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Baduy people

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Baduy people
Urang Baduy
Urang Kanékés
Panamping (lit. 'Outer Baduy') women in Banten
Total population
11,620 (2015 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Indonesia (Lebak Regency, Banten)
Baduy, Bantenese, Indonesian
Inner: Sunda Wiwitan
Outer and Dangka: Islam, Christianity, others
Related ethnic groups
Bantenese • Sundanese

Baduy people (sometimes spelled as Badui or Kanekes) are an indigenous Sundanese ethnic group native to the southeastern part of Banten, specifically Lebak Regency, Banten, Indonesia.


The term baduy is a short form derived from baduyut in the Baduy language. It is a native Sundanesic term that refers to an endemic vine plant of western Java (Trichosanthes villosa), used as a herbal medicine since ancient times. As part of the Sundanese family, baduyut also bears the same meaning in Old and Modern Sundanese. It is likely that in ancient times, there was a river called Baduyut, as the term Cibaduyut (ᮎᮤᮘᮓᮥᮚᮥᮒ᮪) itself literally means "Baduyut River" in the Sundanese language, thus it is possible that this tribe was named after the river. The Baduy people sometimes prefer to be called Urang Kanekes (lit. "Kanekes people") or Urang Cibeo (lit. "Cibeo people") instead, as these are the names of their cultural regions or villages.[2]

There is also a theory suggesting that the word baduy was initially an exonym used by outsiders to refer to these tribal groups, stemming from the idea that the Dutch equated them with Bedouin Arabs.[3]


The Baduy are divided into three sub-groups:

  1. Tangtu (lit. "Inner Baduy"; Baduy Dalam (in Indonesian))
  2. Panamping (lit. "Outer Baduy"; Baduy Luar (in Indonesian))
  3. Dangka (lit. "Dangka Baduy"; Baduy Dangka (in Indonesian))

No foreigners are allowed to meet the Inner Baduy, though the Outer Baduy do foster some limited contacts with the outside world. Dangka Baduy have sustained contacts with the outside world and no longer live in the Kanekes area.[4]

Settlement area[edit]

View over the hills near the Badui village of Kaduketug, circa 1915–1926

The Baduy region is geographically located at 6°27’27" – 6°30’0" south and 108°3’9" – 106°4’55" east.[5] The Baduy population of 11,700 is centered at the foothills of the Kendeng mountains at the Kanekes settlement, Leuwidamar district, Lebak Regency, Banten, a distance of 40 km from Rangkasbitung. This region, part of the Kendeng mountains, with an elevation of 300–500 meters (975'-1,625') above sea level, consists of hilly topography with surfaces that reach up to an average of 45% slope, with volcanic (in the north), precipitate (in the center), and mixed soil (in the south). The average temperature is 20 °C. The Baduy homeland in 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.[6]


The native language of the Baduy people, Baduy, is most closely related and sometimes considered to be a dialect of Sundanese.[7] Native speakers are dispersed in regions around the Mount Kendeng, Rangkasbitung district of Lebak Regency, Pandeglang Regency, and Sukabumi, West Java. It is estimated that there are 11,620 speakers as of 2010.[1] In order to communicate with outsiders, the Baduy people tend to speak Sundanese proper and sometimes Indonesian to some degree of fluency.[citation needed] The Inner Baduy in Kanekes village are mostly illiterate, hence their customary, religious belief system and ancestral folk tales are preserved in a form of oral tradition.[citation needed]


Formal education for Baduy children is seen by Baduy people as a violation of their traditional customs, and they have so far refused the Indonesian government's proposals to build educational facilities in their villages. As a result, few Baduy people are educated or able to read or write.[8]


Delegates of the Baduy people, circa 1915–1926


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


The Kanekes origin story differs from the opinions of historians, who base their theories on the synthesis of historical evidence in the form of inscriptions, written records of Portuguese and Chinese sailors, as well as the 'Tatar Sunda' folklore, very little of which still remains. 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. The domestic architecture of that region follows most closely the traditional Sundanese architecture. Pakuwan Pajajaran port, known as Sunda Kelapa, was destroyed by invading Faletehan (Fatahillah) Muslim soldiers in 1579, and Dayeuh Pakuan, the capital of Pajajaran, was invaded by the Banten Sultanate some time later. Before the establishment of the sultanate, the western tip of Java island played an important role for the Sunda Kingdom, with Banten being a large trading port. Various types of vessels entered the Ciujung River, and most of them were used to transport crops that were harvested from the interior regions. Therefore, the ruler of the region, Prince Pucuk Umun, believed that the sustainability of the river needed to be maintained. 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 troops, with their specific duties to that area, came largely from the Kanekes community, which still inhabits the upper part of Ciujung River at Gunung Kendeng.[10]

