History - Pre-history to the Europeans
The First Balinese
first wave of humans moved east out of Africa. About 1.8 million
years ago they are believed to have reached China. At that time
the levels of the sea rose and fell many times so they could have
made it by land to Java. Later it would have to have been a journey
domesticated rice about 8,000 years ago. Linguists and archaeologists
are widely agreed that the first Austronesian settlers sailed
south from southern China via Taiwan and the Philippines into
Indonesia between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, cultivating rice
as they went. They probably moved because of a population explosion.
There is genetic evidence as well. It had been thought possible
that the Polynesians could have come from America and not Asia
- as Thor Heyerdahl had suggested in the Kon-Tiki expedition -
but genetics has now shown this to be incorrect and that their
journey began in coastal China or Taiwan.
3000 BC and 400 AD, a period of nearly 4,000 years, they had colonized
most of the inhabitable islands of the Pacific from the Philippines
to Hawaii and Easter Island. They also settled on Malaya's coasts,
south Vietnam and even Madagascar off the east coast of Africa.
In these places, the Austronesian family of languages survives.
the Philippines, one group went east and another group went west.
The one moving west towards Indonesia spoke Malayo-Polynesian
languages, to which Balinese belongs. They had several religious
practices that resemble Bali's religion closely. Probably between
2,500 and 3,000 years ago they reached West Indonesia. Nothing
is known about the people who lived in Bali (and there would have
been some) before then.
these early seafarers kept moving because of population pressures.
Or maybe they were reacting to volcanoes, earthquakes, typhoons
or other natural disasters. The monsoon winds would have helped
them as long as they kept near the equator.
is archaeological evidence of habitation about 2,000 years ago
at two sites in Bali, one in Gilimanuk on the northwest coast
and the other in Sembiran in the north-centre. These indicate
a population of fishermen, hunters and farmers. Their graves show
they were in possession of copper, bronze and iron objects, which
must have been imported. The Balinese did not have the knowledge
to create them. In Gilimanuk archaeologists also found graves
for pets, including dogs, horses and chickens. In 1964 a grave
was discovered of a man with his dog.
The alternative story is that Rsi Markandeya, a great Siwaite
Hindu saint, was the first person to set foot on Bali, when it
was still joined to Java, around the end of the 8th century. He
and 8,000 of his followers came from Mount Raung in the Basuki
area of East Java to settle, but the gods were unhappy. They made
them sick. They went back and after receiving divine advice realised
that the reason for the gods' displeasure was that he did not
perform the correct rituals.
years later he returned, this time with fewer people, from the
village of Aga. They performed the ceremony of burying the Five
Metals (pancadatu) - gold, silver, iron, copper and precious stone
- at a place on the slopes of Mount Agung. This place is now called
Pura Basukian. The gods were happy and they settled in the areas
around Campuan, Taro, Tegalalang and Payangan and the present
temple area of Besakih.
these areas Markandeya and the settlers from Mount Raung are still
commemorated. The Gunung Lebah temple in Campuan, opposite Murni's
Warung, was founded by him. He is credited with establishing
the basic institutions of society, including the subaks (the irrigation
societies), desa (the village) and banjars (the community organisations).
On his travels a number of his followers remained behind in various
villages. Hence the current name of Bali Aga for those people
and villages that pre-date the later Hindu invasions.
northeast Vietnam, about 500 BC to 300 BC, around the Dong-Son
area in the North Annam region there was a flourishing metalworking
culture. Richly decorated gong-like drums, which were probably
imported by Indian traders, were first starting to appear at this
time. They were favourites amongst the Indonesians.
at least the first century AD Bali had acquired the skills to
cast or smelt copper, bronze and iron. It may be, although there
is a debate about it that the massive Pejeng kettledrum, called
the Pejeng Moon, was made in Bali. It is still in the imperial
temple, Pura Panataran Sasih, Pejeng, not far from Ubud. It is
housed three meters above the ground, so it is wise to bring binoculars.
The Balinese believe that it is heavily charged with power. There
are intense pairs of faces on the sides between the handles, which
are among the earliest representations of the human face in Indonesia.
