Balinese History – the Europeans
Spices launched the Age of Exploration and drove the European explorers to the Spice Islands of Eastern Indonesia in the 16th century. This led to the great Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and British Empires of the East. Which spices and why were they so important?
The spices were nutmeg, cloves, mace, pepper and cinnamon. The reason: their fragrance. For centuries they had been used to mask and disguise the smell of decomposing food in an age when there were no fridges. Nutmeg slowed down the process of rotting. Spices were also useful in adding flavour to food – and drink – they were added to beer. Nutmeg was also a perfume, a cure for bad breath, an embalming ingredient, a relief for sore teeth and an aphrodisiac.
But it was the physicians of Elizabethan London that provided the economic impetus to make it worthwhile risking lives and fortunes. Always expensive, the price of nutmeg rocketed overnight when they claimed it cured the plague, which was sweeping London’s streets.
For centuries numerous middlemen had sewn up the trade. The Europeans wanted to go straight to the source, the Moluccas, the Spice Islands, to the northeast of Bali, and cut out the middlemen, the Arabs, Malays and Chinese, who monopolised the market. The supply to Europe started in the fabled Spice Islands, thence to the Persian Gulf, overland to the Mediterranean, from Alexandria to Constantinople (now Istanbul) and then by Venetian ships to Venice.
No one knew where the spices came from. Marco Polo, the Venetian, returned from his travels between 1271 and 1295 in China and claimed he saw a nutmeg tree in China, but that cannot have been true. It may be true that Marco Polo gave Java its name. He thought that Java and Australia were connected and called them Java Major and Java Minor. These names appear for the first time on a map made by Francesco Rossellini between 1492 and 1493, but this time Java Major refers to Java and Java Minor to Sumatra.
The Spice Race
It took another 200 years from Marco Polo’s times before a European reached the Spice Islands. It was totally perilous. Ships had never sailed to the Indian Ocean. Maps were non-existent. The Spice Islands could have been in Outer Space. Unknown to the spice merchants and Marco Polo, the nutmeg tree only grew in the Banda Islands. It took over two years’ sailing to get there and back and most of the crews died of scurvy, typhoid or dysentery. The seas were also dangerous and pirates abounded.
Portugal, Spain, England and later Holland competed to get to the source of spices, silks and gems. It is not surprising: the profit was immense. In the Banda Islands, ten pounds of nutmeg cost less than one English penny. In London it sold for more than £2.10s – a profit of 60,000 per cent. It was like petroleum nowadays.
Trade within Asia was good also. Curiously the Portuguese in India, who mostly lived in Cochin and Goa, made more profits trading within Asia than from trading back home. One of their successes was bringing Indian cotton and calico to the Indonesian islands and returning with spices and aromatic woods to India. Hindu funerals benefited from aromatic sandalwood grown on the Indonesian island of Timor.
Key dates in the European spice race are:
1492: Christopher Colombus sailed west from Spain in search of China in the east – he knew that the world was round (that had been known since the Greeks), but believed that the oceans of the world occupied less than one-seventh of the surface of the globe. Arriving at an island in the West Indies on 12 October 1492, he thought that it was India. He returned to Spain in March 1493, and sailed another two times.
1498: Vasco da Gama was the first to sail around Africa to reach the west coast of India. He left Lisbon with three ships and a crew of 170 and returned 26 months later with only half the crew.
1501: the Treaty of Tordesillas, based on a papal bull of Pope Alexander VI, drew a line down the middle of the Atlantic and awarded everything to the west to Spain and everything to the east to Portugal; so this placed the Spice Islands in Portugal’s sphere, but this was not known until much later.
1511: Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca on the west coast of modern Malaysia for the Portuguese, who now commanded the western approach to the Moluccas.
1511: Portuguese Antonio de Abreu reached the Spice Islands and became the first European to set foot on the Banda Islands and brought back a full lading of spices. Ferdinand Magellan was aboard. Magellan was later sacked by the king of Portugal and renounced Portuguese citizenship and began to sail under the Spanish flag.
