South-Sumatra, 18 Tribes, Map
|Daya Tribe 54.000 Islam|
|The Daya people are spread throughout the districts of Baturaja Timur, Baturaja Barat, Simpang, and Muaradua in the district of Ogan Komering Ulu in the province of southern Sumatera. The Daya language is one of the languages considered to be part of the larger ethnolinguistic grouping of Melayu (Malay) languages. Daya is sometimes considered to be part of the Komering language, but the delineation is unclear. The national language, Bahasa Indonesia, is taught in schools.|
Daya homes are mostly found in the southern and western foothills and mountains of the Bukit Barisan range. The land in the Daya area is relatively fertile and most Daya make their living by farming. Rice is the main crop, but they also grow fruits, coffee, rubber, coconut and yams. Some seek a living as fishermen. The Daya who live near the larger towns are mostly traders.Daya houses usually consist of a bedroom and a large guest room. The floor and walls are made of wood or bamboo. The roof is often made of coconut palm leaves layered with clay.Important and heavy work that benefits the community is done through a system called gotong royong. This system is a traditional burden sharing principle of working together for the common good. Individual and family needs are done in a similar manner of exchanging assistance.The men are dominant in the community and the family system of the Daya is patriarchal. The father is respected as the head of the family and makes final decisions. Men may have more than one wife but this seldom happens due to the costs involved. Wives act as the housekeepers and caretakers of the children. Besides household work, most Daya women work in the fields. Daya women can be seen carrying heavy loads of goods on their heads.
The Daya people are followers of Islam. Followers of Islam believe they will be judged on their knowledge of the Koran, their sacred book, as well as being judged on the basis of whether their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds. Although the influence of Islam is strong upon the culture of the Daya, they also maintain animistic beliefs. Many Daya use amulets with written verses from the Qur’an (Islamic Holy Book). A dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) is often called to heal the sick and cast out evil spirits.Awareness of the difficulty of facing the natural world is shown by the honoring of their ancestors. The Daya often express this respect through ceremonies to the ancestors that founded their villages or established the fields where they work and live. Other celebrations and ceremonies involve life cycle observances, work related festivals, house-warmings, and so on. All of these activities are done through the gotong royong system to show community solidarity.
|Enim Tribe 81.000 Islam|
|The Enim people live along the Enim River in the districts of Tanjung Agung and Muara Enim in Muara Enim Regency in South Sumatera. Sumatera is the world’s fifth largest island. It has a vast potential wealth of minerals, oil, and natural produce, but much of the land remains untamed jungle, swamp, and volcanic mountains with transportation and communication difficulties. Sometimes called the most unreached island in the world, Sumatera is home to some of the world’s largest unreached people groups. The Enim people are descendants of the Melayu Palembang (Palembang Malay) people. At the time of the decline of the Kingdoms of Sriwijaya and Majapahit, they were driven out of the Palembang area and formed a community along the Enim River. They use the Enim language, which is a branch of the Melayu (Malay) language cluster.|
Farming is the major means of livelihood for the Enim. Farming is particularly important to those living near the river. Some Enim men work as miners in the government-owned Bukit Asam coal mines. Others work in areas around southern Sumatera such as Palembang and Lampung.The Enim homes are usually built from wood with a traditional pyramid shape raised on stilts. This style is used due to two factors. The first is security ,as this style affords protection from wild animals. The second factor is that the houses are often built in swampy areas. The traditional Enim home faces the main street and has a pance (porch) in front. The pance is a common place for relaxing with the family or visitors.Marriage is carried out according to Islamic principles. There are three forms of Enim marriages. The first is Tanam Batu, which means the groom joins the bride’s family. The second is Kepelaking and means the bride joins the groom’s family. The third is Tambe Anak Samarizing, which means that the bride and groom can live in the place which they prefer, so there is no “tie” to either of the families. The Enim are very open to newcomers. This characteristic is referred to as Serasan Sekundang (as if family) or Sesama Teman (friends together). This means they are open to form relationships with anyone regardless of ethnic or religious background. This factor of openness has lead to many mixed marriages with people of other ethnic and religious backgrounds.
