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People of Bali  

by on Tuesday, 13 November 2007No Comment | 2,969 views

The Balinese are just one of Indonesia’s 250 ethnic groups. Like most Indonesians they are a blend of races, with the accent on the deutero-malayan race of Central and East Java, with traces, of Polynesian and Melanesian blood, as well as Indian and Chinese. This genetic back ground explains the variety of radical types seen on the island most Balinese are small hand some people with round delicate features thick black hair long sweeping eyelashes heart shaped lips and warm brown complexions others are darker skinned and straight haired like pacific islanders, or curly haired with flat noses like Papuans.

[photopress:gamelan_cudamani_low_1.jpg,full,pp_image]
Çudamani Gamelan troupe

The Balinese are an extraordinarily creative people with a highly sensual theatrical culture. Culturally, the Javanese lean more toward refinement and modesty, keeping themselves in check in life and art, while the Balinese prefer the headier, flashier sensations – laugh, terror, spicier and sweeter foods. Balinese are more lavish and baroque in their colors and decorations, with more explosive music and fast, jerky dancing.

The first inhabitants of Bali were Austronesian ethnic from Tonkin in South China, they are known as Bali Mula (the true Bali). Around 8th century the great Sage Markandya and 800 of his followers came from Mount Raung in the Basuki area of East Java to settle in Bali, but a pestilence broke and killed most of the settlers. Some years later he returned, this time with only 400 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 Besakih. They are settled in the areas around Campuan, Taro, Tegalalang and Payangan and the present temple area of Besakih. These settlers are known as Bali Aga.

The successful establishment of settlers from Aga in Bali led to constant influx of settlers from Java. The most significant influx of Javanese settlers to Bali was arrived at the time when Bali was conquered by Majapahit Empire of East Java. Many Majapahit’s settlers came to Bali, they are known as Wong Majapahit. Early in 16th century Majaphit collapsed, thousands of Majapahit’s scholars, jurist, dancers, painters, craftsman, intellectual, literati and priests came to settle in Bali. This new settlers brought new breath to the Balinese culture.

With total population of around 3,300.000, the population density of Bali is nearly 560 per square kilometer; Bali is Indonesia’s second most densely populated island after Java. The vast majority of rural population practices sycretic Bali-Hindu religion. There are also sprinkling of Muslim in the coastal town and Denpasar, a Bugis settlement on Serangan Island, Buddhist in the mountain and Christians everywhere. Several thousand Arabs and Indian live in Denpasar. Ten thousands Chinese are found in the main trading centers of Denpasar, Singaraja, and Amlapura. There are also around 27,000 Western expatriates – clothes designers, exporters, artists, aid workers, consultants, English teachers. Many western jewelry and garment makers have intermarried with the Balinese.

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