1521: Magellan believed it was quicker to sail west. He sailed from the tip of South America, landed in the Philippines and was killed in a local power struggle, but his ship continued to Ternate in the Moluccas and brought back cloves to Spain.
1529: King Charles of Spain gave up her claim to the Spice Islands in return for a massive payment by Portugal of 350,000 gold ducats.
1577: English explorer Sir Francis Drake, in the Golden Hind, and four other ships, sailed west and reached Ternate in the Spice Islands and was supposedly the first European to set foot in Bali in 1579.
1580: the Portuguese tried to establish a trading station in Bali but gave up after their ship was wrecked near Bukit in the south.
1595: the Dutch despatched their first fleet under the unruly Cornelis de Houtman. De Houtman landed on Bali in 1597. They did not reach the Banda Islands, but the Dutch merchants were undeterred.
1600: the charter setting up the English East India Company was signed by Queen Elizabeth giving it massive powers and the exclusive right to trade in the East Indies – a vague term including all Southeast Asia – without any Crown interference.
1602: the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) was formed by a consortium of small independent trading companies and given a Government charter with a monopoly over the spice trade for 21 years, and the right to occupy territories and wage war on indigenous people. It was initially based at Banten on the west of Java and became the world’s first multinational company issuing shares on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, which was the world’s first stock market.
1606: by this point England had despatched 3 fleets comprising 10 vessels and lost one in three, 1,200 men had sailed, 800 had died of scurvy, typhoid or dysentery, only one ship reached the Banda Islands; the Dutch had despatched 14 fleets comprising 65 ships and had ousted the Portuguese from nearly all their “spiceries”.
1609: the Dutch acquired their first territory in the East Indies with the signing of a peace treaty placing Neira Island, one of the Banda Islands, under Dutch dominion for ever.
1619: the Dutch seized Yacatra, on the northeast coast of Java, renaming it Batavia, after an early Germanic tribe called the Batawi, and used it to trade with other islands and abroad, as well as to counter its rivals in Portuguese Malacca (which the Dutch captured in 1641).
1622: the Dutch massacre nearly everyone on the island of Banda.
1657: the English East India Company was finally bankrupt and gave up all hope of a presence in the East. Numerous English ships had been sunk in the spice race and hundreds, possibly, thousands, had died. The Company was in fact saved by Oliver Cromwell, but the focus shifted to India.
1667: the Treaty of Breda, to settle the Anglo-Dutch war, signed away England’s claim to the small island of Run in the Bandas in return for New Amsterdam, which England had recently captured, and which was renamed New York, perhaps not a bad trade-off.
1699: the Dutch had gained total control of the spice trade, which lasted for the next 200 years.
1750: by this date the Dutch controlled all the Indies except Bali and Lombok.
1799: the VOC’s charter expired. It had relied on monopolies and coercion and its fortunes had declined through corruption, mismanagement, piracy and changing patterns of trade. The charter was not renewed.
Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton is an excellent book on the European rivalries to gain control of the spice trade.
During this time Europeans visited Bali but it did not greatly interest them.
Cornelis de Houtnan from Holland visited Bali in 1597 and from that moment Bali was on the map. He was so impressed by the beauty of the island that he wanted to call it Jonck Hollandt – Young Holland. His reports and engravings captivated the public (although the one that most caught the popular imagination was of widow-burning of Indian origin!). The Europeans were especially intrigued by the fact that two of de Houtman’s sailors refused to return to Holland. It is always said that the reason for their wanting to stay was the beauty of the Balinese women. They settled in Gelgel.
Initially the main interest was the slaves. The Dutch East India Company, based in Java, had a great demand for slaves. There was a shortage of workers in agriculture and the crafts. They also needed servants for their households in Batavia, their outposts in the rest of the archipelago and their other colonial possessions, especially Cape Town. Contracts for slaves were made with the Balinese rulers. Balinese slaves had a good reputation for ferocity. It was profitable. From the end of the 18th century the Chinese controlled the Asian slave trade.