It is called the Moon Drum because there are many stories about
its origin and all have to do with the moon.
story is that the drum was the wheel of the chariot of the goddess
of the moon. Others say that it was her earplug. It fell into
a tree. Its brilliance stopped a thief's nocturnal activities
and he decided to dim the light by urinating on it. The thief
died instantly and the Moon Drum cracked and lost its glow. Some
traditions say it is was not the wheel of the goddess's chariot
or her earplug but the moon itself. Others say that it is the
wheel of the chariot that carries the moon through the night sky.
it is and whoever made it, modern metallurgists are surprised
that ancient man could acquire such control over the temperatures
and the varying ratios of the alloy, which is copper, tin and
lead, to produce a perfect piece. Further, it is tonally correct
with India began in the first century AD. Indian ceramics of that
period have been found in Bali. The Indians were just interested
in trade, not conquest or migration.
Chinese were also trading with Indonesia by at least 400 AD. They
came as Buddhist monks, traders and emissaries of the Middle Kingdom.
Ships sailed back and forth between India, Indonesia and China.
The Chinese scholar, Yi-tsing, reported in 670 AD that he had
visited a Buddhist country called Bali.
Indians also introduced religions to Indonesia. By the 5th century
AD a Hindu kingdom had been founded. By the 600s one of the kings
of Sumatra was a Buddhist and the town of Palembang, a centre
of Chinese trade, was much influenced by Buddhists coming from
India and China. The kingdom of Srivijaya, around modern Palembang,
in fact became a major centre of Mahayana Buddhism, whose political
influence was felt all the way up the Malayan peninsula as far
as Thailand. Monks and priests travelled to Bali from the kingdom
were probably Buddhists in Java in the 5th century and certainly
by the 8th century AD. In Java the great Sailendra dynasty built
the largest Buddhist temple in the world, a great stepped, pyramid-shaped
mandala, Borobudur, on the outskirts of Jogjakarta in south Java,
some time between 750 and 850 AD.
Javanese kingdom of Mataram assumed regional power in the mid-9th
as the dominance of Buddhism throughout the eastern half of Asia
seemed inevitable, Islam attacked successfully. It moved into
the Malay Peninsula and then captured most of the Indonesian islands,
but not Bali. In east Java an early Islamic tombstone carved in
about 1082 has been found. Islam swept through the southern part
of the Philippines.
Early Balinese Kings
earliest evidence of kingship is from seven bronze edicts in Old
Balinese from 882 - 914 AD. They are dated according to the Indian
Saka calendar, which shows Indian influence. It is likely that
the local rulers were impressed by stories of the Indian rajas
and, wanting to strengthen their own control, asked for advice
from the Brahman priests. The rituals of these powerful priests
would supernaturally legitimise an increase in the ruler's power.
The princes tried to associate themselves with Indian culture
as much as possible and created family trees with roots in Indian
culture. They claimed to be temporary incarnations of the Hindu
link between divinity and kingship is not only a Balinese concept.
King Solomon was anointed by Zadok the Priest. Anointing is reserved
for priests, prophets and kings and forms the central part of
the coronation ceremony of the English monarch.
earliest ruler is Kesari Warmadewa, three of whose inscriptions
have been found. He ruled around 913. This is probably the same
man as Sri Wira Dalem Kesari, who is said to have built a palace
at Besakih, the present day Merajan Selonding being his place
of worship. He is said to have enlarged Pura Panataran Agung,
which was then a small and simple temple, as well as building
some other Besakih temples.
subsequent bronze edicts, from 915 - 942 AD, show the kings using
finds suggest that the capital was in the region of Intaran/Pejeng
and Bedulu. This would connect the region with the mountain temples,
particularly Penulisan near Kintamani. The kings built monastic
settlements to reinforce their claims to power and Buddhist and
Siwaist priests and monks lived there. There were some monastic
settlements in the Lake Batur region, which was also a royal hunting
was a feudal system. The king and the court offered protection
and mediated in village disputes. In return the villagers provided
services, maintained temples, carried out rituals and ceremonies.
They paid taxes and on request provided the king with armed guards.
Communications between the king and the commoners were through
the village council.
are references to weavers, iron and goldsmiths, irrigation tunnel
builders, carpenters, masons, shipbuilders, musicians, singers
and dancers. These specialisations suggest a healthy surplus-producing
economy, which would have been based on wet and dry rice cultivation.
Vegetables, cotton and kapok were grown and horses, cattle, goats
and pigs were bred.
with East Java
Java-inspired marriage of the great-granddaughter of the king
of East Java to the Balinese prince Udayana brought about a Javanization
of the Balinese court. Her name, Gunapriya Dharmapatni comes before
that of her husband in documents. This may be because she had
a higher status than him and may have been more powerful. After
989 AD royal decrees were written in Old Javanese. It is thought
that she introduced Tantric rites and sorcery to Bali, beliefs
which are still evident in witches and witchcraft. Goa Gajah,
the Elephant Cave, near Bedulu, not far from Ubud, was built around
this time, as a rock hermitage for Siwaite priests.
