1902 Encyclopedia > Bali


BALI, or LITTLE JAVA, one of the Sunda Islands, in the Eastern Seas, separated from Java by the straits of the same name, which are a mile and a half wide. It is 75 miles in length; its greatest breadth is 50 miles. A chain of mountains crosses the island in a direction K and W., and terminates on the E. in the volcanic peak Gunung-agung, 12,379 feet above the sea-leveL The climate and soil are the same as in Java; it has mountains of proportionate height, several lakes of great depth, and streams well fitted for the purposes of irrigation. Rice is produced in great quantities, and is even exported to Madura, Celebes, Timor, and Java. The other productions are tobacco, maize, pulses, oil, and salt; also cotton of an excellent quality. Coffee is now grown with great success ; in the district of Teja Kulo alone, 150,000 trees were planted in the first four months of 1873. The inhabitants (estimated at about 800,000), though originally sprung from the same stock as those of Java, exceed them in stature and muscular power, as well as in activity and enterprising habits. "They have," says Sir Stamford Raffles, " a higher cast of spirit, independence, and manliness than belongs to any of their neighbours." They are good agriculturists and skilful artisans, especially in textile fabrics and the manufacture of arms. The imports are iron and cotton cloths, and opium to a great extent; in the district of Tabanan alone, forty chests of this drug are annually consumed. Both imports and exports are on the increase ; but trade is chiefly in the hands of Europeans, Chinese, and Arabs, who have their firms or agents in Batavia, Surabaya, Makassar, and Singapore. The trade returns in the port of Padang Cove are estimated at £500,000 to £600,000 per annum; those of Buleleng and Jembrana were about £500,000 in 1873. The island is divided into the eight independent principalities of Buleleng, Karang Asam, Bangli, Tabanan, Mengui, Klong-kong, Gyanyar, and Badong, each under its own ruler. The deputy-commissioner of Banyuwangi in east Java is also charged with the superintendence of the island of Bali in behalf of the Dutch Government. Though native rule is described as very tyrannical and arbitrary, especially in the principalities of Badong and Tabanan, trade and industry could not flourish if insecurity of persons and property existed to any great extent. The natives have also a remedy against the aggression of their rulers in then-own hands ; it is called Metilas, consists in a general rising and renunciation of allegiance, and proves mostly successful. Justice is administered from a written civil and criminal code. Slavery is abolished. Hinduism, which was onco the religion of Java, but has been extinct there for four centuries, is still in vogue in the islands of Bali and Lombok, where the cruel custom of widow burning is still practised, and the Hindu system of the four castes, with a fifth or Pariah caste (called Chanddla), adhered to. It appears partly blended with Buddhism, partly overgrown with a belief in Kalas, or evil spirits. To appease these, offerings are made to them either direct or through the mediation of the Devas (domestic or agrarian deities); and if these avail not, the Menyepi, or Great Sacrifice, is resorted to. Buddhism prevails only in three districts. The Mahometan religion is said to be on the wane, in spite of the good influence it has exerted upon the people. Of the early history of their island the Balinese know nothing. The oldest tradition they possess refers to a time shortly after the overthrow of the Majapahit dynasty in Jam about the middle of the 15th century; but, according to Lassen, who identifies Bali with the island visited by Jambulos, there must have been Indian settlers there before the middle of the 1st century, by whom the present name, probably cognate with the Sanskrit balin, strong, was in all likelihood imposed. It was not till 1633 that the Dutch attempted to enter into alliance with the native princes, and their earliest permanent settlement at Port Badong only dates from 1845. Their influence was extended by the results of the war which they waged with the natives about 1847-9. A geological survey of the whole island is at present (1874-5) in progress under their auspices. The Balinese language belongs to the same group of the Malayan class as the Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, <fec, but is as distinct from each of these as French is from Italian. It is most nearly akin to the Sasak language spoken in Lombok and on the east coast of Bali. The literary language has embodied many of its ingredients from the Old Javanese, as spoken in Java at the time of the fall of Majapahit (15th century), while the vulgar dialect has kept free from such admixture. Javanese influence is also traceable in the use of three varieties of speech, as in the Javanese language, according to the rank of the people addressed. The alphabet is with some modifications the same as the Javanese, but more complicated. The material universally used for writing on is the prepared leaf of the lontar palm. The sacred literature of the Balinese is written in the ancient Javanese or Kaxvi language, which appears to be better understood here than it is in Java. (See R. van Eck, Beknopte handleiding bij debeoefening van het Balineesche taal, Utrecht, 1874.) In the years 1871 and 1872, 15,000 people died of smallpox in the island ; since then vaccination has been introduced by the Dutch. In September 1874 several districts were fearfully ravaged by cholera ; in Sampidi alone out of its 3000 inhabitants 700 fell victims to the scourge; the rest filed into the woods.
Crawfurd's Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands, 1856 ; P. J. Veth, Woordenboek van Nedcrlandsch Indie, 1869 ; Tijd-schrifl voor Nederlandsch Indie for 1874, vol. ii. p. 439, ff. ; Lassen's Indisehe Alterthumskunde, iii. iv., passim; Friedrich's "Verslag van Bali " in Trans, of Batavian Soc. of Arts and Sci., xxiii., and a paper in the Journal of the Ind. Arch., 1849 ; M. de Carnbée's " Essai sur Bali " in Le Moniteur des Indes Orient, 1846-47 ; Dubois's Vies des Gouverneurs-généraux ; Backer's L'Archipel Indien, 1874 ; Jaarboek van het Mijnwezcn in N. Ost.-Indie, 1874.

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