One reason the Dutch left Bali alone for so much of their 300 years of colonisation of the Dutch East Indies was that Bali had no good, natural, protected harbours and the coral reefs around the coasts caused shipwrecks. The seas were rough too. Bali also lacked useful resources.
As a result there was commercial isolation. A good indication of this is the number of Chinese residents in Bali as compared to the rest of Indonesia. Even in 1920, after the Dutch were in control of the whole island, there were only 7,000 Chinese (4 per cent. of Bali’s population), whereas there were 1.65 per cent. over all Indonesia.
The British had long regarded Bali as a possible base, but did not pursue their designs for the same reasons as the Dutch.
Bali’s chief export was slaves. In the 17th century about 2,000 were exported each year.
Slaves were a luxury commodity for those living in Batavia, but those that could afford them had hundreds. In fact, the city’s population was dominated by slaves. In 1673 there were 13,278 slaves out of a total population of 32,068 (about half of which were Balinese). By 1778 there were said to be 13,000 Balinese slaves in Batavia. In 1815 there were 14,249 slaves out of a total population of 47,217.
The slaves were often kidnapped or tricked by Balinese rajas and district heads. They gained the most, but it was usually a Chinese who clinched the deal at the end. The slaves endured horrendous conditions in cramped ships before arriving at Batavia to be sold at market. Those that could not be sold were auctioned. The Dutch preferred their slaves to be non-Javanese as they were less likely to rebel. Slaves from Sulawesi were the highest in number, followed by Bali.
When Batavia was being developed, slaves were used for heavy labour. By the early 19th century, however, they were used mainly for domestic labour. Often they had specialised tasks, such as making the tea, ironing or preparing chilli condiments. Some were trained musicians used to entertain visitors.
Most had a hard time and the mortality rate was high. Every wealthy home had cells to incarcerate disobedient slaves. Sometimes there were revolts. Some ran away. The most famous was a Balinese called Surapati, who founded his own kingdom in East Java in the late 17th century. The female ones were often victims of sexual abuse.
There were love affairs between European women and their male slaves. There was a law that required female slaves to be freed if they bore their master’s child. Slaves were sold when their master died. If the master willed it, the fortunate were freed.
The need for slaves declined by the middle of the 19th century as cheap labour became available and the trade was abolished in 1859. European perceptions of Bali for many years, however, rested on the slave trade.
The English Interregnum, 1811 – 16
The Napoleonic wars led to a renewal of British interest in Bali. When the French occupied Holland, the British took control of Java on behalf of the Dutch government in exile in London. From 1811 to 1816 Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826) administered the Dutch possessions as the Lieutenant Governor-General in Batavia. He was one of the founders of Britain’s empire in East Asia. Beginning his career in 1795 as a clerk in the British East India Company, he was sent to Penang in Malaya in 1805 as assistant secretary. He had a good knowledge of the Malay language and customs.
Raffles had a great respect for the local people. He was also a follower of Adam Smith and free trade and believed that the old feudal structure was an impediment to progress. He reorganized the administration, launched reforms in taxation and granted security of land tenure. He introduced coffee and sugar to Sumatra and established schools. England passed the anti-slave trade law in 1807. Raffles halted the slave trade in Indonesia, but when the Dutch returned, the sale of slaves resumed and the lucrative business continued until 1859, and probably illegally thereafter.
Raffles studied and admired Bali’s civilisation, including Balinese Hinduism. In his History of Java, which was published in 1817, after he returned to England, he wrote:
“On Java we find Hinduism only amid the ruins of temples, images and inscriptions; on Bali, in the laws, ideas, and worship of the people. On Java this singular and interesting system of religion is classed among the antiquities of the island. Here it is a living source of action, and a universal rule of conduct. The present state of Bali may be considered, therefore, as a kind of commentary on the ancient condition of the natives of Java.”
He therefore saw Bali as “a kind of commentary on the ancient condition … of Java”. It represented a continuation of the lost achievements of Java. Bali was a living museum. This was not an accurate view, and the stress should firmly be on “a kind of”.
