John Tyman's
Portal Six : 
Ancient and Modern
Bali : Ancient and Modern

1. Physical and Cultural Environments :  001-008

2. The Presenter’s Host Family : 009-015

3. Village Layouts : 016-026

4. Host Family’s House and Garden : 027-042

5. Daily Life : 043-055

6. Village Crafts : 056-074

7. Entertainment : 075-087

8. Religious Beliefs and Temples : 088-103

9. Festivals : 104-118

10. Death and Cremation : 119-123

11. Agricultural Land Use : 124-131

12. Rice Growing : 132-146

13. Other Agricultural Activities :  147- 152

14.  Processes of Change : 153-164
Introduction to Bali

This study of a traditional lifestyle under threat is, at one and the same time, one of the most dated and the most recent of the studies of "Cultures in Context" posted on the World Wide Web. This is because all of the images were collected during a short holiday in 1984. They were used during my visits to schools, but were not scanned for internet use till recently.

 In recent years Bali has sometimes received negative treatment in news broadcasts. Ash clouds from its volcanoes have shut down the airport. People carrying drugs have been executed (by the Indonesian government). And in the minds of many travellers there remains still the memory of the “Bali Bombings” of 2002 … in the tourist district of Kuta, when 202 people were killed and 209 injured. And while these deaths were still fresh in the minds of survivors, a further 20 people were killed and more than a hundred injured in suicide bomb attacks in 2005. Such atrocities had nothing whatever to do with the traditional values of Bali, but were the work of Islamic terrorists from elsewhere in Indonesia. The number of tourists dropped significantly in the following years but soon recovered, and includes a rapidly expanding group from China.

 In recent decades Bali has received an influx of Muslims from other parts of Indonesia. In the year 2000 scarcely more than 10% of the island’s permanent population were Muslims. By 2010 it was 15%, and in some districts much higher. Such a change is bound to influence the way of life of Bali’s people, and generate tensions between Hindu and Muslim residents.

 The economy depends almost wholly on tourism, and tourist numbers are highly sensitive to social unrest. Muslims are, nevertheless, the biggest single category of visitors to the island, and the great Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr is Bali's busiest time, with visitors from Java and elsewhere jamming the island's accommodation. In addition, a lot of management expertise and investment in tourist infrastructure is in the hands of Muslims … and the profits accordingly moved off-shore.

 In 1984 when I was there such developments would have been unimaginable.  There were sizeable hotels and night clubs at beach resorts, but inland from the coast the day-to-day life of the people had much in common still with the values and practices of their ancestors. Today the greatest threat to their traditional life style is not the number of Muslim residents but the massive influx of tourists, and the alien practices of the five-star world, and a totally different value system … highlighted now by the development of a “Trump” golf course and six star resort overlooking one of Bali’s holiest shrines … Tanah Lot.

 I personally have no wish to return to Bali but I’m sure it is still worth a visit.

Cultures in Context Contents


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