The discrepancy between the two theories led to the notion that in the past, the identity and historicity of the Kanekes had been intentionally concealed, in order to protect the community from attacks by the Sunda Kingdom's enemies. Van Tricht, a doctor who had done medical research in the area in 1928, denied this theory, however. According to him, the Kanekes people are natives of the region and have strongly resisted external influences.[11] The Kanekes people themselves also refuse to acknowledge that they originate 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 by the king, because the people are obliged to preserve the kabuyutan (ancestral or ancestral worship).[12]

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 and is rooted in ancestral worship and honoring or worshiping spirits of natural forces. According to the kokolot (elders) of Cikeusik village, Kanekes people are not adherents of Hinduism or Buddhism. However, in its development, this faith is influenced by and has incorporated elements of Hinduism, and to some extent, Islam.[13]

The form of respect for the spirits of natural forces is carried out by guarding and preserving the natural environment, such as the mountains, hills, valleys, forests, gardens, springs, rivers, and all the ecosystems within them, 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 practiced in the daily lives of the Kanekes people.[2] The most important principle of 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, they practice pukukuh by not changing the contour of the land for their fields,[15] so much so that the way of farming is very simple; not cultivating the land using plows or forming terraces, but only using hoe-farming methods, that is, with sharpened bamboo. In the construction of houses, the contouring of the soil surface is also left as is, therefore the poles of the Kanekes houses are often not of the same length.[15] Words and actions of the Baduy people are expected to be honest, innocent, without beating around the bush, and devoid of bargaining in trade. 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, whose location is kept secret and is considered sacred. The Kanekes people visit the site to worship once a year in the month of Kalima, which, in 2003, coincided with the month of July. Only Pu'un, or the highest customary chairman and several elected members of the community, will follow the entourage to worship. Rainwater is stored in a mortar container in the Arca Domas complex. If it 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 that year, and the harvest will be bountiful. Conversely, if the mortar container is dry, or the 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 the addition of some original ideas. 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.[citation needed]

Social classes[edit]

An old Kanekes lady carrying firewood

The Kanekes people have a shared history and language with the Sundanese people. Some differences include their respective beliefs and lifestyles. The Kanekes people isolate themselves from the outside world and strictly preserve their traditional lifestyle, while the Sundanese are much more open to outside influences, and the majority of them embrace Islam.

Generally, the Baduy are divided into three groups, namely Tangtu, Panamping, and Dangka.[17] The community of villages in which they live are called 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 is Tangtu, or Kajeroan, also known as Baduy Dalam or Kanekes Dalam (meaning "Inner Kanekes"), with a population of about 400 consisting of forty 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] A characteristic of the Kanekes Dalam people is the color of their clothing—white and dark blue, as well as the wearing of a white headband. They follow the rigid buyut taboo system very strictly, (see § Religion and beliefs) and thus have made very little contact with the outside world. The priests of this community, known as pu'un, are the only ones allowed to visit the most sacred ground of the Baduy, which lies on Gunung Kendeng, in a place called Arca Domas.[19] Unlike their Kanekes Luar counterparts, the Kanekes Dalam people are not influenced by Islam.

Some of the rules observed by the community include:

  • No vehicles are allowed.
  • 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 hand-woven black or white fabrics are allowed.

The 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 contacting the more reclusive community. They also follow the rigid taboo system but not as strictly as the Kanekes Dalam, and they are more willing to accept modern influences into their daily lives.[20] For example, some Kanekes Luar wear the colorful sarongs and shirts favored by their Sundanese neighbors. In the past, the Baduy Luar 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 person to make a journey to Jakarta or even to work outside as a hired hand during the rice planting and harvest seasons. Some even work in big towns and cities like Jakarta, Bogor, and Bandung. Meat is eaten in some of the outer villages, where dogs are trained for hunting, though animal husbandry is still forbidden.

