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History of Bali

It’s sure that Bali has been inhabited since early prehistoric times, however the oldest human artefacts found are 3000-year-old stone tools and ceramic ware vessels from Cekik. Not a lot of is known of Bali throughout the amount once Indian traders brought Hinduism to the Indonesian solid ground, however the earliest written records square measure stone inscriptions geological dating from round the ninth century. By that point, rice was being mature below the complicated irrigation system called subak, and there have been precursors of the religious and cultural traditions that may be derived to the current day.

Hindu influence

Hindu Java began to spread its influence into Bali throughout the reign of King Airlangga, from 1019 to 1042. At the age of sixteen, Airlangga had fled into the forests of western Java when his uncle lost the throne. He gradually gained support, won back the kingdom once dominated by his uncle and went on to become one of Java’s greatest kings. Airlangga’s mother had affected to Bali and remarried shortly after his birth, thus once he gained the throne there was a direct link between Java and Bali. At now, the formal Javanese language called Kawi came into use among the royalty of Bali, and also the rock-cut memorials seen at Gunung Kawi (Mt Kawi) close to Tampaksiring are a transparent architectural link between Bali and 11th-century Java.

After Airlangga’s death, Bali maintained its semi-independent standing until Kertanagara became king of the Singasari dynasty in Java 2 centuries later. Kertanagara conquered Bali in 1284, however his power lasted solely eight years until he was murdered and his kingdom collapsed. With Java in turmoil, Bali regained its autonomy and also the Pejeng dyn­asty, centred close to modern-day Ubud, rose to great power. In 1343 Gajah Mada, the legendary chief minister of the Majapahit dynasty, defeated the Pejeng king Dalem Bedaulu and brought Bali back under Javanese influence.

By the numbers, Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world with more than 1 billion followers, yet Western people still don’t understand it.

Although Gajah Mada brought much of the Indonesian land under Majapahit management, Bali was the furthest extent of its power. Here the ‘capital’ affected to Gelgel, close to modern-day Semarapura (once called Klungkung), round the late fourteenth century, and for the following 2 centuries this was the base for the ‘king of Bali’, the Dewa Agung. The Majapahit kingdom collapsed into disputing sultanates. However, the Gelgel dynasty in Bali, under Dalem Batur Enggong, extended its power eastward to the neighboring island of Lombok and even crossed the strait to Java.

As the Majapahit kingdom fell apart, several of its intelligentsia moved to Bali, as well as the priest Nirartha, who is credit­ed with introducing several of the complexities of balinese religion to the island. Artists, dancers, musicians and actors also fled to Bali at this point, and the island experienced an explosion of cultural activities. the final great exodus to Bali took place in 1478.

European contact

The first Europeans to set foot in bali were Dutch seafarers in 1597. Setting a practice that prevails to the present, they fell in love with the island, and once Cornelius Houtman – the ship’s captain – ready to set sail from bali, a number of his crew refused to depart with him. At that time, balinese prosperity and artistic activity, at least among the royalty, were at a peak, and the king who befriended Houtman had two hundred wives and a chariot pulled by 2 white buffaloes, to not mention a retinue of fifty dwarfs. once the Dutch came back to indonesia in later years, they were inquisitive about profit, not culture, and barely gave bali a second look.

Dutch conquest

Dutch intervention in Lombok and Karangasem against the Balinese in 1894.

In 1710 the capital of the Gelgel kingdom was shifted to close Klungkung (now referred to as Semarapura), however local discontent was growing, lesser rulers were breaking away from Gelgel domination and therefore the Dutch began to move in, using the old policy of divide and conquer. In 1846 the Dutch used balinese salvage claims over shipwrecks as the pretext to land military forces in northern Bali. In 1894 the Dutch chose to support the Sasaks of Lombok in a rebellion against their balinese rajah. after some bloody battles, the balinese were defeated in Lombok, and with northern Bali firmly under Dutch control, southern Bali wasn’t likely to retain its independence for long. Once again, salvaging disputes gave the Dutch the excuse they required to move in. A Chinese ship was destroyed off Sanur in 1904 and pillaged by the balinese. The Dutch demanded that the rajah of Badung pay 3000 silver dollars in damages – this was refused. In 1906 Dutch warships appeared at Sanur; Dutch forces landed and, despite balinese opposition, marched the 5km to the outskirts of Denpasar.

On twenty September 1906, the Dutch mounted a naval bombardment of Denpasar then commenced their final assault. The 3 rajahs of Badung (southern Bali) realized that they were outnumbered and outgunned, which defeat was inevit­able. Surrender and exile, however, was the worst imaginable outcome, so that they decided to take the honourable path of a suicidal puputan – a fight to the death.

The Dutch begged the balinese to surrender instead of make their hopeless stand, however their pleas went unheard and wave after wave of the balinese nobility marched forward to their deaths. In all, nearly 4000 Bali­nese died in the puputan. Later, the Dutch marched east towards Tabanan, taking the rajah of Tabanan captive, however he committed suicide instead of face the disgrace of exile.

The kingdoms of Karangasem and Gianyar had already capitulated to the Dutch and were allowed to retain some powers, but other kingdoms were defeated and therefore the rulers exiled. Finally, the rajah of Klungkung followed the lead of Badung and once more the Dutch faced a puputan. With this last obstacle disposed of, all of Bali was currently under Dutch control and have become a part of the Dutch East Indies. Dutch rule over Bali was short-lived, however, as indonesia fell to the japanese in WWII.


Sukarno praying before proclaiming the independence of Indonesia

On seventeen August 1945, simply once WWII ended, the Indonesian leader Soekarno announced the nation’s independence, however it took four years to convince the Dutch that they were not going to get their nice colony back. in a very virtual repeat of the puputan nearly half a century earlier, a balinese resistance group was wiped out within the Battle of Marga on twenty November 1946; Bali’s landing field, Ngurah Rai, is named after its leader. it was not until 1949 that the Dutch finally recognised Indonesia’s independence.

The huge eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963 killed thousands, desolated vast areas of the island and made many Bali­nese to simply accept transmigration to other parts of Indo­nesia. 2 years later, within the wake of the attempted communist coup, Bali became the scene of a number of the bloodiest anticommunist killings in indonesia. These were perhaps inflamed by some mystical desire to purge the land of evil, however additionally transpire because the radical agenda of reform and abolition of the caste system was a threat to traditional balinese values. The brutality of the killings was in shocking contrast to the stereotype of the ‘gentle’ balinese.

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