He was knighted in 1817. In 1819 Raffles secured the transfer of Singapore to the East India Company and initiated policies that contributed greatly to Singapore’s vital role in the lucrative China trade. He had a great zeal in collecting historical and scientific information, including a number of unique Balinese artifacts, which are now at the British Museum. On his return to England, he played the chief role in founding the Zoological Society of London and was its first president.
The Dutch are back
After the fall of Napoleon, and the end of the French occupation of Holland the British and Dutch signed a convention in London on 13 August 1814, in which it was agreed that Dutch colonial possessions dating from 1803 onwards should be returned to the Dutch Administration in Batavia.
The Dutch saw things very differently from Raffles. To them the Balinese were not carrying on ancient achievements; they were barbarians. The Dutch were influenced in their view by the slave trade. The Dutch also believed in monopolies and wanted to, and did, force the local people to trade on their terms. They did not support notions of free trade, like Raffles and Adam Smith.
Missionaries arrived at this time but they did not make much headway. As a result they reported negatively on the Balinese. Missionary activity was prohibited in Bali at the end of the 19th century after a Dutch missionary was murdered by his predecessor’s only Balinese convert. For this and other reasons, the Balinese were generally getting a bad press.
After trade in slaves ended, the traders turned their attention to exporting rice, tobacco, coffee and sugar. Most profitable, however, was opium, imported from Calcutta and Singapore.
Mads Lange and Kuta
Mads Johansen Lange, a Dane, known locally as the White Rajah of Bali, was a very influential figure in the history of Kuta and Bali. He was born in Ruboking on Langeland Island on 16 September 1806. Lange and his two younger brothers left Denmark in 1833 for Hong Kong. Later they joined Captain Burd and established a company called Burd & Burd.
From Hong Kong they sailed to Lombok, but the market was already dominated by an Englishman. So they set up in Kuta in 1839 and traded on a large scale. Lange was a merchant, mediator, adventurer and sailor. He was also a broker in the slave trade. At that time Kuta on the south coast of Bali rivalled Singaraja on the north. Local kings and princes welcomed Lange. He was not Dutch or English, whom they disliked.
He performed a useful role mediating between the Dutch and the Balinese. It was also a profitable occupation. He settled a dispute between the Dutch and the King of Badung. In return King Kesiman appointed him the district official (perbekel) for Kuta, which gave him authority to tax sailing vessels, which taxes were as high as those in the harbours of Europe.
He monopolised the sale of Chinese coins, which became the dominant currency in Bali. Bronze, they have a hole in the centre and are bundled together and put on strings. They are still used in this fashion for Balinese ceremonies, each string having 200 coins nominally. In fact, it is unlucky to use exactly 200, so each string has a few less. Lange bought the coins in China and sold them in Bali for 100 per cent. profit. Sometimes he traded them for rice.
He also bought silk and opium from China and textiles and weapons from India. In addition he had two slaughterhouses, which supplied dried beef to the Dutch garrisons in Java.
There is no surviving picture of him. He lived with two wives, concubines, children, servants and slaves in a large house in Kuta. He also had a Danish male dalmation, which mated with a local dog, and may have been responsible for the current breed of Balinese dalmations. His business was hit hard by the Dutch navy blockade of Bali in 1850. This was followed by a plague of rats, which disrupted the rice harvest, an epidemic of smallpox and a water shortage. Lange was planning to go home when he died mysteriously at home in 1856. He was 49. Historians believe that he was poisoned.
Peter Christian, his nephew, inherited the business, but failed to make a profit, sold and returned to Denmark. Lange was buried in Kuta. His tomb is now in a forgotten graveyard in a road named after him, Jalan Tuan Langa.
Kuta declined after Lange’s death and did not revive for another 100 years when the hippies discovered Bali.
The spirit of trade, however, had been engendered in south Bali and by the end of the century many people, including local Balinese, were selling opium and cloth, weaving and growing cotton.
British trade with Bali increased rapidly in the 1820s and 1830s. England, Holland and France all came to see the strategic importance of Bali’s location on one of the world’s most important shipping routes. The Dutch were concerned that the British would possibly annex Bali. They convinced themselves that they had to make a pre-emptive strike and conquer the island.