The Enim people are nearly all followers of Islam. Their faith in Islam is passed on to each new generation. The Enim follow Islam because their ancestors chose it, but some of the Enim people still practice the traditional beliefs of their ancestors. The influence of animism is apparent from ceremonies performed before clearing forests and other events that involve a dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) and traditional rituals. Some Enim believe their own behavior can cause their ancestor’s spirits to either help or harm them.
|Kayu Agung Tribe 54.000 Islam|
|The Kayu Agung people are located throughout the districts of Kayu Agung and Upper Ogan Komering Ilir in the province of South Sumatera. They speak the Kayu Agung language, which is a branch of the Melayu (Malay) language cluster. Kayu Agung means “the people of the noble wood”. They are not nomadic, but tend to live in the same area their entire lives. Currently, there are approximately 40 Kayu Agung villages.Some neighboring people groups characterize the Kayu Agung as lazy and thieving. A rumor suggests that they are blessed by the local religious leader(s) before setting off on a “robbery trip.” Obviously in response to this hatred, the Kayu Agung are generally unfriendly and suspicious of outsiders.|
The Kayu Agung houses have wooden walls and floors, with a sago palm leaf roof. The houses are usually raised several feet off the ground on top of wooden stilts.Livelihood is earned through farming, trading and making earthenware vessels. Seasonal farming is common because they live in a swampy area. During the rainy season, rice is the only crop that can be grown. Cultivating the rice takes place in the following stages. First, the field is cleared. Second, after the water levels recede, a crop is planted. In this phase, the workers are mainly men, but in the third stage of the harvest time the whole community helps one another in a system called gotong royong. Every citizen is required to perform service for the good of the village and clan.Family lineage of the Kayu Agung is determined bilaterally. Community life is ordered by a system of customs called Simbur Cahaya, which is based on a traditional system of regulations from the Sriwijaya Kingdom and the Sultanate of Palembang. This system still maintains a distinction between the royal class and the ordinary people. Decisions in matters of adat (customs) are made in meetings of peers or through village, community, clan, or small group meetings. The community meetings are lead by the pasirah (village chief) or his deputy. If several clans are involved in a problem they often hold small meetings. Larger meetings are lead by regents or other high-ranking officials. Kayu Agung customs include many traditional ceremonies begin at birth, and include engagement, marriage, circumcision and death.
Almost every Kayu Agung person follows Islam. However, many also hold traditional beliefs in the spirit world. The Kayu Agung believe that ancestral spirits can trouble humans. Because of this, before a body is buried they must cleanse it with flowers. The goal is to confuse the dead spirit so it forgets its way back to its former home. A dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) is highly trusted and is often requested to perform rituals for planting and harvesting. The Kayu Agung also consider some areas as sacred places for the enthroned spirits of the departed.
|Kelingi Tribe 64.000 Islam|
|The Kelingi are located in the south-central part of the island of Sumatra along the Bukit Barisan Mountains. Historically, they were probably a people of coastal Borneo who expanded into Sumatra as a result of their trading and seafaring way of life. Their culture has been strongly influenced by other peoples, including the Siamese, Javanese, and Sumatrans. The Kelingi are close neighbors to the Pasemah people groups, which include the Semendau and the Lematang. They speak Sindan Kelingi, which is an Austronesian language.|
The Kelingi are a rural people, living in villages of 50 to 1,000 people. Much of the country is covered by jungle, but the villages are located along the coasts, rivers, and roadways. Within their villages, the Kelingi build houses on stilts raised four to eight feet off the ground.
Farming is the primary occupation of the Kelingi. Rubber is the main cash crop, but coffee and rice are also grown. Wet-rice plots are worked by hoeing, or by plowing with oxen or water buffalo. Planting and harvesting are usually done by either hired work groups or by the extended families. Farmers often use tractors in cultivating their crops. They set aside part of their proceeds from their harvests for several years, then buy their tractors from the government.
Since most of the people make their living from farming, major ceremonies are usually held after the harvest. These events include marriages, circumcisions, and hair cutting ceremonies. Every family in the village participates in such activities because of their strong feeling of community.
Kelingi families do not usually live together as extended family units. Instead, each family tries to have its own separate home. Newlywed couples may temporarily live with their parents, but they prefer to have their own homes as soon as possible.
