Baduy people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Baduy people
Badui / Kanekes
Baduy People at Seba Baduy event 2017.jpg
Baduy people at Seba Baduy event 2017.
Total population
26,000 (2010 census)[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
 Indonesia (Lebak Regency, Banten)
Sundanese language (Baduy language, Bantenese language), Indonesian
Sunda Wiwitan (99%)
Related ethnic groups
Bantenese, Sundanese

The Baduy (or Badui) are a traditional Bantenese community living in the southeastern part of the Indonesian province of Banten, near Rangkasbitung. They are considered an uncontacted people, a group who are almost completely isolated from the outside world.

Settlement area[edit]

View over the hills near the Badui kampung (village) Kaduketug, circa 1915-1926.

The Baduy region is geographically located at coordinates 6°27’27" – 6°30’0" south latitude and 108°3’9" – 106°4’55" east longitude.[3] Their population of 11,700 is centered at the foothill of Kendeng mountains at the Kanekes settlement, Leuwidamar district, Lebak Regency, Rangkasbitung, Banten with a distance of 40 km from Rangkasbitung. This region that is part of the Kendeng mountains with an elevation of 300–500 meters (975'-1,625') above sea level; consists of hilly and bumpy topography with sloppy surface that reaches up to an average of 45%, are volcanic soil (in the north), precipitate soil (in the center) and mixed soil (in the south). The average temperature is 20 °C. Their homeland in Banten, Java is contained in just 50 km2 (19 sq mi) of hilly forest area 120 km (75 mi) from Jakarta, Indonesia's capital. The three main settlements of the Kanekes people are Cikeusik, Cikertawana and Cibeo.[4]


Ethnically the Baduys belong to the Sundanese ethnic group. Their racial, physical and linguistic traits bear much resemblance to the rest of the Sundanese people; however, the difference is in their way of life. Baduy people resist foreign influences and vigorously preserve their ancient way of life, while modern Sundanese are more open to foreign influences and a majority are Muslims.

The Baduy are divided into two sub-groups; the Baduy Dalam (Inner Baduy), and the Baduy Luar (Outer Baduy). No foreigners were allowed to meet the Inner Baduy, though the Outer Baduy do foster some limited contacts with the outside world.


The word Baduy is a name given by outsiders to refer to this community of people, beginning from the Dutch East Indies observers that might have thought to equate them with the nomadic community of the Bedouin Arabs. Another possibility of the origin of the word Baduy may come from the term "Bedouin", although other sources claim the source is a name of a local river.[5] However, they themselves would prefer to be referred to as Urang Kanekes or Orang Kanekes (meaning, Kanekes people); which is based on the name of their territory, or a name that refers to the name of their village such as Urang Cibeo (meaning, Cibeo people).[6]


The Baduy speak a dialect derived from archaic Sundanese.[7] However, modern Sundanese and Javanese influences in their archaic dialect can be heard in their speech. In order to communicate with outsiders, they speak the Indonesian language to a degree of fluency, even though they do not undergo formal instruction of the language in schools. The Inner Kanekes people are illiterate, hence their customary, religious belief system and ancestral folktales are preserved in a form of oral tradition.


Formal education for the children of Baduy people is against their traditional customs. They reject government proposal to build educational facilities in the villages. Even up till today, since the Suharto era, governmental efforts to force them to change their lives and build modern schools in their territory, the Baduy still strongly opposed the government. As a result, very few Baduy people are able to read or write.[8]


Delegates of the Baduy people, circa 1915–1926.


According to belief system that they practice, Kanekes people regard themselves as descendants of Batara Cikal, one of the seven deities or gods that was sent to earth.[9] That origin is often associated with Adam, as the first man of mankind. In their belief system, Adam and his descendants, including the Kanekes people have been given the task to meditate or practice asceticism in order to preserve the harmony of the world.


The opinion of the mythological origins of the Kanekes people differs from the opinions of historians, who base their opinions by the synthesis of some historical evidence in the form of inscriptions, written records of Portuguese and Chinese sailors, as well as the 'Tatar Sunda' folklore which very few had remained in existence. Some people believe that the Baduy are the descendants of the aristocracy of the Sunda Kingdom of Pajajaran who lived near Batutulis in the hills around Bogor but there is no strong evidence to support this belief yet; their domestic architecture follows most closely the traditional Sundanese architecture. Pakuwan Pajajaran port known as Sunda Kelapa, was destroyed by invading Faletehan (Fatahillah) Muslim soldiers in 1579, Dayeuh Pakuan the capital of Pajajaran, was invaded by Banten Sultanate some time later. Before the establishment of the Banten Sultanate, the end of the western tip region in Java Island plays an important role for the Sunda Kingdom. Banten was a large trading port. Various types of vessel entered the Ciujung River, and most of them are used to transport crops that were harvested from the interior regions. Therefore, the ruler of the region, Prince Pucuk Umun considers that the sustainability of the river needs to be maintained. So an army of highly trained royal troops was commanded to guard and to manage the dense and hilly jungle areas in the region of Mount Kendeng. The existence of the troops with their specific duties to that area seems to be the pioneer of the Kanekes community which still inhabit the upstream of Ciujung River at Gunung Kendeng.[10] The disagreement of this theory led to the notion that in the past, their identity and historicity had been intentionally concealed, which was probably to protect the Kanekes community themselves from the attacks of the Sunda Kingdom of Pajajaran's enemies.

