Bali’s Culture


The Paradise Island


People say that the Balinese people have reached self-content. It is not an exaggeration that when a Balinese is asked what heaven is like, he will say, just like Bali, without the worries of mundane life. The Balinese want to live in Bali, to be cremated in Bali when they die, and to reincarnate in Bali.


It does not mean that the Balinese resist changes. Instead, they adapt them to their own system. This goes back far in history. Prior to the arrival of Hinduism in Bali and in other parts of Indonesia, people practiced animism. When Hinduism arrived, the practice was adapted to local customs, which explains why the brand of Hinduism practiced in Bali is much different from that in India. Other aspects of life also flow this way.


Traditional paintings, faithfully depicting religious and mythological symbolism, meet with Western concepts, giving birth to contemporary paintings, free in their creative topics yet strongly and distinctively Balinese. Dance, music, and wayang theatre, while continually enriched by contemporary and external artistry, is still laden with religious connotations, performed mostly to appease and to please the gods and the goddesses. Wood and stone carvings, as well as gold and silver crafts, parallel the development of paintings, gracefully evolving with external forces to enhance their characters. The batik of Bali, meanwhile, owes its origin to Java, inspired the development of ikat and double ikat textiles.

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