Bali Tribes – History & Traditions

Traditional tribe, tribe, tribesBali is one of the island in Indonesia with its capital Denpasar. Bali is an island which is called paradise island. Then, it is one of the islands that called as paradise. Most of people who have traveled and has great views for foreign tourists and local tourists.

Thus, the area has a magnificent beauty that is very attractive for tourists. The island community is mostly Hindu. On the other hand, not only the beauty of the area that attract many travelers who arrive there, but it was also the diversity of arts and culture in Bali that are appealing for many tourists who went there.

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The native inhabitants of Bali, have come to the island of Bali, before the wave of migration of Hindu-Javanese, from the village of Bedulu. According to the folklore, There lived the last Royalty of Pejeng which is an old Balinese kingdom, namely Sri Aji Asura Bumi Banten, who has supernatural powers. He could cut his head without dying and put it back.

One day, the king’s head accidentally fell into the river and drift away. Then, one of his servants, went into panic mode and decided to immediately cut off the pig’s head instead as a replacement and change the king’s head with the animal’s head. The king hid in a tall tower, forbidding anyone to see him. However, there is a little boy who found the secret and since then, the king is known as Dalem Bedulu, or He-Who-changed-head. More scientific reason is a theory that it comes from the name Badahulu or “upper village”. After the Pejeng kingdom, then Majapahit Empire rose to power.

The origins of the tribe of Bali is divided into three periods, or groups of migration:

a. The first wave occurred as a result of population distribution occurred in the archipelago during prehistoric times.
b. The second wave occurs slowly during the development of Hinduism in the archipelago.
c. The third wave is the last wave from Java. Its when Majapahit collapsed in the 15th century along with Islamization in Javanese Majapahit. A number of people choosing to preserve its culture in Bali. Thus forming a syncretism between classical Javanese culture with native tradition of Bali.

Others have suggested that the indigenous Bali Aga  is one of the first tribe who live in the village of Trunyan. The people of Bali Aga is regarded as a mountain man that is called stupid for its exclusion of foreign community. The tribe people living in very secluded mountainous and inland area and are untouched by the technology completely.

The original inhabitants of Bali Aga’s tribe settled in the mountains because people were shutting out migrants, which they call Hindu Bali, the descendant population of Majapahit. In addition, many people also assume that the area in the mountains is a sacred place because the area has a lot of castles and temples that are considered sacred by the Balinese.

Besides the Bali Aga, there are also parts of Bali Majapahit. The tribe is derived from the Javanese migrants who mostly live on the island of Bali, especially in the lowlands. Balinese tribe is derived from the Javanese people at the Majapahit empire that embraced Hinduism. The livelihoods of tribal communities is farming. The tribe is also one of the influencer of tribal history in Bali.

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Customs and Cultures

The culture of Bali is well-known for its dance rhythm, performance pattern, and the art of sculpture. Some people noted that all Balinese deserve to be called an artist, because there are a variety of artful activities that they can do in their busy life. Such as a farmers, traders, porters, drivers, and many others. From dancing, playing music, painting, doing sculpture or singing, in every village though one can find a beautiful temple, great Gamelan players , and even a talented actor. Even the offerings that are made by Balinese women have an artistic side of the layered pieces of palm leaves and fruits arrangement that is neat and tall.

According to recent papers, Balinese is a craftsman amateur artists, who perform the activity of art as a form of tribute, and did not care if his name would be remembered or not. Balinese artist is also a good imitator, so there is also a temple decorated with carvings resembling a typical Chinese god, or decorated with a motor vehicle, which they mirrored from a page of a foreign magazine.

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The caste systems

Balinese people recognize the caste system that were inherited from their ancestors. Although, today it is no longer enforced as rigidly as in the past, but in some ways some rule are still maintained. For example, in the tradition of marriage ceremonies and there are still known distinction based on the ancestral line. Its refer to caste system like in the past.

This caste system originated in the XIV century when Bali kingdom were conquered by Majapahit. At first, this caste is made and intended to distinguish between the origin Majapahit ruler of Java. Before, it which were task to managed and rule in Bali with local communities that were conquered. They people and their families are derived from the Majapahit even though they were numbered in minority. However, they hold full management of all the affairs of government. Therefore, they formed their own social strata culminating in Kepakisan Dynasty, originating from Majapahit.

