Betawi people

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For other uses, see Betawi (disambiguation).
Betawi people
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Total population
5 million (2000 census)
Regions with significant populations
Jakarta: 2.3 million
Betawi, Indonesian
Sunni Islam (predominantly), Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese, Malay, Tionghoa, Ambonese

The Betawi (Orang Betawi in Indonesian language meaning "people of Batavia"; also called Betokaw in Betawi slang) are the descendants of the people living around Batavia (the colonial name for Jakarta) from around the 17th century.[1] The Betawis are a creole ethnic group from various parts of Indonesia, such as Malay, Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese, Minangkabau, Bugis, Makassar, and Ambonese, also include foreign ethnic groups such as Mardijker, Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, Chinese and Indian, who was originally brought to or attracted to Batavia to meet labour needs. They have a culture and language distinct from the surrounding Sundanese and Javanese. The Betawis are known for their music, traditions, food, egalitarianism, and being Muslim.


The name "Betawi" is derived from Batavia, the old colonial name of Jakarta.


The Betawi language is a Malay-based creole language. It is closely related to Malay. Betawi vocabulary has large amount of Hokkien Chinese, Arabic, and Dutch loanwords. Today Betawi dialect is a popular informal language in Indonesia and used as the base of Indonesian accent.


Betawi people are overwhelmingly Muslims. Islamic teachings and traditions are well embedded and alive in their culture and social system. Ulama (also called kyai or haji) hold important position in Betawi society. However, there is a small enclave of Christian Betawi in Tugu area, North Jakarta who are descendants of Mardijker Portuguese-speaking people, and also in Kampung Sawah, located on the outskirt of Jakarta. There's also a community of former slaves who was Christianized around old Depok.


Ondel-Ondel Betawi

The artform of the Betawi people demonstrate the influences experienced by them throughout their history. The Ondel-ondel large bamboo masked-puppet is similar to Chinese, Balinese and Sundanese artform of masked dance. The traditional wedding dress of Betawi displays Chinese influence in bride's costume and Arabian influences in groom's costume. The dances costumes shows Chinese and European influences, while the movements such as Yapong dance is derived from Sundanese Jaipongan dance with a hint of Chinese style. Another dance is Topeng Betawi dance. Betawi people borrowed Chinese culture of firecrackers during wedding, circumcisions or any celebrative events. The Gambang kromong and Tanjidor, as well as Keroncong Kemayoran music is derived from the kroncong music of Portuguese Mardijker people of Tugu area, North Jakarta. The tradition of bringing roti buaya (crocodile bread) during wedding is probably a European custom. Pencak Silat is a popular martial art of Betawi people.

Gambang Kromong.


Main article: Betawi cuisine

As a thriving port city, the cuisine of Betawi reflects the foreign culinary traditions that has been influenced the inhabitant of Jakarta for centuries. Betawi cuisine is heavily influenced by Peranakan Cuisine of Chinese Indonesian, Malay cuisine, neighboring Sundanese and Javanese cuisine, to Indian, Arabic and European colonial. Betawi people have several popular cuisines, such as soto betawi, soto kaki, nasi uduk, kerak telor, nasi ulam, asinan, ketoprak, rujak, and gado-gado Betawi.

Notable Betawi people[edit]

Fauzi Bowo, former governor of Jakarta.


  1. ^ No Money, No Honey: A study of street traders and prostitutes in Jakarta by Alison Murray. Oxford University Press, 1992. Glossary page xi


  • Castles, Lance The Ethnic Profile of Jakarta, Indonesia vol. I, Ithaca: Cornell University April 1967
  • Guinness, Patrick The attitudes and values of Betawi Fringe Dwellers in Djakarta, Berita Antropologi 8 (September), 1972, pp. 78–159
  • Knoerr, Jacqueline Im Spannungsfeld von Traditionalität und Modernität: Die Orang Betawi und Betawi-ness in Jakarta, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 128 (2), 2002, pp. 203–221
  • Knoerr, Jacqueline Kreolität und postkoloniale Gesellschaft. Integration und Differenzierung in Jakarta, Frankfurt & New York: Campus Verlag, 2007
  • Saidi, Ridwan. Profil Orang Betawi: Asal Muasal, Kebudayaan, dan Adat Istiadatnya
  • Shahab, Yasmine (ed.), Betawi dalam Perspektif Kontemporer: Perkembangan, Potensi, dan Tantangannya, Jakarta: LKB, 1997
  • Wijaya, Hussein (ed.), Seni Budaya Betawi. Pralokarya Penggalian Dan Pengem¬bangannya, Jakarta: PT Dunia Pustaka Jaya, 1976