Van Tricht, a doctor who had done medical research in 1928, denied the theory. According to him, the Kanekes people are natives of the region who have strong resistance to external influences.[11] The Kanekes people themselves also refuse to acknowledge that they are from the fugitives of Pajajaran, the capital of the Kingdom of Sunda. According to Danasasmita and Djatisunda, the Baduy people are local to the settlements that are officially mandated (as sacred region) by the king because the people are obliged to preserve the kabuyutan (ancestral or ancestral worship), are neither Hindu or Buddhist.[12] The ancestral worship in this area is known as Kabuyutan Jati Sunda or Sunda Asli or Sunda Wiwitan (wiwitan = original, origin, principal, native). Therefore, their ethnic religion was also given the name of Sunda Wiwitan.

Another theory suggests that they originate in northern Banten; pockets of people in the northern hills still speak the archaic dialect of Sunda that the Baduy use.

Religion and beliefs[edit]

An illustration of a Baduy man playing a calung musical instrument by Jannes Theodorus Bik, circa 1816–1846.

The religion of the Baduy is known as Agama Sunda Wiwitan, an ancestral teaching that is rooted in ancestral worship and honoring or worshiping spirits of natural forces (animism). According to kokolot (elder) of Cikeusik village, Kanekes people is not adherent of Hinduism or Buddhism, they follow animism, the belief that venerated and worshiped the spirit of ancestors. However, in its development this faith is influenced and incorporated Hindu, and to some extent, Islamic elements.[13]

The form of respect for the spirit of the natural forces is carried out through the attitude of guarding and preserving the natural environment such as the mountains, hills, valleys, forests, gardens, springs, rivers, and all the ecosystems within them; and as well as giving their highest gratitude to nature, by treating and protecting the jungle as part of an effort to maintain the balance of the universe. The core of this belief is shown by the existence of pikukuh or the absolute customary provisions that is practiced in the daily lives of the Kanekes people.[6] The most important principle from the Kanekes people's pukukuh (adherence) is the concept of "no changes of whatsoever", or the slightest change possible: Lojor heunteu beunang dipotong, pèndèk heunteu beunang disambung (meaning "What's long cannot be cut (to shorten), and what's short cannot be attached (to lengthen)").[14]

The Baduy also observe many mystical taboos. They are forbidden to kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, get drunk, eat food at night, take any form of conveyance, wear flowers or perfumes, accept gold or silver, touch money, or cut their hair. In agriculture, the form of pukukuh is by not changing the contour of the land for the fields,[15] so much so that the way of farming is very simple, not cultivate the land with plowing or make any terracing, but only with hoe-farming method, that is with a sharpened bamboo. In construction of houses, the contouring of the soil surface are also left as is, therefore the poles of the Kanekes house are often not the same length.[15] Words and actions of the Baduy people are deemed as honest, innocent, without beating around the bush, and even in trade they do not bargain. Other taboos relate to defending Baduy lands against invasion: they may not grow sawah (wet rice), use fertilizers, raise cash crops, use modern tools for working ladang soil, or keep large domestic animals.

The most important religious object for the Kanekes people is the Arca Domas, where its location is kept secret and is considered the most sacred. The Kanekes people visit the site to worship once a year in the month of Kalima; which in 2003, that month coincided with July. Only Pu'un or the highest customary chairman and several elected members of the community will follow the entourage to worship. Rain water is stored in a mortar container in the Arca Domas complex. If the rain water in the mortar container is found to be clear at the time of worship, then it is a sign for the Kanekes people that there will be plenty of rain in that year, and the harvest will be bountiful. Conversely, if the mortar container is dry or water is turbid, then it is a sign of crop failure.[16]

A certain amount of Islamic influence has also penetrated into the religion of a few of the Baduy Luar in recent years (especially in Cicakal Girang village), with some original ideas thrown in for good measure. The ultimate authority is vested in Gusti Nu Maha Suci, who according to the Baduy sent Adam into the world to lead the life of a Baduy.

