Next stop in our Wonderful Indonesia trip (#TripOfWonders), is the Island of Lombok. In our itinerary, we will be visiting a traditional local village and explore the Gili Islands.
We flew from Makassar to Lombok via Garuda Indonesia Airlines. Although just a short trip, I was amazed by how the service in the plane was handled (more on this soon).
We arrived at the hotel late in the evening, and while waiting for our room keys, the friendly hotel staff served each of us a glass of refreshingly cold lemon grass brew. (hmmmm I think I can get used to this life!).
My introduction to Lombok was the view from my hotel room. Looking from my window, I started to get excited with our upcoming adventures.
First stop, which will be the focus of this blog, is the Sasak Traditional Sade Village.
In the Philippines, we do have traditional villages all over the country and I always get fascinated learning their culture, especially their arts. So, knowing that I’ll get to see this on our first day in Lombok made this trip extra special.
SASAK SADE TRADITIONAL VILLAGE
Around 80% of the entire population of Lombok consists of Sasak people, an indigenous group in Indonesia. The Sade Village is one of the villages in Lombok where Sasak people live. Despite the modernity of our times, quite a number of houses – a total of 150, built in traditional Sasak style, are a common sight in this village.
The moment that we hopped out of the bus, we were welcomed in a very festive way. We were given weaved sashes (sort of a scarf), that were hanged around our shoulders. It seemed as if there was a ‘fiesta’ going on in the village. I LOVE IT (I felt special haha). Along the entranceway, there were people playing traditional musical instruments, stringed, percussion (and even a flute—I think?).
Our group was not the only one who visited the village during that time. There were several tourists who enjoyed the festive welcome as well (I guess it’s like this everyday). My first impression was that the village had become so commercialized and I am a bit scared that it might lose its authentic heritage. Hoping that my fear was wrong, I sat down and started observing my surroundings with an open mind.
We watched several dance acts prepared to entertain the village’s guests. Each dance was given an introduction, I think it was for our benefit, so we’ll not get culture shocked. There were some dances that made me sit at the edge of my seat, particularly the Peresaian Dance ( a dance between two men armed with sticks and buffalo skin shield – warrior ritual dance). Every hit felt as if one will surely get hurt. At one point, I was not sure if this was scripted or not. It was really hard and painful to watch.
Although I can live without watching the Peresaian Dance, other dances were entertaining and fun.
Tarian Gendang Belek – Welcoming dance (big drum dance)
Petuk Dance – Dance performed during circumcision ceremony
Amak Tempengus Dance – a dance to entertain the warriors who returned from war
After watching the performances, it was our turn to walk around the village.
While walking down the small alleyways, you will see traditional houses built from wood, bamboo and thatched roof, something very similar to our ‘bahay kubo’ (but look sturdier).
During my undergrad studies, my thesis was about restoration and preservation of the Ivatan House (Ivatan: group of people living in Batanes, a province north of the Philippines). In a way, I can relate how hard it is to preserve such a village/lifestyle in the modern days.
For sure, tourism had an impact to the village. One thing that you can’t really miss are all the souvenir shops placed in front of almost all houses.
The village is famous for their ‘Ikat’ Weaving, and you can see that almost everyone in this village is selling beautifully weaved fabrics. You can see Sasak women in front of their houses weaving the next available fabric for sale. According to our guide, the whole community are working together to promote their craft and keep their culture alive (this is actually very commendable).
(Ikat, or ikkat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric. In ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed.)- Wikipedia
It was nice to know that the Sasak people in Sade Village, understand the value of their heritage, and they are showcasing this to educate those who are visiting, even for a short time.
At first, it might look like a very commercial-centric traditional village, and at one point, one may question the authenticity of what was being showcased. After touring around and fed with some information, it became clear to me that these inputs (possibly in collaboration with the local government) not only help the village but also those who are visiting Indonesia. It is an adaptation that is mostly beneficial to the Sasak people in terms of livelihood and keeping their heritage alive. For us, who are mere spectators, the Sade Village became an immersion crash course in the life of the Sasaks.
I am happy that I was able to visit this village (and even bought myself a scarf and sarong). To be with the ‘real’ locals, the legitimate owners of the land we were walking on, felt so surreal. After my brief experience in this village and mingling with indigenous people, I sincerely hope that this place will keep on educating not only tourists like us, but also locals who want to discover their roots and the rich culture of their country.
Coming Up Next: Part 2 of our Lombok and Gilis Adventure: Exploring The Gili Islands.
This post is in collaboration with The Tourism Ministry of Indonesia
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