Puputan is a Balinese term that refers to a mass ritual suicide in preference to facing the humiliation of surrender. Notable puputans occurred in 1906 and 1908 when the Balinese were being subjugated by the Dutch.
1906 Badung puputan
On September 14, 1906, an overwhelming Dutch force landed at Sanur beach; there was no significant resistance and the force marched to Denpasar, Bali, as if in a dress parade. They passed through a seemingly deserted town and approached the royal palace, noting smoke rising from the puri and, most disquietingly, they heard a wild beating of drums coming from within the palace walls.
Upon reaching the palace, a silent procession emerged, led by the Raja, borne by four bearers on a palanquin. The Raja was dressed in traditional white cremation garments, wore magnificent jewelry, and was armed with a ceremonial kris. The other people in the procession consisted of the Raja's officials, guards, priests, wives, children and retainers, all of whom were similarly attired.
When the procession was a hundred paces from the Dutch force, they halted and the Raja stepped down from the palanquin and signaled a priest who plunged his dagger into the Raja's breast. The rest of the procession began killing themselves and others.
A "stray gunshot" and an "attack by lance and spear" prompted the Dutch to open fire with rifles and artillery. Women mockingly threw jewelry and gold coins at the troops. As more people emerged from the palace, the mounds of corpses rose higher and higher. Approximately 1,000 Balinese died.
The soldiers stripped the corpses of the valuables and sacked the ruins of the burned palace.
1908 Klungkung puputan
Another puputan occurred on the 18th of April, 1908, at Klungkung Palace.
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- "History of Puputan Badung, page 2". Denpasar Government Municipality Tourism Office.
- "Puputan Square". Denpasar Government Municipality Tourism Office.