home > the history of bali > european era > mads lange >

Roles of Lange -
Lange's Business -
  Mads Lange

The year was 1839. The Dutch had not yet succeeded in penetrating the fertile rice-growing districts of southern Bali, where a glorious and carefully guarded Hindu theater state had flourished undisturbed for a thousand years. In that year, after he had been run off the neighboring island of Lombok by an English rival, the flamboyant Danish merchant-adventurer Mads Johansen Lange (1806-56) set up a fortified 'factory' (trading post) on Bali's southern peninsula near the fishing village of Kuta.

The Balinese were eager for trade contacts, but at the time foreigners were strictly confined to the edge of the island in places like Kuta, a political freeport and no man's land where outcasts and opponents could find refuge. Lange's busy emporium became a vital link between inter-Asian trade and the inland Balinese economy.

Although his sojourn on Bali lasted only 10 years, it was to change Balinese history. Although a few Chinese and Buginese monsoon traders had settled near the main harbors of the island in the 19th century, mostly serving as intermediaries in the slave trade, Mads Lange established the first large trading post.

Surrounded by an imposing wall with an elaborate gateway, the huge complex contained warehouses, a 'pasar' (market), comfortable residences, and an open dining pavilion with a billiard table where foreign guests - merchants, ship captains, early tourists, Indologists, botanists, linguists - were sumptuously entertained. Lange lived there with his Chinese and Balinese concubines, his Dalmatian dogs, and his retinue of servants.

In the evenings cosmopolitan parties were held there, from where the Kuta villagers could hear Danish folk music and bawdy songs sung and played by Lange and his friends on flutes, violins, and a piano. Half the races of Europe were represented at the trader's hospitable table.

The Balinese gentry, saronged and parasoled, were also often invited to the gay parties and treated with the utmost care and deference. Relations with the dirt-poor Kuta villagers, however, were not as cordial. Once, when one of Lange's servants struck a Balinese, his factory was surrounded by a howling mob who wanted to burn it to the ground. Deftly, the trader bought the peace with 200 guilders and two balls of opium

Copyright 2012, Bali-Island.com Indonesia