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Denpasar

With a population over 100,000, and Bali's capital. It is the largest city on the island. It is also the capital of the Badung kabupaten (regency). Denpasar was the site of a suicidal battle of the rajas of Badung against the Dutch Militia in 1906. A large open square in the centre of the city, named Puputan Square, commemorates the event. It has grown quickly into a bustling little city full of general stores, art shops, restaurants, banks, and narrow streets, many of them one-way that can barely handle the crush of traffic.

Jalan Veteran and the little street between Puputan Square, behind the Bali Hotel are good places to buy handicrafts. Many shops close between 1 pm and 5 pm, but thereafter stay open until 8 pm. The population is mostly Balinese who speak a dialect of Indonesian written in Pallava script and practice a form of Islam strongly influenced by Hindu customs.

In addition, there are Arab and Indian merchants who deal mainly in textiles; Chinese operate most local businesses, and there are some Christians. The city's mechanized industries include food processing, papermaking and printing, and the manufacture and repair of machinery. Handicrafts include sandstone carving, weaving, coconut and bone carving, plaiting, basket weaving, and the production of gold and silver jewelry.

The Museum Bali, built by the Dutch government in 1932, presents an excellent survey of Balinese art from prehistoric times to the early 20th century. Items range from Neolithic stone implements, Metal Age sarcophagi, and Buddhist and Hindu bronzes through a fine variety of modern woodcarvings and paintings, to ceremonial masks and ukurs-human figures made from silver and Chinese coins used in death rituals. The architecture of the museum combines the two principal edifices in Bali: the temple and the palace. The split gate, the outer and inner courtyards and kulkul ("alarm drum") tower are characteristic of the temple. Opposite the kulkul stands an elevated pavilion once used in palaces as a lookout for a prince viewing his lands. The main building with its wide, pillared veranda resembles the Karangasem palaces of East Bali, where the porch once served ministers and authorities who had an audience with the raja. The windowless building on the right reflects the Tabanan palace style of West Bali, while the brick building on the left belongs to the northern palace style of Singaraja, making the museum a true monument to Bali.

A permanent exhibition of modern Balinese painting and wood carving may be seen at the Art Center at Abiankapas on the edge of the city. This grandiose complex includes a large dance arena and a sales room. Exhibitions, dances, and recitations of classical literature are organized by the center. A calendar of events is available. Visiting hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday.

A network of roads links Denpasar with Singaraja and other cities on the island. Denpasar also has an international airport. A branch of the National Archaeological Research Centre; the Bali Museum, built by the Dutch government in 1932 and containing specimens of Balinese art from prehistoric times to the early 20th century; and Universitas Udayana (founded 1962) are located at Denpasar. Sites of interest include the Puri (temple) Pemecutan, St. Joseph Church, Meredith Memorial Library, Pasar (market) Dadung, Kokar (Conservatory of Performing Arts), Academy of Indonesian Dances, and Abiankohas Art Centre. Pop. (1980) 261,263.

 

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