Some Kanekes Dalam have become Kanekes Luar, either through intermarriage or as a result of breaking Kanekes Dalam customary laws.

Characteristics of the Kanekes Luar include:

  • They are familiar with technology such as electronic devices.
  • Construction of houses in the Kanekes Luar permits the use of modern tools, such as saws, hammers, nails, etc.
  • Wearing modern clothing like T-shirts and jeans is permitted.
  • The use of modern home appliances, such as mattresses, pillows, plastic or glass plates and cups, etc, is allowed.
  • A significant number have converted to Islam and been influenced by the outside world.

There are two Kanekes Luar settlements, namely Padawaras (Cibengkung) and Sirahdayeuh (Cihadam), which function as a buffer between the Kanekes Dalam and the outside world.[17]


Governing structure of the Baduy people

The Kanekes community recognizes two governing systems: the national system, which is in accordance with the laws of Indonesia, and the customary system, which abides by the customs of the community. Both are combined or acculturated in such a way that there is no conflict. Conventionally, the Kanekes people are led by a head of settlement, who is referred to as jaro pamarentah.[21] Customarily, the Kanekes people fall under the leadership of the pu'un,[22] who can be found in three settlements, or tangtu. The position is passed down through generations, but not necessarily from a father to his children; it can also be handed down to other relatives.[23] The governing term of a pu'un is not specified; instead, it depends on a person's ability to hold on to the position.


As it has been the case for hundreds of years, the main livelihood of the Kanekes people is 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.[citation needed]

External interactions[edit]

The Kanekes community, who until the present have adhered strictly to their customs, has not been entirely isolated from the developments of the outside world. They became 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 to and recognition of these authorities, the Kanekes community routinely perform the seba ceremony each year,[2] which involves delivering crops such as rice and fruit[25] to the Governor of Banten (and formerly to the Governor of West Java) through the regent of Lebak. In agriculture, the Kanekes Luar people interact closely with outsiders in affairs such as leasing of land and laborers.[citation needed]

In the past, trading was done by barter, but nowadays, the community uses the national currency, the rupiah. The Kanekes people sell fruits, honey, and sugar palm through middlemen. They also purchase necessities that they do not produce themselves from markets.[citation needed]

Today, visitors to the Kanekes customary region are increasing, with a large number consisting of high school or college students. These are welcomed into the community and can even spend the night there, provided that they abide by local rules. These include a ban on taking pictures within the Kanekes Dalam areas as well as a prohibition on the use of soap or toothpaste in the rivers.[26] The customary region of the Kanekes people remains forbidden to non-Indonesians, however, including journalists.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johan Iskandar & Budiawati S. Iskandar (October 2016). "Ethnoastronomy – The Baduy agricultural calendar and prediction of environmental perturbations" (PDF). Biodiversitas. 17 (2): 696. ISSN 1412-033X. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Judistira Gama (1993). Koentjaraningrat (ed.). Masyarakat Baduy di Banten, dalam Masyarakat Terasing di Indonesia. Gramedia.
  3. ^ "Sacred People". Time. 21 August 2000. Archived from the original on 12 February 2001.
  4. ^ Permana, C.E. (2001). Kesetaraan gender dalam adat inti jagat Baduy (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Wedatama Widya Sastra.
  5. ^ R. Cecep Eka Permana (2001). Kesetaraan gender dalam adat inti jagat Baduy. Wedatama Widya Sastra. p. 15. ISBN 97-996-5304-5.
  6. ^ Yakob Sumarjo (2003). Simbol-simbol artefak budaya Sunda: tafsir-tafsir pantun Sunda, Volume 1. Kelir. p. 305. ISBN 97-997-7170-6.
  7. ^ "Language: Badui". Joshua Project. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  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 978-90-671-8305-5.
  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 27 September 2017.
  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 978-90-042-5398-8.
  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 11 November 2005.{{cite web}}: 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.{{cite book}}: 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 27 September 2017.{{cite web}}: 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 978-18-454-5312-1.
  26. ^ Bahtiar Rifa'i (2 October 2017). "Hal-hal yang Perlu Diperhatikan Sebelum Wisata ke Baduy". Detik Travel. Retrieved 25 January 2018.

External links[edit]