Kelingi women wear cotton sarongs (loose skirts made of long strips of cloth wrapped around the body) with long-sleeved cotton blouses. They also wear skirts over trousers, jackets, and scarves; they do not wear veils. Men wear Western-style cotton shirts and slacks.
The Kelingi are 95% Muslim, with the remainder following their traditional ethnic religions.
|Kikim Tribe 16.000 Islam|
|The Kikim people are an indigenous group residing near the tributaries of the Kikim River in Lahat Regency of South Sumatera Province. They are spread throughout Kikim District, where they are the majority ethnic group. Although a small number also live in the Lahat City District. The Kikim District constitutes the largest district in the Lahat Regency, but it is sparsely populated. The Kikim are often equated with the Pasemah (or Besemah) people who live nearby.|
In everyday life, the Kikim use their own language, called Kikim, which is a specific branch of the Melayu (Malay) language cluster. Their language is often erroneously called the “Besemah language,” which is used by the Melayu community residing in some of the other districts of the Lahat Regency.Most Kikim people make their living as farmers, having rice as their main crop. Many Kikim also plant various dry-season crops such as yam, cassava, corn, and legumes, among others. Some of the Kikim also raise livestock, both for field preparation and for consumption. In general, those farmers living near the jungle still practice migratory agriculture (shifting from one field to another), mainly because they cannot maintain the soil’s fertility. New farmland is opened by cutting down the large trees and burning the underbrush. This clearing method is often cited as one of the causes of the forest fires that frequently occur in Sumatera. Even though their actions do cause some damage, it is not comparable to the destruction done by the large plantation owners who illegally burn large areas of the forest with impunity due to corrupt governmental protection.
Presently, the Kikim people are known as adherents of Islam. Followers of Islam believe they will be judged on their knowledge of the Qu’ran, their sacred book, as well as what they did with their lives. Despite their Islamic faith, vestiges of old animistic beliefs are still seen in their lives. The Kikim are known for a traditional ceremony called Sedekah Rame, which is a religious meal eaten with fellow-villagers while sitting in an area called Tanah Badahe Setue (Land of Future Graves) in the middle of the rice fields. This area is designated as a place to burn incense, make ritual offerings to spirits, and light bonfire.
|Lematang Tribe 163.000 Islam|
|The Lematang (or Lemantang) people’s homeland extends from the city of Lahat in the regency of Lahat until the area of Lematang llir Ogan Tengah in the regency of Muara Enim. Bordered by the areas of the Kikim and Enim peoples, it runs along the full length of the Lematang River near the cities of Muara Enim, Prabumulih, and Gelumbang. It also includes the region of the tributaries of the Rawas River near the cities of Bingintelok and Terusan. The Lematang River, also called Sungai Orang Kaya (Rich Man’s River), is South Sumatera’s largest producer of “river rock,” which is used for foundation material in building. The Lematang area includes the districts of Gunung Magang, Muara Enim, and Merapi. Merapi District has 37 villages, including Muara Lawai, Gedung Agung, Banjarsari, Kota Agung, Tanjung Baru, and Arahan. The Lematang originated from Banten people who immigrated at the time of the ancient Majapahit Kingdom.|
In general, the Lematang people work on farms and plantations. Their main crops include coffee, rubber, palm oil, and other permanent crops. They own large expanses of farmland, so there are no shortages of work opportunities.The Lematang people are very hospitable and friendly when welcoming newcomers. They have a strong sense of community togetherness proven by their adherence to gotong royong (neighborhood mutual service and assistance), not only to the Lematang community itself but also to outside communities. Lematang homes are raised on stilts with roofs resembling pyramids. The front of the house has a sitting area (pance) facing the main road. This porch is for relaxing with family members and visitors.Regarding marriage, the Lematang people have two main customs. First, the prospective groom will become a full-fledged member of the bride’s family with all wedding expenses born by her family. Second, the new couple may leave their in-laws in order to seek work elsewhere, but they still have a responsibility to provide for the parents’ eventual retirement needs.Inheritance is granted to the daughters causing many of the sons to set off for other areas to earn their living. When an outsider marries one of the Lematang, it must be in a Muslim ceremony. After such a wedding, however, they are given freedom to embrace another religion and still be accepted as family members, but not as Lematang community members.
