LIKE A CONTINUAL UNDER-SEA BALLET, the pulse of life in Bali moves with a measured rhythm reminiscent of the sway of marine plants and the flowing motion of octopus and jellyfish under the sweep of a submarine current. There is a similar correlation of the elegant and decorative people with the clear-cut, extravagant vegetation; of their simple and sensitive temperament with the fertile land.
No other race gives the impression of living in such close touch with nature, creates such a complete feeling of harmony between the people and the surroundings. The slender Balinese bodies are as much a part of the landscape as the palms and the breadfruit trees, and their smooth skins have the same tone as the earth and as the brown rivers where they bathe; a general colour scheme of greens, grays, and ocher's, relieved here and there by bright-coloured sashes and tropical flowers. The Balinese belong in their environment in the same way that a bumming-bird or an orchid belongs in a Central American jungle, or a steel-worker belongs in the grime of Pittsburgh. It was depressing to watch our Balinese friends transplanted to the Paris Fair. They were cold and miserable there in the middle of the summer, shivering in heavy overcoats or wrapped in blankets like red Indians, but they were transformed into normal, beautiful Balinese as soon as they returned from their unhappy experience.
free of excessive clothing, the Balinese have small but well-developed
bodies, with a peculiar anatomical structure of simple, solid masses reminiscent
of Egyptian and Mycenaean sculptures: wide shoulders tapering down in
unbroken lines to flexible waists and narrow hips; strong backs, small
heads, and firm full breasts. Their slender arms and long legs end in
delicate hands and feet, kept skilful and alive by functional use and
dance training. Their faces have well-balanced - features, expressive
The Beach in Sanur eyes, small noses, and full mouths, and their hair
is thick and glossy. Because they are tanned by the sun, their golden-brown
skin appears generally darker than it really is, and when seen at a distance,
people bathing are considerably whiter around their middles, where the
skin is usually covered by clothes, giving the impression that they wear
light-coloured pants. Watching a crowd of semi-nude Balinese of all ages,
one cannot help wondering what the comparison would be should men and
women of our cities suddenly appear in the streets nude above the waist.
All the Balinese boys chased the monkey, but it let them come to within a few feet of it and then leaped out of reach onto the roof or a tree. The only one who did not join in the chase was Rapung, our teacher of Balinese, because he was a newcomer to the household and the monkey snarled and sprung at him every time Rapung passed near where it was tied: they bated each other. When it became plain that the monkey could not be captured so easily, one of the boys had the bright idea of having everybody pretend to attack Rapung, imitating the monkey, making faces, and squealing at him. Soon the monkey forgot that be himself was persecuted and joined in the attack, but when he was most aggressive someone grabbed him.
The pride of the Balinese has not permitted the development of one of the great professions of the East: there are no beggars in Bali. But tourists who lure boys and girls with dimes to take their pictures now threaten this unique distinction, and lately, in places frequented by tourists, people are beginning to ask for money as a return for a service. Ordinarily even a child would be scolded and shamed by anyone who heard him ask something from a stranger. A gift must be reciprocated and we were often embarrassed by the return presents of our poor neighbors. We gave Ketut Adi, a little dancer of eight, a scarf of no great value; one day soon after she came to us with a basket of rice, some eggs, and a live chicken, carried by her mother because the load was too great for her. Children of the neighborhood that Rose had treated for infected wounds always came back with presents of fruit, cakes, or rice which they handed casually to our house-boy, never mentioning them to us, as if they wanted to avoid making a demonstration of their generosity. Even children have a strong sense of pride.
The aristocracy is despotic and arrogant, but the ordinary people, although used to acknowledging the superiority of their masters, are simple and natural in an unservile and unsubmissive way. By the threat of passive disobedience and boycott they kept the princes from overstepping their bounds. Europeans complain that the Balinese make bad servants; they are too free, too frank, and do not respond to the insolent manner that the white man has adopted as " the only way to deal with natives." Their moral code consists in maintaining their traditional behavior, observing their duties towards their fellow villagers and paying due respect to the local feudal princes. Among themselves they are kind and just, avoiding unnecessary quarrels and solving their disputes by the simplest and most direct methods. .1 The villages are organized into compact boards or councils, independent of other villages. Every married man - that is, every grown man - is a member of the council and is morally and physically obliged to co-operate for the welfare of the community.
A man is assisted by his neighbors in every task he cannot perform alone; they help him willingly and as a matter of duty, not expecting any reward other than the knowledge that, were they in his case, he would help in the same manner. In this way paid labors and the relation of boss to coolie are reduced to a minimum in Bali. Since the world of a Balinese is his community, be is anxious to prove his worth, for his own welfare is in direct relation to his social behaviors and his communal standing. Moral sanctions are regarded 2S stronger than physical punishment, and no one will risk the dreaded punishment of exile, from the village, when a man is publicly declared " dead " to his community. Once " thrown away," he cannot be admitted into another of the co-operative villages, so no misfortune could be greater to the Balinese than public disgrace. This makes of every village a closely unified organism in which the communal policy is harmony and co-operation - a system that works to every body's advantage.
By their ingenuity and constant activity they have raised their main occupation, the cultivation of rice, to levels unsurpassed by other rice-growing nations. Being essentially agriculturists, they are not interested in navigation and trade; living the easy life of the tropics, they are satisfied and well fed. The majority works the land for themselves, so they have not yet become wage earners and have enough freedom and leisure left to dedicate to spiritual relaxation. They are extraordinarily fond of music, poetry, and dancing, which have produced a remarkable theatre. Their culture, unlike that of their cultural ancestors, the Javanese, is not yet in frank declin6. Even the common people are better agriculturists, better craftsmen and artists than the average Javanese. The Balinese are by no means a primitive people.
Moreover, unlike the natives of the South Seas and similar races under white domination, the Balinese are not a dying people; far from that, in the last ten years a constant increase in the birth rate has been recorded. The 1930 census gave the population of Bali as 1,148,000 people, or about 500 to the square mile, an enormous figure when compared with the 41 per square mile of the United States. This includes the foreign population: 7,1935 Chinese, 1,544 Arabs and other Mohammedans, and 411 Europeans, of which only a small percentage are of pure European stock, the rest being Eurasians and certain Balinese, Javanese, Chinese, and Japanese who are given equal standing with Europeans by a decree making them " Staatsblad European."
interested in knowing something of the racial origins of the Balinese,
it may be added that they are by no means a pure race, but a complicated
mixture of the native aborigines, with superimposed layers of higher cultures
of various types.' The Balinese are descendants of a pure " Indonesian
" race mixed with the Hindus of Central and East Java, who were them
selves Indonesians of Hindu culture, with Indian and Chinese blood. To
these mixtures are further added traces of the Polynesian and Melanesian,
the result being a picturesque variety of types among the Balinese: from
the noble Hindu and Northern Chinese, to the Malay-Javanese, Polynesian,
and even Papuan. While some have sleek hair, high nose bridges, and cream-yellow
skins, some are dark and curly haired like South Sea Islanders. Some have
large almond eyes, often with the " Mongoloid fold, convex noses,
and. fine mouths; others have the concave, flat, broad
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