It took the Dutch three invasions before they could beat the Balinese and then it was only in the north of the island. The first expedition, the largest military expedition yet launched in the East Indies, was in 1846, the pretext being that a stranded Dutch ship had been plundered; the second was in 1848, but it was the third in 1849, when 12,000 men were shipped over, that the Dutch were finally successful. This gave them control over the kingdom of Buleleng in the north, although at a heavy cost. A contemporary account described the Balinese as the most formidable military opponents that the Dutch had met in the region.
That was followed shortly by the fall of the kingdom of Karagasem. A peace treaty was then entered into with the ruler of Klungkung, whom the Dutch regarded as the emperor of Bali.
The Balinese kings remained in power, but had to recognise Dutch sovereignty and promise not to enter into agreements with other “white men”. Dutch control was perhaps more theoretical than real, and only extended to the west and northern half of the island. (It took another 50 years for the Dutch to control the whole island). This meant that the northern part of the island was more influenced by foreign influence than the south. Now, with tourists more prevalent in the south, the reverse is the case.
In 1891 the kingdoms of Tabanan and Badung, who had allied against him, defeated the king of Mengwi. The seven main kingdoms of South Bali, Tabanan, Gianyar, Klungkung, Karangasem, Bangli and Mengwi, were now six.
The Dutch conquered neighbouring Lombok in 1894. The kingdom of Karangasem in East Bali had conquered Lombok in the 18th century. When Lombok was invaded by the Dutch and the princes of Karangasem fell, the kingdom of Karangasem passed into Dutch control. Then they turned their attention to the rest of Bali.
The king of Gianyar turned to the Dutch in 1900 as a protective measure against his Balinese rivals. The king of Bangli did the same. They both signed treaties acknowledging Dutch sovereignty. That left three kingdoms: Badung, Tabanan and Klungkung.
The Dutch had an opportunity to confront the king of Badung in 1906 – in fact kings of Badung, as there were two. A Chinese ship, coming from Borneo, was wrecked on the reef near Sanur on the south coast. There was a dispute over Balinese plundering of the beached ship. According to Balinese tradition the villagers were entitled to shipwrecked goods, but this was against Dutch law. The Chinese owner demanded compensation from the Dutch Government, who in turn passed the buck to the King of Badung, who repudiated any responsibility. (It has subsequently been shown that the beaching was a deliberate attempt to claim fraudulent compensation).
The Dutch sent five warships, dropped anchor at Sanur. The ship’s artillery fired for days on Badung, today’s Denpasar, which is six kilometers away from Sanur, and left it in ruins. Then 3,000 troops, with cannons, marched into the capital on 20 September 1906. They were faced by men, women and children, the entire royal court, dressed in ceremonial dress, armed only with their ceremonial lances and krises, the Balinese ceremonial daggers. They streamed out of the two palaces and hurled jewels at the Dutch soldiers a hundred paces away. The King ordered that his palace be burnt down so that the Dutch would gain nothing.
The king was at the head of the procession, carried in a palanquin. At about 100 meters from the amazed Dutch the procession stopped. The King gave a pre-arranged signal to a priest, who immediately stabbed him with a kris, right through the heart. Immediately there was a frenzy of killing. The ladies of the court were fired upon and their bodies, covered in blood, fell in piles. Others turned their daggers on themselves or upon one another. Dutch cannons, guns and bayonets mowed the rest down.
It has been estimated that no less than 3,600 Balinese died in the Badung puputans. Dutch casualties are unknown, but would have been very slight. The massacres killed men, women and children. In all only a few wounded women survived.
This was a mass ritual suicide. Puputan means “ending” and was the traditional sign of the end of a kingdom. There were war correspondents from the major Dutch papers on the scene and the tragedy attracted worldwide attention. Vicki Baum, author of Grand Hotel, who came to Bali in the 1930s, wrote a novel about the 1906 puputan, A Tale from Bali, the finest novel inspired by Bali so far.