Queen probably died first. Their last joint edict was issued in
1001. Udayana issued his last decree in 1010, ceased to rule in
1011, and died sometime between then and 1022. Their two sons,
Erlangga (sometimes spelt Airlangga) and Anak Wungsu inherited
the right to rule. Airlangga was sent to Java and worked for his
grandfather in East Java. He succeeded in uniting East Java, ruling
it from 1037 to 1049, while his younger brother ruled Bali, perhaps
in his name. Bali was therefore one of Erlangga's domains and
started a link with Java.
developed a deep interest in a mystical, inner religious life
and became a hermit. Tradition has it that he had the body of
a king and the head of a Hindu mystic.
massive, stupa-shaped royal tombs, called Gunung Kawi, near Tampaksiring,
completed around 1080 AD, are evidence of royal funeral cults
and strong Javanization. They are a short trip from Ubud and are
reached by walking down 300 steps.
was conquered for the first time in 1284. It became subject to
foreign rule by the East Javanese king, Kertanegara, the founder
of the Majapahit dynasty. Religion was brought back to and centred
in the court. The influence of the mountain temples waned.
were strong Tantric elements again. Black magic and sorcery returned.
These concepts are still evident in today's trance cults, occult
practices and beliefs in witches and goblins, which are especially
dominant in the south and south-western parts of Bali, and particularly
in Sanur, Kesiman, Tabanan and Gianyar, where the court had the
is independent again
was murdered in 1292 and Bali was independent again for another
carves Bali up
the Balinese, history really begins with the Majapahits and with
a myth. The myth is that in 1343 the great Majapahit kingdom of
East Java, then at the height of its powers, sent armies to Bali
to defeat the king of Bali, who was a supernatural monster with
a pig's head, who lived near Pejeng. The Balinese therefore see
themselves as the descendants of the great Majapahits - with the
exception of a few pockets of aboriginal Bali Aga people.
nationalists claim that the Majapahit Empire stretched over what
is now modern Indonesia as well as the Malay peninsula. The actual
area was probably only Java and some nearby coastal regions, with
a nominal tribute being paid by other coastal states.
the conquest the prime minister and commander-in-chief, Gajah
Mada, asked a Javanese Brahman priest for help in bringing the
Balinese into line. The priest sent his grandson, Ida Dalem Ketut
Kresna Kapakisan, who established his court and palace at Samprangan,
just east of Gianyar, around 1349. He founded a dynasty that would
last until the 20th century. He was born a Brahman, but had to
change his status to a Satria, in order to rule. It is noteworthy
that caste can be changed. He had the full support of Javanese
administrators, who were located strategically throughout the
subdued most of Bali but there were a few areas that were difficult.
He asked Gajah Mada for help. He sent his powerful, magical kris,
Ki Lobar, and at the sight of it, the last two areas of opposition,
Pejeng and Bedulu, were defeated.
leading local clans, the Paseks and the Bandesas, who traced their
origins to Javanese high priests, collaborated with Kapakisan.
They were given special tasks in respect of the temple system
and village order. King Airlangga and Empu Kuturan had already
entrusted these clans with leadership. (For details on Empu Kuturan
see the article entitled
Famous Balinese Temples). The Paseks are still influential
Dalem Ketut Kresna Kapakisan died, his eldest son became the king,
but he was weak and was replaced by his younger brother, I Dewa
Ketut Tegal Besung, who moved the court to Gelgel, near Klungkung,
on the southeast coast in 1383 and founded the Gelgel dynasty.
Gelgel became an artistic centre.
died in 1460 and was succeeded by his son, Waturenggong, and the
Golden Majapahit Age
in Java, in the late 15th century, disputes sparked off civil
wars and the Majapahit Empire was declining. Islam had entered
through Sumatra in the 13th century and at the beginning of the
16th century was making headway in the coasts of Java. They pressed
inland and dealt the Empire a fatal blow between 1515 and 1528.
