The island of Bali is a city among the islands of Indonesia, located east of Java and west of Lombak in the Indian Ocean. As stated in “The Anthropological Romance of Bali 1597-1972,” Bali is “in the very center of the Indonesian archipelago” (Boon 1). This island is part of the largest nation in size and population in Southeast Asia.
Bali is quite complex in their belief systems, especially when perceived by the western world. Their belief system is not comprised of a singular core religion, but of a sort of amalgam of various world religions. The religion of Bali is referred to as Hindu-Balinese Religion, or Agama Hindu Bali (Ramseyer 93), but the true religion of this culture is far more multi-faceted than this title justifies. The people of Bali have essentially created their own individualized religion by combining Mahayana Buddhism, orthodox Siwaism, “demonic practices of Trantric sects”, and Javanized Hinduism from Majapahit, joined by a dualistic world view and worship of nature and ancestors (Ramseyer 93).
Balinese religion can more simply be described as “a mixture of animism, Hindu beliefs, Buddhism, and ancestor worship” (Cross 37). A key concept in the Balinese belief system is the principle of balance. This applies to the society, environment, family, and individuals. The most important kind of balance in Balinese religion is the balance that must be maintained between opposite forces, known as Rwa Bhineda (Cross 38). Good versus Evil, Male versus Female, and Light versus Darkness are just a few examples of the opposites emphasized in their belief system, but the most vital of the opposites is Cooperation versus Chaos. With this pair of opposites, it is absolutely crucial within Balin...
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...o allow dancers to make contact with gods or demons, or allow the dancer to be filled by the spirit of an ancestor or deity (Cross 37). So, although we cannot identify every specific dance in Balinese culture, we are able to conclude that dance as an art is critical and definitive to the culture as a whole.
Belo, Jane Traditional Balinese Culture: Essays Columbia University Press, NY., 1970
Boon, James A The Anthropological Romance of Bali Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 1977
Cross, Kara Dancing From The Heart Kendall/Hunt Publishing, Dubuque, IA, 2011
Friederich, Rudolph Th. A The Civilization and Culture of Bali Calcutta: Susil Gupta, India, 1959
Ramseyer, Urs The Art and Culture of Bali Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 1977
Reichele, Natasha Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, CA., 2010
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