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The Badui
The Badui

Badui territory to the south of Rangkasbitung, West Java is a special interest for anthropologically minded.

Approximately 3,000 of these reductive people live in 39 villages within the 51 sq. km by boundaries of Desa Kanekes. The Territory lies a little more than 35 km south of Rangkasbitung in hilly country ranging from 300 or 400 meters in height to maintain passes, near Gunung Kendeng which are crossed at 1,200 meters.

Within the larger Badui community near the southern most boundary, are three villages: Cibeo, Cikertawana, & Cikeusik, inhabited by 400 Badui Dalam (inner Badui people). They are completely surrounded by a protective of buffer zone of Badui Luar (outer Badui People) and deliberately shun all contact with the world beyond their group.

Each of the three Badui Dalam Villages is headed by a puun, a hereditary spiritual and temporal leader whose person is sacred. The land within Badui Dalam territory is also regarded as sacred, and outsiders, including the Badui Luar, forbidden to till its soil or settle there.

The Badui Dalam are not permitted to wear any cloth but the rough white homespun they weave themselves. They may not cultivate cash crops, use fertilizers, eat any four-legged animals, domesticate any livestock apart from chickens or use any medicine except their own herbal preparations. their agriculture is limited to ladang or shifting cultivation, which relies on the natural fertility of newly-cleared ground seldom productive for more than two seasons.

Similar taboos and restrictions apply to the larger group of Badui Luar, but less rigidly observed. Although obliged to wear only their homespun blue-black cloth, and forbidden to wear trousers, some of the Luar people now proudly sport the colorful sarongs and shirts favored by their Sundanese neighbors.

Other elements of civilizations (toy, money, batteries) are rapidly ifnfilrating especially in the villages to the north, and it is no longer unusual for an outer Badui to make a journey to Jakarta, or even to work utside 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.

The origins of the Baduis are obscured by absence of their recorded or written history, though ethnically they appear to come from the same stock as the Sundanese and the Javanese. There was a popular suggestion that they are remnants of the last Hindu Kingdoms in West Java, Pajajaran, but the fails to account for their unique nature or their religion, which shows no Hindu influence.

Their is a strange blend of animism and a certain Islamic elements, with some original ideas thrown in for food measure. The ultimate authority is vested in Gusti Nu Maha Suci, who originally sent Nabi (prophet) Adam into the world to lead the life of a Badui and Nabi Muhammad to organize the world's religious affairs.

The Badui most hallowed ground lies on Gunung Kendeng, in a place called Arca Domas, which is annually visited (and only) by puun of the inner communities.

The lives of Badui are hardly idyllic though the beauty of the country in which they live suggest another Sangrila. Many hardship abound, there is great vitality in their anklung music, the sound accompanied by deeper tones of of goatskin drums, and in sonorous rhythms beaten out on hollow rice-pounding logs.

The Badui also have a formidable reputation as medicine man, and their herbal preparations are eagerly snapped up by country and city dwellers alike, and many itinerant tukang with the streets of Jakarta as their beat, claim to be genuine Badui. The writer of this homepage have personal experience, because ever have broken hand in Badui mountains and the Badui people (dukun) fix it.

If your really interested, it is possible to visit some of the villages on the northern rim of the Badui Area. The most easily accessible is Desa Kaduketug, which is a good 4 hour hike from Leuwidamar (24 km south of Rengkasbitung). A Permission should be obtained from the Kantor Kabupaten in Rengkasbitung, beforehand.

Last revised on November 26, 2010
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