There is evidence that they were originally influenced by Hinduism, but retain much of their native animism ancestral veneration beliefs. They have adopted this many centuries before foreign influence including Arab (Islam), European (Christianity) etc. However, due to lack of interaction with the outside world, their religion is more related to Kejawen Animism, though they still retain many elements of Hindu–Buddhist religion influences, like the terms they use to define things and objects, and the rituals in their religious activities. For some, in relation to the persistence of their people, the indigenous beliefs of the Kanekes people reflect the religious beliefs of Sundanese people in general before the arrival of Islam.

Social classes[edit]

An old Kanekes lady carrying firewood.

The Kanekes people have a shared history with the Sundanese people. Their physical appearance and language are similar to the general Sundanese people population. One of the differences is their beliefs and lifestyle. The Kanekes people isolate themselves from the outside world influences and strictly preserve their traditional lifestyle, while the Sundanese people are much more open to outside influences and majority of them embraces Islam.

Generally, the Baduy are divided into three groups, namely Tangtu, Panamping and Dangka.[17] The community of villages in which they live are considered mandalas, derived from the Hindu/Buddhist concept but referring in the Indonesian context to places where religion is the central aspect of life.

The first group, Tangtu or Kajeroan, also known as Baduy Dalam or Kanekes Dalam (meaning "Inner Kanekes") with population of about 400 consists of 40 families Kajeroan who live in the three villages of Cibeo, Cikertawana, and Cikeusik in Tanah Larangan (forbidden territory) where no stranger is permitted to spend the night.[18] They are probably the purest Baduy stock. A characteristic of the Kanekes Dalam people the color of their clothings are natural white and dark blue, as well as wearing a white headband. The Kanekes Dalam people follow the rigid buyut taboo system very strictly, (see Religion and Beliefs for more information about their taboos) and thus they have made very few contacts with the outside world as they are considered as "People of the sacred inner circle". The Kanekes Dalam people are the only one of these two major clans that have the Pu'un, the spiritual priest of the Baduy. The Pu'un are the only people that visit the most hallowed and sacred ground of the Baduy which lies on Gunung Kendeng, in a place called Arca Domas.[19] Unlike their Kanekes Luar counterpart, the Kanekes Dalams people are hardly influenced by Islam.

Some of the rules observed by the Kanekes Dalam people are such as:

  • No vehicles are allowed as a form of transportation.
  • No footwear is allowed.
  • The door of the house should face north or south (except the house of the Pu'un or the customary chairman).[15]
  • Usage of electronic devices is prohibited.
  • No modern clothing is allowed. Only black or white fabrics that are woven and sewn clothing are allowed.

The following group, Panamping also known as Baduy Luar or Kanekes Luar (meaning "Outer Kanekes")[20] make up the remainder of the Baduy population, living in 22 villages and acting as a barrier to stop visitors from entering the Sacred Inner circle. They do follow the rigid taboo system but not as strictly as the Kanekes Dalam, and they are more willing to accept modern influence into their daily lives.[20] For example, some Kanekes Luar people now proudly sport the colorful sarongs and shirts favored by their Sundanese neighbors. In the past the Baduy Luar people only wore their homespun blue-black cloth, and were forbidden to wear trousers. Other elements of civilization (toys, money, batteries) are rapidly infiltrating especially in the villages to the north, and it is no longer unusual for an Outer Baduy people to make a journey to Jakarta, or even to work outside as a hired hand during the rice planting and reaping seasons. Some even work in big towns and cities like Jakarta, Bogor and Bandung. Animal meat is eaten in some of the outer villages where dogs are trained for hunting, though animal husbandry is still forbidden.

Other reasons why there are Kanekes Dalam who have become Kanekes Luar includes:

  • They have broken the Kanekes Dalam customary law.
  • The desire to come out from the Kanekes Dalam community.
  • Intermarriage with other Kanekes Luar people.

Characteristics of the Kanekes Luar people:

  • They are familiar with technology such as electronic devices.
  • Construction of houses in the Kanekes Luar community that uses tools such as saw, hammer, nails and so on, which were previously prohibited in the Kanekes Dalam customs.
  • Traditional attire that is black or dark blue (for men) in color, which signifies impurity. Sometimes modern clothing like T-shirts and jeans is used.
  • The usage of modern home appliances, such as mattress, pillow, plastic or glass plates and cups.
  • They live outside of the Kanekes Dalam customary area.
  • A significant number of them have converted to Islam and have been influence by the outside world.

