The Baduy (or Badui), who call themselves Kanekes, are a traditional Sundanese community living in the western part of the Indonesian province of Banten, near Rangkasbitung. Their population of 11,700 is centered in the Kendeng mountains at an elevation of 300–500 meters (975′-1,625′) above sea level. Their homeland inBanten, Java is contained in just 50 km2(19 sq mi) of hilly forest area 120 km (75 mi) from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.
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 origin of the wordBaduy may come from the term “Bedouin“, although other sources claim the source is a name of a local river.
Religion and Beliefs
The religion of the Baduy is known as Agama Sunda Wiwitan, a combination of traditional beliefs and Hinduism. 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.
According to kokolot (elder) of Cikeusik village, Kanekes people is not adherent of Hinduism orBuddhism, 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.
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.
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. 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.
There is evidence that they were originally influenced by Hindu, but retain much of their nativeanimism ancestral veneration beliefs. They have adopted this many centuries before foreign influence including Arab (Islam), European (Christianity) etc.
Generally, the Baduy are divided into two groups: The Baduy Dalam and The Baduy Luar. 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 population of about 400 Baduy Dalam 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. They are probably the purest Baduy stock. The Dalam 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 Dalam 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. Unlike the Luar, the Dalams are hardly influenced by Islam.
The Baduy Luar 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 Dalam, and they are more willing to accept modern influence into their daily lives. For example, some Luar people now proudly sport the colorful sarongs and shirts favored by their Sundanese neighbours. In the past the Baduy Luar only wore only 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 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.
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. 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.
Formal education for the children of Baduy is against their traditional customs. They reject government proposal to build educational facilities in the villages. Even today, despite the ways that Suharto tried 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 are able to read or write.