Balinese - History and Cultural Relations

Archaeological remains, inscriptions, and literary and oral historical accounts indicate that an indigenous population in Bali came into increasing contact with travelers from Java after the fifth century A.D. These outsiders brought Hindu and Buddhist ideas of religion, language, and political organization. It is not known whether the travelers were themselves from the subcontinent, Indianized inhabitants of Java, or both. In the eleventh century A.D. , Airlangga, son of a Balinese king and a Javanese queen, became the first ruler to unite Bali with an eastern Javanese kingdom. For the following three centuries the Balinese were intermittently ruled from the east Javanese kingdom of Majapahit, which fell to Islamic forces in 1515. Court officials then fled to Balinese kingdoms where they strengthened the Indianized literary and statecraft traditions that endured in Bali, which was not influenced by Islam. For the next three centuries Bali had small kingdoms, several of which periodically dominated one or more of the others. The Dutch colonial government largely ignored Bali, which had no good harbor on the northern trade route, until the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1855 the first resident Dutch official arrived in north Bali and colonial control over the island increased thereafter until absolute direct governance was imposed by defeating the southern kingdoms militarily in 1906 and 1908. Direct Dutch colonial rule lasted until the Japanese occupied the island from 1942 to 1945. After World War II there was fighting in Bali between those who supported Indonesian independence and forces attempting to reestablish Dutch colonial rule.

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