Have you ever wondered where the name Bali came from? As with many toponyms on the map of our planet, the situation here is extremely ambiguous: scientists are actively arguing and putting forward dozens of theories about the origin of the name. We have selected for you the most interesting ones, we will talk about them today.

Briefly about the history of Bali

• In the Paleolithic and Mesolithic eras, Bali was inhabited by a distant ancestor of man - Homo erectus

• In 3000 BC, the island remained inhabited, and rice cultivation technologies had already appeared here

• In the eighth century BC, Indian culture penetrated Bali, including Buddhism and Hinduism (keep this in mind - this information will definitely come in handy below when we talk about theories about the origin of the name)

• In the 14th - early 19th century, the Javanese Majapahit dynasty ruled in Bali, which even more actively began to introduce Hindu religion and art on the island

• At the end of the 19th century, the Netherlands annexed the island to their colony of Indonesia and ruled it until the middle of the 20th century. During this period, Europeans actively studied the island and its culture.

• After the end of World War II, Bali became part of an independent Indonesia. And what happened to the island further, you most likely know very well: an unprecedented influx of tourists, large-scale construction projects and an amazing rise of the island

This short background on the history of the island will help us better understand the Balinese culture, which is probably the key to unraveling the mystery of the island's name.

Let's look at all the existing hypotheses, and start with the most obvious.

The most obvious theory: the word Bali came from Sanskrit

The island of Bali is located in an amazing place in terms of geography - the Pacific ring of fire. The thing is that almost 90% of all volcanoes on earth are located in this place!

The most powerful volcano in Bali is Agung. Its natural beauty, the earthquakes and eruptions that took place around it in ancient times, could not but inspire the ancient inhabitants of Bali. The ancient Balinese idolized the volcano and worshiped its spirits.

That is why some scientists suggest that the name Bali comes from the word "Bali" or "Bala" from Sanskrit (by the way, the language of the ancient Indians, whose culture actively penetrated the island from time immemorial), which means "strength" or "power." The name refers to powerful spirits and natural forces that control the natural phenomena of the island.

Another translation of the word "Bali" in Sanskrit is a sacrificial offering. The island has been historically known for its religious practices and sacrifices. And this could not but be noticed by the migrants who came from India. Perhaps the ancient Balinese, who were in contact with Sanskrit, decided to call the island with these words, embodying the power of the island and its deities, in order to appease them.

However, it is worth noting that this theory is not final and continues to cause debate among researchers. Place names and geographic features often have multiple historical and cultural layers, and the origin of the island's name Bali can be more complex and varied than just a reference to the Sanskrit word "Bali".

Mythological theories: what myths speak about the origin of the name Bali?

The myth of brothers who fought demons

This myth tells of two brothers who were the sons of the spirit demon Jar. They possessed extraordinary strength and courage and fought various evil forces and demons to protect their island. According to one version of the myth, they also competed for the right to rule the island, and the name "Bali" came from the name of one of them.

The myth of the Dew Loire Batu Bolong

This myth is associated with the temple of Du Loire Batu Bolong, which is located on a rock that protrudes into the ocean. According to this myth, the stone on this rock was used by the locals to protect them from sea spirits and floods. The name "Bali" may be derived from the word "Batu Bolong", which means "stone that breaks through the sea", indicating the strength of this place in protecting the island.

Surprisingly, in both myths, the motive of the fight against evil forces can be traced. Perhaps they were the personification of the evil that the ancient Balinese feared: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, rice crop failures, and the like.

And this brings us back to Sanskrit and its word "Bali", which is directly related to the local religion and culture.

Historical theories: sources talking about the history of the origin of the name

Historical sources describing the origin of the name of the island of Bali have one interesting feature: they combine mythological elements with real historical events. Here are a few key sources and historical accounts of the origin of the island's name Bali.

Sources of Medieval Travelers and Traders

Previously, the island of Bali was known as "Bally" or "Bally" among European and Asian traders and travelers who visited during the Middle Ages. These first records may be one of the first references to the island's name.

Ancient indian texts

Some researchers argue that the name "Bali" may be related to the ancient Indian epic poem "Ramayana", which mentions a character named Bali (or Vali), who ruled the ancient kingdom of Kishkinda. This name may have influenced the name of the island.

Legends and myths of local residents

Apart from mythological stories, as described earlier, the Balinese themselves have their own versions and legends about the origin of the name of the island. These stories are passed down from generation to generation and include elements of history, mythology and beliefs. But they have an indirect connection with the real origin of the name.

Archaeological research

Archaeological excavations and finds on the island help to find important information about the historical events and cultural evolution of the island. Archaeologists have found many clay tablets in Sanskrit and more modern versions of the Indian language, where the island of Bali was at least mentioned.

Bali is an island with amazing nature, culture and history. You can find more interesting facts about the island in our other articles. But the most affordable housing in Bali can be found in Baliving.
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