BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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MODERN BALI AND THE FUTURE

Tin roofs also, it is rumoured, were ordered to replace the thatched ones because an official became deeply concerned about the possibility of fires caused by " exploding automobiles." Only three years ago the women of Den Pasar went to market proudly uncovered to the waist, but the princes' wives wore the ugly blouses and soon they became the dictate of fashion. In Den Pasar they now regard those who go habitually with uncovered breasts as " crude mountain people." Young men are growing contemptuous of the simple batik kain and headcloth of their forefathers.

After dark, in Buleleng and Den Pasar, the equipment of the smart young man-about-town consists of a set of striped pyjamas, a Mohammedan skull-cap, sandals, a bicycle, and a flashlight, although he may still wear flowers behind his car to stroll on the main street among the food-vendors, the flourishing prostitutes and procurors that haunt the streets around the hotels.

Undoubtedly Bali will soon enough be " spoiled " for those fastidious travellers who abhor all that which they bring with them. No longer will the curious Balinese of the remote mountain villages, still unaccustomed to the sight of whites, crowd around their cars to stare silently at the " exotic " long-nosed, yellow-haired foreigners in their midst.

But even when all the Balinese will have learned to wear shirts, to beg, lie, steal, and prostitute themselves to satisfy new needs, the tourists will continue to come to Bali to see the sights, snapping pictures frantically, dashing from temple to temple, back to the hotel for meals, and on to watch rites and dances staged for them. The Balinese will be, to the tourists, guides, chauffeurs, and bellboys to be tipped, dancers on salary, curio-dealers, and tropical beauties to be photographed blouseless for a fee.

The younger generation is rapidly being cut off from a cultural environment which they have learned to regard as below them, considering their parents, formerly their models of behaviour, as rude peasants who have not gone to school. This, however, is not the fault of Hollywood. To Bali goes the distinction of being totally uninterested in the movies. Over a decade ago an enterprising Armenian brought the first movies to the island.

At first he cleaned up, all the Balinese had to see the miracle; but, not used to paying for entertainment, they soon grew bored with something they could not understand and the movies were a failure. Today there are two small primitive movie houses, one in Buleleng and one in Den Pasar, that give Sunday shows of films often twenty-five years old, patronized chiefly by the foreign population. Chaplin may be a favourite of even the Eskimos, but to the Balinese who saw him in the flesh he was simply the funny man who came to Bali with his brother and who, after watching a Balinese play, took the stage and performed for them a hilarious parody of their dances.

In Bali the exalted title of Teacher, Guru, is the name of one of their highest gods and is the most respectful way of addressing one's father. The old-fashioned teachers were the reservoirs of the science and poetry of Balinese culture, but those young Balinese who have gone to lava to become teachers for the Western-style Government schools have returned convinced that what they learned in Java is the essence of knowledge and progress. They have become conscious of the contempt of Europeans for the native cultures and have been influenced to believe that the philosophy, arts and habits of their country are signs of peasant backwardness.

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