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Home » LOMBOK, alluring island East of Bali » The Sade Village, the Sasak of Lombok and their Way of Life

The Sade Village, the Sasak of Lombok and their Way of Life

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The Sasak are the indigenous people of the island of Lombok. Like many ethnic groups in Indonesia, they belong to the Austronesians who migrated from mainland Asia some 5,000 years BC to populate South East Asia all the way to the South Pacific Islands. Today 85% of the Lombok population is Sasak. Although Bali has greatly influenced Lombok, yet unlike in Hindu Bali, most Sasak embrace Islam. 

A distinct feature of religion here is what is known as Wektu Telu, a syncretic belief of Islam intertwined with elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, and ancient traditional beliefs, unique to Lombok.  Many Sasak have, nonetheless, also come to embrace the Wektu Lima, or the mainstream Islamic obligatory five time prayers in a day.

There is also a small minority whose faith is called Bodha, a syncretic belief of animism and Buddhism.  Nonetheless, despite differences in religious beliefs, the Sasak live in harmony among themselves.

The most ancient Sasak village is the village of Bayan, near the foot of Mt. Rinjani, which is the stronghold of the Wektu Telu, but most frequented by visitors are the villages of Sade and Rembitan, close to Mataram. Here villagers disregard their modernising surroundings and continue to live in the old tradition.

Houses in Sade are built in rows. But most prominent and typical to Lombok is the rice barn or “lumbung”, which stands raised on four wooden piles with a bonnet-shaped roof made of alang-alang or elephant grass. Rice is stored through a raised window. The beruga or the ceremonial hall stands on six pillars, its roof is also covered with elephant grass, providing coolness in hot weather and warmth during cooler nights.  

Houses or bale are divided into 3 sections, the kitchen, sleeping quarters and the living room.

 Dance and Drama on Lombok are intricately tied to cultural identity. Although the Sasak are deeply influenced by Bali and Java, yet the blend of cultures remain uniquely Lombok’s.

Among the dances performed during ceremonies, the kendang belek is most popular, where two musicians play on single large drums while taking dramatic poses confronting each other. Another is the batek baris, displaying a military procession usually performed in the town of Lingsar, wearing old Dutch army constumes and carrying wooden rifles.

In the Islamic regions, the gamelan rebana using drums was developed, doing away with the bronze gamelan, yet retaining the original repertoire imitating the bronze gamelan instruments. Gamelan instruments, however, are still widely used across the island.  

At Bayan, once a year a celebration of the ancient thatched mosque, called Bayan Beleq is held

Another event worth watching is the Peresehan, a local tradition involving a fight between two men using long rattan staves and small rectangular shields made from cow hide. In the old days, blood used to flow freely, however, today the performance is done mostly for tourists.

While annually, around February, the Bau Nyale celebrations are held with the appearance of seaworms along the shores of Lombok, believed to bring luck and prosperity.

The Sasak are predominantly farmers cultivating rice fields, while their women are adept at weaving, producing the beautiful Lombok ikat cloths.

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Oct 2015

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The Sade Village, the Sasak of Lombok and their Way of Life

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