Baduy Tribe


The Baduy (or Badui), tribe is a group of indigenous people in the Sundanese  sub – ethnic in  Lebak, are a traditional community living in the western part of the Indonesian province of Banten, near Rangkasbitung. They also have some taboos such as being photographed, especially those who belong to Badui Dalam or Inner Baduy cluster.


The term possibly the name originated from some Dutch researchers who seem to equate them with the Arabic Bedouin tribe who are known to be nomadic, another possibility because there are Baduy River and Baduy Mountain in the northern part of the region. The tribe prefers to call themselves as “urang Kanekes”, Urang – means people and Kanekes – is the name of the area where they live. 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 in Banten, Java is contained in just 50 km2 (19 sq mi) of hilly forest area 120 km (75 mi) from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. Baduy people are divided into two groups, namely the Baduy Dalam or Inner Baduy and Baduy Luar or Outer Baduy. They split up not because of a dispute but because of beliefs and customs that apply in each group. The characteristics of the Inner Baduy among others, dressed in a white shirt called Sangsang, because it is  only sangsang or attached to the body, there are no  buttons nor pockets.  They also wear a white headband, dark blue sarong up over the knee. All shirts are handmade, because sewing machine, or any machine for that matter, is forbidden here. The material comes from cotton thread woven using traditional looms. Similar material is used for the bottom side of their dress, which is actually a sarong with blue-black color, worn just wrapped around the waist. To prevent it from being loose and falling down, a long black piece of cloth   is used to tie it as a belt. The Inner Baduys rarely speak, only as needed. But they are highly trustworthy, though   strongly abide by the customary law, and is not easily affected  by any outside influences.


Meanwhile, the Outer Baduy people usually dressed in black, with pockets and  buttons like other people outside the Baduy area. The material is not necessarily of pure cotton yarn. They wear  a dark blue batik headband and also  carry a  traditional plaited  bags. They are allowed to   travel  by motor vehicles, to open a new field for farming from one place to another, and  to  work as farm laborer. They are easier to talk to but remain affected by the customary law because they still have to comply with and obey the law of their ancestors. There is a little leeway in the way Outer Baduy dress when compared to the Inner Baduy. It can be seen from the colors, models, motif or fashion style, showing that their lives have been influenced by foreign cultures. Clothing for men among the Baduys is very important. Another accessories is a big dagger or cleaver. Bothe the Inner or Outer Baduy man, whenever he wants to travel us cloth usually always carries  a cleaver tucked in  the waist and a Koja or bag made of  cloth or bags on his shoulder.



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 word Baduy may come from the term “Bedouin”, although other sources claim the source is a name of a local river.

Language & Hood


The Baduy speak a dialect derived from archaic Sundanese. However, modern Sundanese and Javanese influences in their archaic dialect can be heard in their speech. Baduy houses are uniformly simple, constructed only of natural materials, such as bamboo and palm thatching, without windows, and are devoid of any furniture, chairs, tables or other furnishings. They use no modern utensils, mechanized equipment, or manufactured materials, such as glass or plastic, and no modern device or even domestic animal is used in their traditional Sweden rice farming techniques. Within the Baduy territory, there is no electricity or other modern conveniences, and no electronic equipment, motor vehicles or other instruments of the outside world are permitted to enter. Thus, many an anachronism in today’s rapidly industrializing Indonesia, rejecting all forms of modernization, and still following unique cultural and religious practices as defined by the Baduy adat law systems handed down by their ancestors more than four hundred years ago perceive the Baduy community.

Baduy Dalam & Baduy Luar


Inhabiting a special reserve of some 5,200 hectares set aside for the Baduy people by the Indonesian Government, the population of about 7,200 people live in two separate clans. The Inner Baduy (Baduy Dalam), numbering only 350 in three villages (kampung) in the core area, are the strictest adherents to Baduy spiritual belief, while the remaining population live in the Outer Baduy (Baduy Luar) area. The Baduy Dalam is the centre point of culture and religious following and the focus of rituals and sacred sites within the Baduy territory. Symbolically, the Baduy Dalam clan members may wear white with the black traditional clothing, while the Baduy Luar clan members are characteristically dressed in black or dark blue. The Baduy Luar serves as a buffer zone between the Baduy Dalam and the outside world with members of the outer clan acting as intermediaries for the more pure members of the inner clan.


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 or Buddhism, 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 native animism ancestral veneration beliefs. They have adopted this many centuries before foreign influence including Arab (Islam), European (Christianity) etc.


The Baduy believe in one central deity, whom they call Batara Tunggal, and regard themselves as the descendents of seven minor deities sent to earth by Batara Tunggal at the beginning of humankind on the planet. The Baduy hold as most sacred a remote place near the centre of Baduy territory, known as Sasaka Domasa, where this event is said to have occurred and where the spirits of their ancestors are protected and revered. However, all Baduy territory is regarded as protected and sacred, particularly the most significant forest areas, which are not, permitted to be disturbed or altered. Consequently, these forests comprise a valuable environmental reserve and a perpetual resource for sustainable use by the community.


Social Classes


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.

A most extraordinary aspect of Baduy society is the origin of this tribal group, which today remains shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, when Muslim forces began to spread the Islamic religion through western Java and other parts of the archipelago in the early part of the 16th century, an ascetic group of people said to have originated within the ancient Hindu Kingdom of Pajajaran refused to embrace the new religion. Instead, these people fled to the upper regions of a nearby mountain range (Kendeng Mountains), forming their own religious clan based on strict adherence to unique religious beliefs; perhaps influenced in some ways by the Hindu religion of the Kingdom of Pajajaran before it fell to the Muslim invaders.



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.


Baduy – 21 century


Today, the Baduy people exist as an isolated, small-scale traditional community surrounded by mainstream Indonesian society, which in western Java alone is comprised of some 40 million followers of the Islamic faith. In spite of the external forces of modernization and the pressure for this small community to assimilate within modern Indonesian society, the Baduy tribe still controls its mountain stronghold where religious and cultural practices have remained largely unchanged until very recent times.

Today, a burgeoning Baduy population and increasing contacts with the outside world, have led to the development of a more market-based village economy dependent on cash crops and sale of handicrafts. In recent years, the Baduy have placed an increasing emphasis on agro-forestry production, such as the timber plantation Albizia tree, fruit, palm sugar and other products grown almost exclusively for sale on local markets, rather than the formerly self-sustaining cultivation of hill rice (ladang).


These changes have begun to cause some cultural, social, and environmental impacts, which are most evident in the increasing use of non-traditional, western-style clothing, consumption of packaged fast foods and use of other manufactured goods that are purchased with money obtained through growing cash crops. Although prohibited by Baduy adat law, some other modern articles imported from outside the Baduy territory, such as thermos bottles, radios and even the mobile phone, are becoming increasingly commonplace in Baduy homes.

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