Traditional Villages


A visit to a traditional Sasak village is a necessary part of your trip to Lombok. There are two villages like this a few kilometers north of Kuta, called Rembitan and Sade. Even if some of these traditional villages today may have become tourist traps a visit can be an interesting experience.

Pujut, Rambitan and Sade Village are the most interesting Sasak traditional villages where most of the inhabitants practise and maintain their traditional and cultural values.

The Sasak villages exist mostly on sloping hills, with the people living on farm produce and the rising of cattle. Rice and corn, their annual crops, can be cultivated only during the rainy season, with most families keeping animals such as chicken, goats, cows and buffaloes for the food the offer during the summer season.

Sasak villages are distinctively marked by grass-roofed-houses symmetrically constructed on wood frames and most with bamboo-walls. Bale is the construction for a living house, built with a single room functioning both as a sleeping room and kitchen. Lumbung is a curve-like construction functions as a rice store.

Most Sasak houses are built with a lumbung and some also include sekepat or sekenem, construction which functions as guest reception or meeting place.
Pujut, Rambitan and Sade Villages are located in the southern part of Lombok, some sixty kilometres from Mataram.

All the guides, souvenir sellers and donations to the village is something you will have to tolerate, this is an important income and maybe you help preserve a culture which otherwise would have disappeared?

The people here are following the old “desa adat” traditions, even if they in some ways have adapted to modern times. The population is about 500, who makes a living of farming and selling “ikat”-textiles to the tourists. The inhabitants has to follow very strict rules, it is not allowed to marry outside the village and they are following the Wektu Telu religion, a form of Islam mixed with Hindu and old animist beliefs.

There are only three types of buildings in Sade (three is a very important number in the Wektu Telu religion); a large “beruga” or traditional ceremony hall with six pillars, “lumbung” with four pillars for storage of rice and other food, and “bale tani” which is used as living quarters. The roofs are covered by alang-alang (elephant grass) and constructed in order to keep the temperature inside cool on hot days and warm on cooler days. Other Sasak villages has tried to use bricks for construction, but these houses proved to be humid and unhealthy.

The buildings are made of three main components, wood for the pillars and the framework, bamboo for the walls and alang-alang for the roof. No nails or tools of metal is used during the construction period, still the buildings are quite solid and will give sufficient protection against the weather and wild animals. Each house is between 4 to 6 meter long, and split in three sections; kitchen, sleeping room and living room.

The start of the construction of a new house is taken seriously, first all necessary materials and tools have to be gathered, then a “kyai” (a religious teacher) is consulted to find the best day to start. Normally this day falls on a date with an odd number, and the event is announced by beating on a bamboo gong in the village so everybody knows what’s going on and can give a helping hand. The first day all framework and pillars are expected to be completed, if not this will bring bad luck. ¨

A kyai spread seeds on the site at the end of the first day and perform some special prayers. The ceremony ends with a dinner where everyone takes part. A properly built Sasak house can last more than ten years.

In old days the villagers only lived of the fish they could catch in the sea and the few cattle they owned. Only during the wet season were they able to grow something on the rice fields, if the rain was delayed famine occurred all over the island. To have some alternative income the women started to weave, and today these ikat-textiles are increasingly popular among the tourists. More modern methods has made farming possible also in the dry season.

A traditional Sasak family do not live exactly as we are used to, the head of the family do not normally sleep inside the house. The men is supposed to sleep outside under the stars, in a lumbung or on a balcony outside the house. Only women and children will sleep inside. When a boy is 12 he must follow his fathers example.

Pottery is the speciality of these villages. In the old time of Lombok most of the daily utensils were provided by nature combining with a simple process of creation. The clay soil was transformed into kitchenwares, and any sort of construction of facility necessary to support the watering systems for town and field.

The people of the villages have created the pottery for many years and most seem to possess natural talent as well as the motivation to keep the tradition of pottery making alive.

It is worth witnessing these creations and mingling with the people will offer many enjoyable moments. While little kids are forming strange figures and their parents are spending their farm-off-time on simple looms, are the best moments for watching people at work along with the process, constantly in progress of teaching skills to the young.

There are lots of woodcraft centres in Lombok, but it’s apparent that Labuapi village has the biggest productivity. The village itself has approximately 42 units of industry centre and accommodate 350 workers with product capacity of 24.900 pieces annually.

There are various items produced here. Wood-masks, seashell decorated boxes, indigenous Lombok statues, wood-plates, and the many kinds of wall decoration of wood etc. The interestsants may include the visit to this village in half-day or full-day sightseeing.

One might wonder that Indonesia’s weaving art form is so various and distinctively from island to island, and even from village to village. The Lombok traditional weaving at Sukarara Village will impress you with its beautiful motives and designs.

Glance at very young girls cleverly playing the threads and the wooden looms, creating patterns using figures of the moon, flowers, dragons, etc.

The tradition amongst the local Sasaks is that weaving is considered an essential talent that a woman should possess as much as the ability to grow and process rice, however, the local Sasak men are as much the weaver as the women.


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