The Bali Islands
Few people realise that Bali Island has seven islands of its own. Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Dua, Nusa Menjangan and Thanah Lot. The two closest islands to Bali and perhaps most surprising are located in the Benoa area and the now famous Bali location is known as Nusa Dua. (In Bahasa Indonesia ‘Nusa’ means island and ‘Dua’ means two.
Bali’s three major islands are located in the south east of Bali in the Bandung Strait. Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are sixteen miles from Bali and a short boat ride from Sanur, approximately thirty five minutes by boat. The three islands once formed their own kingdom centered on Nusa Penida and it is believed the realm was separate from the main rule of the Balinese at some stage of history.
However, it is also speculated the kingdom had connections with the South of Bali around the Bukit area. There are a number of temples in the area that are positioned and unified with the major temple on Nusa Penida, Dalem Peed.
The last king of the island realm was killed in the last quarter of the seventeenth century and eventually the island population was subjugated by the Balinese.
The islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida were then transformed into a penal colony and the Balinese often shipped major criminals and political activists to the islands shores.
The isolation of the islands then brought about shift in the traditions and culture of the inhabitants and eventually they began to cultivate their own unique customs and ceremonies.
It is also believed that during this period a powerful black magic was developed and practiced by the islanders.
Word of this powerful magic soon reached the main island and overtime the people inhabiting the three islands came to be viewed with a mixture of trepidation and religious reverence.
Due to this fear the rulers of Bali soon stopped shipping their prisoners and they stopped sending their boats to the islands.
Eventually the islanders were left alone by the rulers of Bali and they were allowed to govern the three islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida by themselves.
Contradictory to this legend however, to this day the people of the island’s relate a different history in their temples.
They believe that only the best of the Balinese population were sent to the islands as a blessing for their good deed’s.
They also tell how they only reunited with the rest of Bali when they felt they had earned their presence and the gifts of magic that had been bestowed upon them by their gods. They believe this was achieved when the people of mainland Bali proved themselves pure of heart and worthy of their grace.
Perhaps we will never know who is recounting the more accurate history and maybe like most legends the truth is a mixture of both. But the people of Bali were not the only ones who regarded the population of the three island’s with awe, consternation and fear.
Dutch maps and ancient navigation charts of the time are said to show the three islands marked with a skull and crossbones symbol.
This was done to warn sailors that under no circumstances should they harbor their ships close to the shores of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Ships that were harbored too close were believed to have been boarded and sunk and their crews were never heard of or seen alive again.
There are some that speculate they were taken to the islands as prisoners and then they were marched off the high cliffs and into the broiling ocean below. Yet there are others who say they were the first tourists to the islands, and once they realized how beautiful they were, they decided they were never going back.
Body Painting: redsvn-dqd-body-painting-ii-22
Mask Picture: Pinterest.