompanying dance, theater, and rituals. A vast array of dances are performed, the most famous being the Baris dance, depicting drilling warriors; the Legong dance, depicting dueling princesses (sometimes girls in trance execute its intricate movements without previous instruction); and the Barong, in which a mythical lion, symbol of the good, combats the witch Rangda. Several dramatic genres are practiced: the wayang kulit shadow play (differing from the Javanese version in the form of the puppets and in the accompaniment by four gender instruments) and various forms of masked and unmasked theater (topeng, wayang wong, gambuh, and arja).

Balinese literature has been preserved incised on lontar, palm-leaf books. It divides into the epics of the gods and heroes of the previous world (in Kawi, Old Javanese) and tales of the old Balinese kingdoms (in Literary Balinese).

WORK

Some 70% of the Balinese earn a living from agriculture, which, where water is sufficient (as in the south), means wet-rice cultivation and elsewhere means nonirrigated crops, such as dry rice, maize, cassava, and beans. Sharecropping has become common in the most densely populated areas. Coconuts are grown along the coasts; fruits, such as citrus and salak (snakefruit), are grown for the off-island market. Pigs, ducks, and cattle are kept; fish are raised in flooded paddies as well as caught in the sea.

Many Balinese find employment in cottage and medium-scale industries. Since the 1970s, the garment industry has expanded dramatically; there are also factories for printing, canning, and coffee and cigarette processing. With a flood of foreign and domestic visitors every year, tourism provides work in hotels, travel bureaus, guide and taxi services, and craft shops, as well as money for performing and visual arts.

SPORTS

Although officially banned in 1981 as a venue for intense gambling, cockfights are still permitted as a necessary part of temple rituals (three rounds to appease demons). Cricket fighting continues as a milder substitute.

ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION

See the article entitled Indonesians.

FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES

Painting, stone carving, and woodcarving in traditional and modernist styles, puppet making, mat- and basket weaving, and gold- and silver working are the most prominent crafts, with much production now directed towards the tourist market.

The most popular locally made cloth is endek, a kind of ikat (tie-dyed weft and solid warp). Particularly precious is another kind of ikat, geringsing, whose complicated dyeing process takes months to complete.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

See the article entitled Indonesians.

GENDER ISSUES

Bali's Gender-Related Development Index (combining measures of women's health, education, and income relative to men's) is 61.2, significantly above Indonesia's national GDI of 59.2 and dramatically above that of both neighboring provinces, East Java (56.3) and West Nusa Tenggara (51.6, the second lowest in the country). The province's Gender Empowerment Measure (reflecting women's participation and power in political and economic life relative to men's), however, is among the lowest in the country, 45.6, compared to the national GEM of 54.6.

Although menstruating women are considered ritually impure and may not enter temples, discrimination against women is not pronounced. However, there is a clear division of labor: women buy and sell in the markets, cook, wash, care for the pigs, and prepare offerings; men work for the banjar, prepare spices and meat for feasts, play in orchestras, attend cockfights, and drink together in the early evenings. Women join the caste of their husbands; the wife of a Brahmana priest succeeds to his duties upon his death. Wives have control over their dowries and over their own and their husbands' earnings, have ownership of their clothing and jewelry and of family's small livestock (a form of capital, and a significant one, in itself), and in general manage family finances.

If a husband abuses his wife, is impotent, does not support his family, or takes a co-wife (madu) without his first wife's approval, she may return to her own family and, if she is able to convince a court of her husband's guilt, she gets custody of the children. Upon divorce a wife has rights to a share of assets jointly acquired with her husband. A wife who neglects her duties, commits adultery, or remains childless may be "thrown away" by her husband only if they had married by elopement. If they had married with familial consent or arrangement from the very beginning, it is much more difficult for him to do this, and he may go live with his lover while continuing to support his wife. In principle, inheritance goes only to men, but women can be classified as "males" for legal purposes and thus inherit (while their husbands become classified as legally "female").

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ayotrahaedi, et al. Tatakrama di Beberapa Daerah di Indonesia [Etiquette in Some Regions of Indonesia].Jakarta: Department of Education and Culture, 1989.

Badan Pusat Statistik: Statistik Indonesia. http://demografi.bps.go.id (November 9, 2008).

Eiseman, Fred B. Bali, Sekala and Niskala. Vol. 1, Essays on Religion, Ritual, and Art. Berkeley: Periplus, 1989.

———Bali, Sekala and Niskala. Vol. 2, Essays on Society, Tradition, and Craft. Berkeley: Periplus, 1990.

Hobart, Angela, Urs Ramseyer, and Albert Leeman. The People of Bali. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996.

Hobart, Mark. "Engendering Disquiet: On Kinship and Gender in Bali." In "Male" and "Female" in Developing Southeast Asia, edited by Wazir Jahan Karim. Oxford, UK: Berg, 1995.

Koentjaraningrat, ed., Manusia dan Kebudayaan di Indonesia [Man and Culture in Indonesia]. Jakarta: Djambatan, 1975.

LeBar, Frank M., ed. Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia. Vol 1, Indonesia, Andaman Islands, and Madagascar. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press, 1972.

Oey, Eric, ed. Bali: Island of the Gods. Berkeley: Periplus, 1990.

—revised by A. J. Abalahin

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Balinese." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Balinese." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/balinese-0

"Balinese." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Retrieved September 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/balinese-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.