Balinese people

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Balinesisk dansare.jpg
Balinese dancer
Total population
3.0 million (2000 census)
Balinese, Sasak, Indonesian
Balinese Hinduism
Related ethnic groups
Javanese, Sasak, Tenggerese

The Balinese (Indonesian: Suku Bali) are an ethnic group native to the Indonesian island of Bali. Balinese population of 3.0 million (1.5% of Indonesia's population) live mostly on the island of Bali, making up 89% of the island's population. There are also significant populations on the island of Lombok, and in the eastern-most regions of Java (e.g. the Municipality of Banyuwangi). It is the most populous Hindu majority island in the world.


Main article: History of Bali

The origins of the Balinese came from three periods: the first waves of immigrants came from Java and Kalimantan in the prehistoric times of the proto-Malay stock;[citation needed] the second wave of Balinese came slowly over the years from Java during the Hindu period; the third and final period came from Java, between the 15th and 16th centuries, at the time of the conversion of Islam in Java, aristocrats and peasants fled to Bali after the collapse of the Javanese Majapahit Empire to escape Mataram's Islamic conversion, reshaping the Balinese culture into a syncretic form of classical Javanese culture with many Balinese elements.


Main articles: Music of Bali and Balinese art
Balinese people bring offerings to the temple.

Balinese culture is perhaps most known for its dance, drama and sculpture. The culture is noted for its use of the gamelan in music. The island is also known for its form of Wayang kulit or Shadow play/Shadow Puppet theatre. It also has several unique aspects related to their religions traditions. Balinese culture is a mix of Balinese Hindu/Buddhist religion and Balinese custom.

Traditionally, a display of female breasts is not regarded as immodest. Balinese women can often be seen with their bare chest; however, a display of the thigh is considered immodest. In modern Bali these customs are normally not strictly observed, but visitors visiting Balinese temples are advised to cover their legs.

In the Balinese naming system, a person's rank of birth or caste is reflected in the name.


A puputan is an act of mass suicide through frontal assaults in battle, and was first noted by the Dutch during the colonization of Bali. The latest act of puputan was during the Indonesian war of Independence, with Lt. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai as the leader in the battle of Puputan Margarana. The airport in Bali is named after him in commemoration.


Main article: Balinese Hinduism

The vast majority of the Balinese believe in Agama Tirta, "holy-water religion". It is a Shivaite sect of Hinduism. Traveling Indian priests are said to have introduced the people to the sacred literature of Hinduism and Buddhism centuries ago. The people accepted it and combined it with their own pre-Hindu mythologies.[1] The Balinese from before the third wave of immigration, known as the Bali Aga, are mostly not followers of Agama Tirta, but retain their own animist traditions.


The Balinese women preparing for religious festival.

Kuta Karnaval, Sanur Beach Festival.


  1. ^ Steve Lansing, Three Worlds of Bali. Praeger, 1983.

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