History

Bali was inhabited by around 2000 BC by Austronesian peoples who migrated originally from Taiwan through Maritime Southeast Asia. Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are thus closely related to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Oceania.

Stone tools dating from this time have been found near the village of Cekik in the island’s west. In ancient Bali, nine Hindu sects existed, namely PasupataBhairawaSiwa ShidantaWaisnawaBodhaBrahmaResiSora, and Ganapatya. Each sect revered a specific deity as its personal Godhead.

Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian, Chinese, and particularly Hindu culture, beginning around the 1st century AD. The name Bali Dwipa (“Bali island”) has been discovered from various inscriptions, including the Blanjong pillar inscription written by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 914 AD and mentioning “Walidwipa“.

It was during this time that the complex irrigation system Subak was developed to grow rice. Some religious and cultural traditions still in existence today can be traced back to this period. The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. When the empire declined, there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests, and musicians from Java to Bali in the 15th century.

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