When the Kanekes Dalam and Kanekes Luar lives outside of the Kanekes customary region, therefore the Dangka or Kanekes Dangka are the ones that lived outside of the Kanekes customary region. At the moment, there are two remaining settlements, namely Padawaras (Cibengkung) and Sirahdayeuh (Cihadam). These Dangka settlements function as a buffer zone to the outside influences.[17]


Governing structure of the Baduy people.

The Kanekes community recognizes two governing systems; the national system, which is in accordance to the laws of Indonesia, and the customary system, which abides to the custom of the community. Both of the systems are combined or acculturated in such a way that there is no conflict. Nationalistically, the Kanekes people are led by a head of settlement who is referred to as jaro pamarentah under a district.[21] While customarily, the Kanekes people comes under the leadership of the highest head of the Kanekes customs, who is referred to as Pu'un.[22]

The highest customary leader in the Kanekes community that is called Pu'un can be found in three settlements, tangtu. Position is passed down through the generations, but not necessarily from father to his children, but it can also be other relatives.[23] The term in office of a Pu'un is not specified, instead it only depends on the basis of a person's ability to hold on to the position.


As it has always been the case for hundreds of years, the main livelihood of the Kanekes people are rice farming.[24] Apart from that they also earn extra income from selling the fruits they gather from the jungle such as durian and tamarind-plum, as well as wild honey.

External interactions[edit]

The Kanekes community, whom until now has strictly adhered their customs, is not an alienated, secluded, or isolated society from the development of the outside world. They are also fully aware of the establishment of the Sultanate of Banten which automatically annexed the Kanekes people into the kingdom's territory of power. As a sign of obedience / recognition to the authorities, Kanekes community routinely perform seba ceremony to the Sultanate of Banten.[6] Up til today, this ceremony is still being held once a year, in the form of delivering crops (rice, palawija (meaning, crops planted in dry season that requires less water),[25] fruits) to the Governor of Banten (formerly to the Governor of West Java), through the regent of Lebak Regency. In agriculture, the Kanekes Luar people interact closely with outsiders, in affairs such as leasing of land and laborers.

Trading in the past was done by barter system but now the common currency, the Indonesian rupiah is being used. The Kanekes people would sell fruits, honey and sugar palm through the middlemen. They would also buy other necessities that they do not produce from the market. Markets that are located outside the Kanekes customary region that the Kanekes people themselves would go to are such as Kroya, Cibengkung and Ciboleger markets.

Today, outsiders who visit the Kanekes customary region are increasing up to hundreds of people per visit; are usually teenagers from schools, college students, as well as other adult visitors. Visitors are welcomed, even for a one-night stay, provided that the visitors abide by the rules of the customs there. The customary rules includes taking of photos within the region of Kanekes Dalam is prohibited and using of soap or toothpaste in the river is not allowed.[26] However, the customary region of the Kanekes people remains forbidden to non-Indonesian foreigners. Several foreign journalists that have attempted to enter into the region have been denied entry.

During the time when work in the field is not too much, Kanekes people also love to wander into big cities that are around their territory with the condition that they would to have to walk. Generally they travel in small groups of 3 to 5 people, visiting the acquaintances who had previously visited the Kanekes people while selling honey and handicrafts. During such visits, they usually earn extra money to meet their necessities.

See also[edit]