They control the entire island of Bali by dividing powers between them, the commander and his descendants. The kings, nobles, priests, princes palace, military soldiers, servant of the palace, and their families, a Javanese (Majapahit) creates three caste systems among the top class for them.

  • For the pastor and religious leaders they are given the highest position of caste that are called Brahmana.
  • For the king, the nobility, royal officials, and troops they are given the caste Kesatria.
  • To the palace servants, experts in weapons makers, scholars, that come from Javanese are given Vaishya caste.

As for the majority people of Bali that are conquered they were not given any position or caste. They are all included in the lowest caste class that is commonly called the Sudra, or in Bali known as “Jaba”. This rule also applied to the descendants of the ruling family of the ancient pre-Majapahit era, that is called Dynasty Warmadewa that has assimilated themselves in society of Sudra after losing their power to Majapahit.

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The caste system was initially created as a division of professions that are passed down to future entitled generations and should not be taken by other castes. It also applies in religious ceremonies in accordance to their caste, and the ceremonies size and the number of offerings that are required of them.

In practice, it also imposed the restrictions that they must not freely do intermarry between different caste. Boy from higher castes may marry the daughter of a caste beneath him or children of the Sudra. The wives then has its caste elevated from this marriage during caste ceremonies with her husband. Then, women who have climbed caste because of this marriage was later called Jero. An entire offspring of these couple is then entitled to the same caste as their father by the rules of paternalistic.

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However, that rule does not apply to girls. For girls from the higher caste, customarily are not allowed to marry the man of the caste beneath her let alone from the Sudra community. When this happens, the girls had to leave her caste and stuck forever into the caste of her husband. Caste system is still strong in the naming system of the Balinese people. They gave a name prefix as a first word that indicates Caste relative to their families.

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The language used is the language of local dialect Bali and Indonesia language, the majority of Balinese people speaks many languages. English is also included and many more, often it is suited for foreign language that are influenced by the needs of the tourist people. Bali native language is divided into two, namely:

1. Language of Bali Aga that has rude pronunciation.

2. Bali Majapahit English language that has its pronunciation that is more subtle.

See also: Hinduism in Bali – History of Jakarta

Arts of Bali

The art and culture that exist in Bali, make the place become a magnet for tourism. It offers experience of the various culture that surround the place and made a strong appeal for tourists who come to the area. Here are some of the example :

Traditional House

Bali home is built in accordance with the rules of Asta Kosala Kosali. It teaching that are contained in the Vedas holy book that govern the layout of the room and building, it is similar to Feng Shui in Chinese Culture.

Based to the philosophy of the Balinese people, the dynamism of life will be achieved when the realization of a synchronize movement among concepts pawongan (inhabitant), palemahan (environment) and parahyangan (mountainous area). For the construction of a house there needed inclusion of these concepts or the so-called Tri Hita Karana. Pawongan is the people of the house. Palemahan means there should be a good relationship between people and its environment.

In general, building or area of Bali’s traditional architecture is always filled with ornaments, such as engraving, equipment and provision of various color. Ornament contains certain sense of an expression of the beauty of the symbols and the delivery of communication. Decorative forms of fauna species also function as ritual symbols that appear in the statue.

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Funerals Ceremony

The people of Bali have always held the ceremony of the death when someone the knew or relatives died. This funeral ceremony is known as the cremation ceremony or Ngaben. This ceremony is the burning ceremony for a body of a deceased person.

In essence, this ceremony is intended to restore the ancestral spirits of the dead person to its original place. A man called Pedanda said that human has Bayu, Sabda, Idep, and after the death Bayu, Sabda, Idep was restored to Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva as the god who is believed by the community or society, especially Bali Hindus people.

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Traditional Balinese dress

Balinese has a lot of type or variants for their native clothing. For women who are still teenagers, they are using something called sanggul gonjer, while the adult woman wears a sanggul Tagel, then couple it with sesentang or strapless songket, Cain wastra, Belt prada or stagen to fixed the hips and chest.

There are Shawl songket worn from shoulders down, tapih clothes or Sinjang, On the inside of cloth, there are a variety of shiny accessories, often fitted with kebaya, the fabric protecting the chest, and sandals as a added fashion. For men using a bandana then use binder or certain scarf, shawl cloth, native cloth, a keris, a leather, jacket, as well as accessories that are used to decorate the performance of the man.