The Lematang people currently embrace Islam, yet still hold to ancient beliefs concerning magic and mystical powers. In matters of belief, they are of the opinion that all religions are equally valuable. In matters of traditional customs, their customs are similar to Lahat and Muara Enim customs.
|Lembak Delapan Tribe 31.000 Islam|
|The Lembak Delapan reside in Bengkulu Province, in the provincial capital of Bengkulu and 25 villages located in the low-lying areas of the districts of Talang Empat and Pondok Kelapa. They and the nearby Lembak Beliti people are both members of the Melayu (Malay) ethno-linguistic cluster. The Lembak Delapan consider themselves to be one of the original people groups in this area of South Sumatera.|
The Lembak Delapan make their living from traditional farming and raising livestock. The livestock are let loose to find their own grazing areas, and the method of farming is migratory agriculture (shifting from one field to another). Farmers will cultivate fields until the land is depleted and then move to new fields. Because of a low level of fertility, the people use slash and burn farming and then move again for the next season. The natural forestlands are being depleted due to the continuous search for fertile fields. Old fields are quickly overgrown and become difficult to farm.Rice is their main crop, and they also collect rubber sap. Because farming success is somewhat uncertain, the younger generation is generally disinterested in becoming farmers. Many Lembak Delapan young people leave their hometowns to look for work. Many have moved to Jakarta (the national capital) and Palembang (South Sumatera provincial capital) looking for a job. Often these young people have the opinion that their language and customs are rather backward resulting in many of the new generation experiencing an identity crisis.The familial system of the Lembak Delapan is patriarchal. The women help work in the fields or manage their households, and the older children also help in the fields and at home. Most of the houses in Lembak Delapan villages are still the traditional style raised on stilts. In current times, however, some have built brick and cement homes. These folks are seen as making progress and “getting ahead.” Thus the custom of building stilt-houses is beginning to be abandoned.
Lembak Delapan people proudly consider themselves firm followers of Islam. Followers of Islam believe they will be judged on their knowledge of the Qu’ran, their sacred book, as well as what they did with their lives. In addition to faithfully worshipping in the mosque, a large number of the elder generation continue to perform ancestor worship at gravesites. In their everyday lives, they still practice animistic beliefs just as their ancestors did. The younger, better-educated generation generally feels confused and unsure about what they should believe. They feel there is no longer a pattern of what it means to be religious, so many choose to practice those religious values that make sense to them.
|Lembang Tribe 174.000 Islam|
|The Lembak People live in the boundary area of the provinces of Bengkulu and South Sumatera. In Bengkulu they are located in the regencies of Rejang Lebong and North Bengkulu as well as in the city Bengkulu. In Bengkulu Province they call themselves “Sindang Kelingi” or “Lembak Sindang Merdeka” (meaning “Free”). The Lembak may have originated from the valley of the Musi-Rawas River in South Sumatera to the east of the city of Lubuklinggau. This area is currently occupied by the Lakitan people. The Lembak moved in the 16th century to secure freedom from their Palembang rulers. Outsiders often call them the Bulang (turban) people. The Lembak language is part of the Melayu (Malay) language cluster. The Lembak people have an indigenous script, called Surat Ulu (Letter of Beginning), which is similar to Rejang and Serawai scripts.|
The Lembak people’s main livelihood is cultivating rice in irrigated and unirrigated fields. Quite a few men work as rubber tappers on the many rubber plantations in the area. Others run small-scale brick-making factories in rural areas. The women help in the fields and manage the households.The Lembak family system is patriarchal and the lineage of descent is bilateral (traced through both parents). There are three post-marriage patterns for newlyweds. The first is to set up a new, separate household. The second is the bejojoh custom of living with the groom’s relatives. The third is the semendo custom of living with the bride’s relatives.Lembak homes are raised on stilts and have large rooms. Most homes have a stairway on the side. They typically have more furnishings than the homes of the neighboring Lintang and Rawas peoples. Electricity is available throughout the area, but their cooking fuel is kerosene or wood. The Lembak societal system resembles those of the Rejang and Serawai peoples. Villages join together to form a clan, which is lead by a pasirah (village chief). An official (mangku) and his deputy (penggawa) supervise kepemangkuan (clan districts). They are supported by religious experts, such as imam (Muslim prayer & ceremonial priest) and khatib (mosque preacher).Elements of the Lembak culture include: (among others) the Tari Piring (Plate Dance) and the Tari Pisau (Knife Dance). In addition, there is Dangdut music, which often combines a strong beat with Arabic rhythms and Islamic teachings. The young people are trained in singing, dancing, and Indonesian martial arts.