  • Amish, a secluded society that refuses the use of modern technology


  1. ^ "Baduy, Leuwidamar in Indonesia". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  2. ^ Johan Iskandar & Budiawati S. Iskandar (October 2016). "Ethnoastronomy-The Baduy agricultural calendar and prediction of environmental perturbations" (PDF). BIODIVERSITAS Volume 17, Number 2. p. 696. ISSN 1412-033X. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  3. ^ R. Cecep Eka Permana (2001). Kesetaraan gender dalam adat inti jagat Baduy. Wedatama Widya Sastra. p. 15. ISBN 97-996-5304-5.
  4. ^ Yakob Sumarjo (2003). Simbol-simbol artefak budaya Sunda: tafsir-tafsir pantun Sunda, Volume 1. Kelir. p. 305. ISBN 97-997-7170-6.
  5. ^ "Sacred People". Time. 21 August 2000.
  6. ^ a b c Judistira Gama (1993). Koentjaraningrat (ed.). Masyarakat Baduy di Banten, dalam Masyarakat Terasing di Indonesia. Gramedia.
  7. ^ Frank M. LeBar & George N. Appell (1972). Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Andaman Islands, and Madagascar. Human Relations Area Files Press. p. 58. ISBN 08-753-6403-9.
  8. ^ Abdul Rahman Muhammad & Muhammad Fuad, ed. (1999). Reclaiming the Past: Essays on Cultural Transformation in Southeast Asia. ASEAN Committee on Cultural and Information. p. 46. ISBN 97-980-8061-0.
  9. ^ Reimar Schefold, P. Nas & Gaudenz Domenig, ed. (2008). Indonesian Houses: Survey of vernacular architecture in western Indonesia. KITLV Press. p. 555. ISBN 90-671-8305-9.
  10. ^ Kusnaka Adimihardja (2000). Orang Baduy di Banten Selatan: Manusia air pemelihara sungai. Jurnal Antropologi Indonesia, Th. XXIV, No. 61, Jan-Apr 2000. pp. 47–59.
  11. ^ Judistira Gama (1993). Koentjaraningrat (ed.). Masyarakat Baduy di Banten, dalam Masyarakat Terasing di Indonesia. Gramedia. p. 146.
  12. ^ Saleh Danasasmita & Anis Djatisunda (1986). Kehidupan masyarakat Kanekes. Bagian Proyek Penelitian dan Pengkajian Kebudayaan Sunda (Sundanologi), Direktorat Jendral Kebudayaan, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan. pp. 4–5. OCLC 14150846.
  13. ^ Achmad Pangeran Aria Djajadiningrat (1936). Herinneringen van Pangeran Aria Achmad Djajadiningrat. G. Kolff. pp. 11–12. OCLC 899039874.
  14. ^ Jodhi Yudono (18 March 2015). "Runtuhnya Benteng Moral Terakhir". KOMPAS. Retrieved 2017-09-27.
  15. ^ a b c R. Schefold & P. Nas (2014). Indonesian Houses: Volume 2: Survey of Vernacular Architecture in Western Indonesia, Volume 2. BRILL. p. 557. ISBN 90-042-5398-X.
  16. ^ R. Cecep Eka Permana (27 May 2003). "Arca Domas Baduy: Sebuah Referensi Arkeologi dalam Penafsiran Ruang Masyarakat Megalitik". Indonesia Archaeology On The Net. Archived from the original on 11 November 2005. Retrieved 2005-11-11.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  17. ^ a b R. Cecep Eka Permana (2001). Kesetaraan gender dalam adat inti jagat Baduy. Wedatama Widya Sastra. p. 19. ISBN 97-996-5304-5.
  18. ^ Toto Sucipto & Julianus Limbeng (2007). Siti Maria (ed.). Studi Tentang Religi Masyarakat Baduy di Desa Kanekes Provinsi Banten. Direktorat Jenderal Kebudayaan. pp. 28–29.
  19. ^ John Tondowidjojo (1992). Etnologi dan pastoral di Indonesia. Nusa Indah. p. 51. OCLC 29465487.
  20. ^ a b A. Suhandi Sam, Abdurachman, Ruswandi Zarkashih & Ahmad Yunus (1986). Tata kehidupan masyarakat Baduy di Propinsi Jawa Barat. Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Proyek Inventarisasi dan Dokumentasi Kebudayaan Daerah. p. 80.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Toto Sucipto & Julianus Limbeng (2007). Siti Maria (ed.). Studi Tentang Religi Masyarakat Baduy di Desa Kanekes Provinsi Banten. Direktorat Jenderal Kebudayaan. p. 36. OCLC 387740423.
  22. ^ Ibnu Qoyim Isma'il, ed. (2003). Agama & pandangan hidup: studi tentang 'local religion" di beberapa wilayah Indonesia : studi tentang Kaharingan di masyarakat Dayak, Kalimantan dan Sunda Wiwitan di masyarakat Badui, Banten. Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia, Puslit. Kemasyarakatan dan Kebudayaan. p. 155. ISBN 97-935-8412-2.
  23. ^ Khoon Choy Lee (1999). A Fragile Nation: The Indonesian Crisis. World Scientific. pp. 171–172. ISBN 98-102-4003-1.
  24. ^ Syafitri Hidayati, Nurul Iman Suansa, Samin & F Merlin Franco (October 2017). "Using Ethnotaxonomy to assess Traditional Knowledge and Language vitality: A case study with the Urang Kanekes (Baduy) of Banten, Indonesia" (PDF). Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. p. 1. Retrieved 2017-09-27.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ R. F. Ellen, ed. (2007). Modern Crises and Traditional Strategies: Local Ecological Knowledge in Island Southeast Asia. Berghahn Books. p. 122. ISBN 18-454-5312-3.
  26. ^ Bahtiar Rifa'i (2 October 2017). "Hal-hal yang Perlu Diperhatikan Sebelum Wisata ke Baduy". Detik Travel. Retrieved 2018-01-25.

External links[edit]