The Next Indonesia Corner

The Sasak population are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike the Hindu Balinese, the majority are Muslim and the landscape is punctuated with mosques and minarets. Islamic traditions and holidays influence the Island's daily activities.

The most ancient Sasak village is the village of Bayan, near the foot of Mt. Rinjani, which is the stronghold of the Wektu Telu, but most frequented by visitors are the villages of Sade and Rembitan, close to Mataram. Here villagers disregard their modernising surroundings and continue to live in the old tradition. 

Houses in Sade are built in rows. But most prominent and typical to Lombok is the rice barn or “lumbung”, which stands raised on four wooden piles with a bonnet-shaped roof made of alang-alang or elephant grass. Rice is stored through a raised window. Theberuga or the ceremonial hall stands on six pillars, its roof is also covered with elephant grass, providing coolness in hot weather and warmth during cooler nights. The Sasak are predominantly farmers cultivating rice fields, while their women are adept at weaving, producing the beautiful Lombok ikat cloths.

The annually event, around February, the Bau Nyale celebrations are held with the appearance of seaworms along the shores of Lombok, believed to bring luck and prosperity. Another event worth watching is the Peresehan, a local tradition involving a fight between two men using long rattan staves and small rectangular shields made from cow hide. In the old days, blood used to flow freely, however, today the performance is done mostly for tourists.