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The Sasak
Art and culture of the Sasak

The Sasak-art never has been so popular as the art of their Balinese neighbors. There is some high-grade traditional art - weaving, making baskets and pottery - but never something that even equals the quality of the Balinese. Recent efforts to modernize the art, meant to produce for the tourist industry, has failed as well.

Lombok was known for it's ikat, but the tourist doesn't want to pay that much for a fabric, so the handwork (spinning and painting) has been replaced by machines. A low-tech programme to sell local pottery, partially financed by the government of New Zealand, was successful and raised some extra money for the three villages which participated. The makers of the pottery are seen as very good craftsmen. Besides pottery, baskets, made with rattan, banana-leaves and other fibers also belong to the best art.

The dances and ceremonies of the Sasak are also a little less imposing as the extended ceremonies of the Hindu Balinese. The most important rite of a Sasak-boy is his circumcision. During this ritual he is placed on a big wooden horse, and carried around. Islamic weddings, which often take place after the harvest because then there is enough of everything, are also a big ceremony. The time in which the crops are harvested varies. The rice is planted in October or November: the new 'short season rice' is finished three months later; the traditional long-grain rice takes five months.

Circumcisions are often carried out in the Islamic month of Muhammads birthday. Ceremonies often take place with ritual fights, named peresehan or berempuk, in which the men are armed with rattan sticks and shield of buffalo skin. Blood flows often, and the ceremony is not for the weak people.

Peresehan-fights are also held in combination with national and local festivals, and sometimes as a part of an agrarian ritual in which rain is asked. Sometimes a more friendly show is given for tourists; the men only attach each others shields.

Last revised on December 14, 2009
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