The aristocracy, priests, jurists, artists, artisans and those
unwilling to be islamised moved to the easternmost parts of Java
and Bali. The descendants of the former vassal Balinese kings
stayed in power and eased the process.
who were engaged in the same crafts lived together in certain
villages. Their descendants still do today. Goldsmiths and silversmiths
lived in Celuk, painters and draughtsmen in Kamasan, ironsmiths
in Klungkung and Kusamba, coppersmiths in Budaga and gong smiths
Waturenggong succeeded in integrating the aristocracy and the
people. The empire extended beyond Bali to include parts of East
Java, Lombok and Sumbawa and there was peace and prosperity.
worship also changed. Although he was still believed to be the
incarnation of Wisnu, people no longer actually worshipped him.
Nevertheless he was directly associated with the divine. As far
as religion went, there was emphasis on complex classification
systems and numerological and colour symbolism. See the
article entitled Balinese Symbolism.
kept close contact with ordinary people, travelled and mounted
theatrical performances. Painting, literature, music and drama
were promoted as useful propaganda for royal policy. During his
reign, cremation, which was a privilege of the nobility, began
to be practised by all strata. The Pasek and Bandesa clan members
continued to be entrusted with temple properties and leadership
caste and religion were reformed under King Waturenggong's priestly
teacher and poet, Nirartha, who came from East Bali in 1537. He
travelled throughout Bali and went to Lombok and Sumbawa and established
many temples. He concentrated on rituals connected with death,
soul purification, weddings, pregnancy, birth and maturity and
is responsible for the supremacy of the Siwa cult and the Brahman
priests. Nirartha is regarded as the father of all Brahmans. There
are five classifications of Brahmans, based on the descendants
of his sons by five wives. See the article
entitled Names, Titles and Castes.
King Waturenggong's death around 1558, the Golden Age went into
rapid decline. There were tremendous rivalries, much scheming
and inevitable decay. This state of affairs continued for about
100 years until eventually a new king, Dewa Agung Jambe came to
seemed to have lost its power and was polluted spiritually, so
the capital was moved to neighbouring Klungkung. The Gelgel period
is therefore roughly 1400 - 1700 and the time of its dissolution
was about the same time that the Dutch were becoming solidly established
in the rest of the country.
Agung Jambe became the first king of Klungkung in 1686 and was
known as Dewa Agung, a title inherited since then by all kings
of Klungkung. For the next 200 years the Dewa Agung was the nominal,
supreme king of Bali.
were withdrawn from Gelgel and a number of tiny autonomous states
grew up, ruled by powerful aristocrats, who claimed to be descendants
of the nobles who accompanied Kapakisan from Java in 1343. They
ruled as kings or princes. In the end Bali became nine small kingdoms:
Karangasem, Badung, Mengwi, Gianyar, Tabanan, Buleleng, Bangli,
Negara and Klungkung. (These names still exist as distinct administrations
called kabupaten. Their chief executives are called bupatis).
Yet they all regarded Klungkung as the highest royal authority.
There was great rivalry between them, which was good for the arts
and created great artistic endeavours - and still does.
Klungkung is the direct heir of Gelgel and Samprangan and through
them the Majapahits.
is a story about the origins of the Ubud Royal family. 150 years
ago there was there was no Royal family in Ubud, which was then
just a village of a few hundred people. The villagers needed the
protection of a prince and went to ask the prince of nearby Peliatan
for one of his sons to become the prince of Ubud. The king had
four sons, but they were not available, as one was in Peliatan
and the others were princes of Mas, Petulu and Batuan. But he
did have an illegitimate son from a palace servant girl.
men of Ubud found the illegitimate prince living near Mount Batur
in humble circumstances and brought him back to Ubud. They gave
him a house and called him Tjokorda Beten Buah or The Prince who
lived under a Betel Nut tree, as that was where they found him
living. The new Tjokorda sent one of his ministers out to ask
his half-brother in Batuan for some rice. The half-brother was
incensed and a war began. Ubud won and took the prince of Batuan's
land and everything from the palace. It is said that one of the
wooden kulkuls in the village banyan tree comes from Batuan. North
Ubud banjar beats it if there is a death in the community.
is usually said that the Bali Aga people are those who were living
in Bali before the Majapahits arrived from Java, although there
is no evidence for this. They were subject to Buddhist and later
Hindu influence. The Majapahits were not able to assert their
authority on all parts of the island, because of limited resources
and it was more profitable to concentrate of the rich low-lying
areas. The Bali Aga villages tend therefore to be in the mountains
on the northern and eastern coasts, such as Trunyan, near Mount
Batur, and Tenganan, near Candi Dasa, and the island of Penida.
comprise about one or two per cent. of the population and still
display marked differences from the rest of Bali, for example,
there is no caste system, they do not speak High Balinese, and
they do not cremate their dead.