See also: Dayak Tribe – Gamelan Facts

Bali dance

Bali has various types of dances that come from this area namely:

[toggle title=”Pendet dance” state=”opened”]

Pendet is danced as a gratitude dance. It uses to welcome the guests and its entourage by spreading flowers and facial expressions of the dancers displayed with a sweet smile. At the beginning, this dance is used in the event of worship in Hindus temples as a form of welcoming  the gods that descended upon to the earth.

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[toggle title=”Panji Semirang Dance“]

This dance is played by a woman. Panji Semirang dance is a dance that tell the story of a princess named Galuh Candrakirana, camouflaged as a man after her husband death. In his journey he rename himself to Raden Panji.

[toggle title=”Condong Dance“]

This dance is a movement that is quite hard to perform and this dance has long duration. This dance is the classic dance of Bali which has a movement that is so complicated and depicted a servant king.

[toggle title=”Dance Kecak“]

This dance is a very famous dance from Bali area. This dance is played by dozens of men who sits in circular motion. This dance is depicting the story of  Ramayana when Rama soldier of apes are trying to help Ramayana fight Rahwana. Kecak dance songs is taken from the ritual dances of sanghyang that is the dance traditions where the dancers will be in a trance condition to be able to communicate with God or spirits of the ancestors and then convey his wishes to the people.


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Regional Musical Instruments

Balinese has a traditional musical instrumentation that are typical of the area, this instrument is a musical tools legacy of their ancestors, and below are some traditional musical tools of Bali:

[toggle title=”Balinese Gamelan” state=”opened”]

Gamelan is a musical art cultures that is important in plenty of traditional Balinese ceremony. Every type of music is tailored to the show. Music for anniversary is different from the other musical events such as smoothing the teeth, as well as weddings, cremation, and so forth. Gamelan diversity was suited to various  dance existed in Bali. This dance makes Balinese life complete as well as becoming a critical element in a series of ceremonies that went on and on.

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As in Java, Bali tribe also has the puppet show, but with a certain type of puppets that is more like humans than the normally Javanese wayang kulit. Bali tribes also have certain aspects related to their religious cultures. Their religious belief is a syncretism between Hindu-Buddhist with Balinese tradition. Just like other regions in Indonesia which has a musical instrument gamelan, Bali also has a gamelan musical instruments. However, this Balinese gamelan has differences with other areas one of which is being played at the rhythm of Balinese gamelan manifold rapid rhythm.

[toggle title=”Rindik”]

One of Balinese traditional instruments.  It made from pieces of bamboo. Bamboo will be selected so it can not be easy to break. Then it can produces a good sound.


Special handicrafts

Bali has the special handicrafts made by people there that began making hand-woven bags, Bali carving sculpture of a display or on the door, certain handicrafts made of silver or glass, wooden masks from Bali, certain types of accessories from Bali and many more others.

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Belief System

The majority of Bali has embraced Hindu-Buddhist Shiva, one of the Hindu religious denominations. These teachings brought by the priests of India wandering in the archipelago and then introduce the Hindu-Buddhist literature to Bali tribe centuries ago. Society accepted it and combine it with a pre-Hindu mythology that they believed. Bali tribes that had existed before the third wave of migration, known as the Bali Aga, the majority of religious belief is different from the tribe of Bali in general. They maintain the tradition of animism.

  • Bali Hindu tribes believe in one God with the concept of Trimurti consisting of three beings, namely:


[tr][td]Brahmana[/td] [td]To create[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Vishnu[/td] [td]To preserve[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Shiva[/td] [td]To destroy[/td][/tr]


  • Besides that, there are also the things that they think are important that is as follows:


[tr][td]Atman[/td] [td] The eternal spirit[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Karmapala[/td] [td]Result of every deed[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Purnabawa[/td] [td]Rebirth of soul[/td][/tr]


  • Hindu places of worship is called a temple. Pura has different properties, as follows:


[tr][td]Pura Besakih[/td] [td] Its purpose is for the common people to all classes[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Pura Desa (three heaven)[/td] [td] Special purpose for local social groups[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sanggah[/td] [td] Special for ancestors[/td][/tr]


See also: Endangered Animals in Indonesia – Sumatran Tigers

The richness of culture existed in Bali tribe is a testament of how great the culture and diverse variety of people that come together and create an immerse history that permeated every life of Balinese.

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