A fascinating glimpse into the Bali of long ago is offered in a new book, Bali’s Early Days, covering the little known issues of widow sacrifice, slavery and the opium trade.
Although the Dutch, who did not fully control Bali until 1908, quickly abolished widow sacrifice in areas they controlled, slavery continued under the Dutch East Indies Company for many years as a means of recruiting soldiers for its colonial army.
Colonisation was financed through opium, which the Dutch controlled by establishing their own laws in order to monopolise the trade.
Historians generally credit this policy with producing the impetus among the Balinese to revolt against Dutch rule, a precursor of the great independence struggle after the end of World War II.
The book, by A.A. Gede Putra Agung and comprising three essays, will be launched at this year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. It is published by Saritaksu Editions.