A few weeks later the Dutch marched on the king of Tabanan in the west. The king went to treat with the Dutch and was taken prisoner. The Dutch demanded unconditional surrender and that night he cut his throat. The crown prince, who was with him, took poison. That only left Klungkung.
The king of Klungkung held out against the Dutch until they intervened militarily. On 28 April 1908 they blasted the largest, oldest and most sacred Balinese palace to rubble. That led to a mass ritual suicide by thousands of the king’s followers, including women and children, as they marched out of the palace in formal Balinese dress straight into Dutch fire.
The Theatre State
Ceremonial ritual suicide is rather hard for us to understand, but ceremonial rituals were what 19th century state politics in Bali was all about. It was what the state was for. According to the pioneering anthropologist, Clifford Geertz, in his book Negara it should reflect the supernatural order, the world of the gods. The royal court was the exemplary centre. The king was a divine object. Men should strive to pattern their lives on divine order. The closer they were to divinity, the greater the obligation to put on a good show.
To put on these monumental pageants, hundreds of people were required. The royals and indeed everyone needed the help of others. Political power was measured in terms of manpower. Struggles between kingdoms were seldom about borders. They were struggles to obtain the loyalty of people. The better the ritual, the closer they were to the gods, and the easier it was for the lords to attract followers. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy as long as they could keep their supporters, the ordinary people, on board.
It seems that in pre-colonial Bali power pulled in towards the centre. The right to rule was surrendered from the subject to the lordling, lordling to lord, and lord to king, rather than the other way around. The king did not delegate power down the line.
The Hindu-Buddhist idea of a mandala is useful as a way of looking at the pre-modern state. A mandala is a circular figure symbolizing the perceived universe. There are no clearly recognisable borders. There is an organised community only at the centre. At the edges the state faded into an area of vague political control until finally it merged with that of competing powers. At the centre of the mandala was the king.
The theatre state is not dead. On 3 October 1977 a royal wedding in Gianyar lasted four days. More than 15,000 people attended and it cost several hundred thousand dollars. In 1979 a royal cremation in Ubud drew 100,000 people. 3,000 were tourists, who paid US $25 each for good seats. The cremation tower was 63 feet high.
Direct and indirect colonial rule
So, the position was that five of Bali’s kingdoms came under Dutch control only after military resistance. These were Buleleng, Jembrana, Badung, Tabanan and Klungkung. Many of the rajas died in the process. The families were exiled to Lombok, Java, Madura and Sumatra. Their lands were confiscated. Their territories and people were brought under direct colonial control.
Three kingdoms came under indirect Dutch control at the turn of the century. These were Bangli, Gianyar and Karangasem. The royal families kept their wealth and much of their royal status and their kingdoms were in practice governed as indirect-ruled territories.
This split was reflected in the willingness of the various kingdoms to support Dutch rule during the National Revolution immediately following the Second World War. The indirect-ruled kingdoms, which were dependent on the backing of the colonial state, supported a resumption of Dutch power.
The Dutch kept a low profile – even in the direct-ruled territories. There were never more than a few hundred Dutch officials in Bali. Colonialism was practically invisible to most Balinese.
Following the exposé of Dutch oppression, brutality and disenfranchisement, the Dutch suffered a nationwide crisis of conscience. The government of Holland imposed on the colonial administration a new policy known as the “ethical policy” in the early years of the 20th century. A number of the local elite were educated in Dutch high schools and hundreds of para-medics were trained.
Education introduced a significant number of locals to Western political philosophy, and anti-colonial and revolutionary literature, which were in Dutch. This led to Indonesia’s first anti-colonial movement. Their aim was nationhood. In 1928 youth groups swore an oath to uphold “One Nation, One People, One Language”.
The Balinese kings lost their real power and with it, their ability to be patrons of the arts The Dutch decided on a new course for Bali. To atone, they pursued the idea of promoting Bali as a living museum, Raffles’ old idea, and determined to foster Balinese culture. Tourism was about to start and to become the new patron of the arts.