Most Lembak people today embrace Islam, although a large part of the community still adheres to animistic beliefs. Most believe in the power of unseen spirits inhabiting sacred places. The services of a dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) are often sought for many purposes, including healing the sick and exorcising evil spirits
|Lintang Tribe 76.000 Islam|
|The Lintang make their living as farmers who produce rice, coffee, rubber, spice, and vegetables. They also raise goats, water buffaloes, dogs, chickens, ducks, and other animals. Although they live near rivers, they do not catch fish as a livelihood. The economic condition of the Lintang is low. Although the Lintang young people choose their own spouse, their parents still make the arrangements for the wedding. The Lintang lineage is patrilineal (tracing descent from the father). The Lintang men work as farmers whose activities are dependent on the seasons. For instance, harvesting coffee only occurs once a year. Women help men work in the fields, and consequently, they often leave their children at home unsupervised. Lintang houses are built from wood on top of raised platforms. The Lintang who do not perform manual labor would typically have a long pinky fingernail as a sign of higher social status. When a conflict arises, the Lintang solve it through family discussion. If they do not reach an agreement, the problem is brought to the village leaders or elders. If they still fail to find a solution to the conflict, they would then ask for help from the police or the mahkamah (religious court). The Lintang do not appear to practice any indigenous art forms, except pencak silat (an Indonesian traditional martial art), which is taught in local Islamic schools. Formerly, the Lintang performed dances, but they have fallen into disuse. The Lintang traditional festivals and ceremonies normally are Islamic in nature, such as circumcisions, weddings, and Idul Fitri (Muslim celebration at the end of Ramadan fasting month).|
The Lintang are loyal adherents of Islam. This is evidenced in the number of mesjid (mosques) in their area. Despite this, traditional animistic beliefs are still strong in daily life. They still believe in the power of unseen spirits that inhabit sacred places. The services of a dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) are often sought for many purposes, including healing sicknesses and exorcising evil spirits.
|Musi Banyumasin Tribe 161.000 Islam|
|The Musi Banyuasin people group live in several districts of Musi Banyuasin Regency in South Sumatera Province. Often the inhabitants of the Musi Banyuasin area are simply called the Musi people because their dwelling place is near the Musi River. However, the residents of the district differentiate between the different Musi groups such as the Musi Sekayu and Musi Banyuasin.The Musi Banyuasin people speak the Musi language as the medium of communication in everyday life. The Musi language is a part of the Melayu (Malay) language family that has the characteristic of using the letter ‘e’ sound at the end of a word. For example, the Indonesian apa (what) becomes ape. According to researchers, the original region of the Musi language covers the districts of Sekayu, Babat, Toman, Banyu Lincir, Sungai Lilin and Bayuasin Tiga.|
The Musi’s area is largely made up of lowland clearings interspersed between marshland. In the westward direction, the area consists of highland dense jungle, including part of the Bukit Barisan Mountain Range. Generally, Musi Banyuasin settlements are located in the area of a river. The largest river in the area mentioned above is the Musi River, which has several tributaries. Even now, the river is still the principal communications track.Their basic means of livelihood is farming with the principal products being rice and a variety of fruit. Some also become workers in coconut and tire plantations or in petroleum mines.Historically, the Musi Banyuasin people have been patrilineal (tracing descent from the father). However, today quite a few families follow the bilateral practice of tracing descent from both the mother and father. Current practice states that both families will be consulted on important matters or the matters will be clearly delineated before the marriage takes place. Their wedding ceremonies are known as melerai pengantin, signifying the separation of the woman from her household and her entrance into the man’s household. Singing and dancing are common for every ceremony and program. Some examples of song names are Pucuk Pauh, Biduk Batabe, Iban-Iban, Mare-Mare, and Anyot Sa Antau. Examples of dance names are Setabek, Sekapur Siri, Nasib, Ranggonang, and Selendang Mayang.