Immediate benefits of Dutch rule
There were some good things. Suttee, called satya in Balinese, the immolation of widows, was banned in 1895. The princely right to confiscate widows and female children and their possessions on the death of the head of a family without male heirs was abolished. Punishments, although more frequent, were less bloodthirsty than under the rajas.
Immediate hardships of Dutch rule
Cash taxation increased. Land tax was the largest single source of revenue after opium. The Dutch got most of their income from tax, rice and opium. Compulsory unpaid labour in road and bridge building and construction of public buildings by able heads of families and sometimes children was increased from one day a month (the requirement of the palace in Bangli) to between 30 and 50 days a year under the Dutch. (The gentry were excused compulsory labour and were recruited by the Dutch into government). The number of days was reduced to 25 in 1931 and 20 in 1938.
Rice and opium under the Dutch
The Dutch headquarters were in Singaraja in North Bali. By 1914 the Dutch were firmly in control, operating through the Balinese kings, who learned Dutch from the colonial service and who were encouraged to send their children to school in Java or Holland.
The most profitable aspect of that control was the revenue earned from rice and opium. After 1830 the driving force was opium. The Dutch started by taxing it, but it was more profitable to create a monopoly over all aspects of the trade, which they did throughout the empire by 1895. The profits were immense.
It was widely used. By the end of the century nearly every Balinese male and female adult was an addict.
Indeed extending the opium monopoly over all of Bali was a principal goal of the Dutch government. The Balinese resistance to the imposition of the opium monopoly on Bali prompted the massacre of the court of Klungkung on 28 April 1908.
Caste system under the Dutch
The pre-colonial caste system was fairly fluid, but under the Dutch it became rigid. Dutch policy had a strong high caste bias. The Dutch disproportionately appointed members of the highest castes to high political, judicial and religious office. There were more Sudras in these positions before colonial rule than after it. The privileges enjoyed by Sudra title groups, like the Bandesa, Paseks and Pandes were lost. These groups did not fit in well with the Dutch rigid caste system, as they were theoretically Sudras but set apart from the other Sudras.
In 1910 an official decision was taken to uphold the caste concept. It was made rigid, sanctioned by the state. It caused resentment. By the mid 1920s it was causing frustration amongst the educated Sudras. Caste became controversial.
The Dutch counted and classified the population according to caste. They introduced laws against certain inter-caste marriages. The sanction was exile, either within Bali or perhaps to Lombok. They sold certificates allowing the right to use the title Gusti. One of the first actions of the Bali regional Government after Independence was to rescind the ban on inter-caste marriages, in 1951.
Education under the Dutch
Western education was introduced initially to provide fodder for the civil service. The first school in Bali was established in 1875.
The gentry initially avoided schools, as they were concerned about the level of Balinese language and the status arrangements. They were worried that the schools would be egalitarian in the use of language and that seating arrangements would not place the high castes in an upper position and in the purest direction. Violation of these rules can cause a high caste to fall to a lower caste, called susud.
Schools were racially segregated. Each racial group – Chinese, Arab, European and local – had a different type of school. Dutch Native Schools were set up in Denpasar and Singaraja. Private Dutch Native Schools were also established.
As mentioned above the Dutch recruited the higher castes into the senior positions in the bureaucracy. They therefore encouraged high caste children to attend schools. Admission rules favoured them too. Lower castes required sponsors. Members of royal families were often sent to Java, usually Malang, in the 1920s and 1930s.
It was, however, small scale and rudimentary. In Bali and Lombok, in 1920, 6.7 per cent. of boys and 0.25 per cent. of girls aged five to fifteen years were attending school and only 8.01 per cent. of males and 0.35 per cent. of females over fifteen years were literate.
In 1926 there were only 98 schools in all of Bali, all at primary level and 70 per cent. of them provided just three years’ education. By 1929 the number of primary schools, which is still all that there was, had increased to 128, attended by 14,372 students. Girls comprised 10.45 per cent.
By 1929, 73 Balinese students were attending secondary schools outside Bali, mainly in Java. It was not until the Japanese Occupation that education was greatly improved.
Balinese History – the Europeans