The majority of the Musi Banyuasin follow Islam, but most still believe in animism, particularly concerning ancestor spirits. This belief has a very strong influence in community life. This is evident from the many historical graves in the area. For example, the graves of Puteri Darah Putih, Cende Muara Bayo, Puyang Rio Raos, and several more burial sites have become places of ancestor worship and places for asking blessings for their lives.
|Ogan Tribe 370.000 Islam|
|The Ogan people live along the Ogan River in South Sumatera. Their area begins in the Bukit Barisan mountains in the southwest and extends to the city of Palembang in the northeast. Locally, they are often referred to as the Pegagan, which identifies them as the indigenous people of the area. The geographic center of Ogan life is the city of Baturaja, through which both the trans-Sumatera highway and Lampung-Palembang railroad pass. The fact that the name Ogan has been given to three of the six districts in the province 1) upstream Ogan-Komering; 2) downstream Ogan-Komering; and 3) midstream Ogan-Lematang – underscores the importance of this ethnolinguistic group in South Sumatera. Mutually-intelligible Ogan dialects include: Enim, Musi, and Rawas.|
Ogan villages usually consist of 300-400 households. Stilted single-family houses are built of wood and have 3-4 rooms. Storage and workspace are beneath the house. Each Ogan village has its own distinct story about their origin and how they became Muslims. Often each village will also be associated with a specific skill, such as woodworking or goldsmithing. There are also similarities among the villages, such as the practice of Islamic education and training, patterns of marriages, loss of face, and efforts to preserve their customs and culture.Two types of customary marriage are followed. The first requires the groom’s family to pay a price to the bride’s family. The couple will live in the groom’s family home and the children become descendants of the groom’s family. The other method does not require a payment to be made. The newlyweds live in the bride’s family home. The children become part of the bride’s family. Married couples are responsible to care for family members and manage the family’s land and assets, including contributions to customary ceremonies.Farming is the principal economic activity in the area and is based on three key crops: rice, rubber and coffee. Planting is done by 5 to 10 hired workers or by shifts of family members. Harvests involve groups of men and women including the farmer’s family.
The Ogan have followed Sunni Shafi’i Islam since the 16th century. At the end of that century, they were also introduced to Sufi beliefs. They practice all Islamic holidays such as Idul Fitri (end of Ramadan fasting month) and Idul Adha (Day of Sacrifice). They tend to believe in superstitions related to spirits occupying a place or item. Their social and spiritual life consists of activities such as religious feasts, celebrating the birth of a child, praying for deliverance from disaster, or in giving thanks for a harvest. People gather to do Islamic prayer readings as well as prayer ceremonies to the spirits of their ancestors.
|Pasemah Tribe 684.000|
|Most Pasemah (or Besemah) live in the regencies of Lahat and Ogan Komering Ulu in the province of South Sumatera. Some live in Bengkulu Province. The center of Pasemah territory is the impressive volcanic peak, Mount Dempo. Pasemah communities spread from its slopes to the west, south, and southwest along the Bukit Barisan (“Marching Hills”) mountain range. Historically, their political center was Pagar Alam (“Nature’s Fortress”), which helped protect the Pasemah from their aggressive neighbors, the Rejang.The Pasemah are an energetic and enthusiastic people. They play a dominant role in South Sumatera politics and also hold key leadership roles in many government departments and educational institutions in Bengkulu. They have secured numerous patronage posts in both provinces.|
Agriculture is their principle economic activity based on three key crops: rice, rubber, and coffee. Planting and harvesting is carried out by groups of five to ten people working either for wages or crop sharing. Some also produce rubber from rubber trees. Pasemah houses are built from wood with tin roofs and 3-4 rooms including a closed kitchen in the back part of the house. The traditional Pasemah house is built on raised platforms as high as 1.5-2.5 meters off the ground. The enclosed area below the house is used for various purposes: as a cooler room on a hot day or as a storage space for tools, food, and other items. The Pasemah recognize three types of marriage as follows: (1) belaki, where the groom pays a bride price and the price of the wedding and the newlywed couple live with the husband’s family; (2) ambil anak, where the husband moves to the wife’s family and he does not have to make any payments for a bride price or the wedding. Consequentially, the children are considered descendents of the wife’s family; 3) semendean, where the cost of the wedding is split and the newlywed couple is free to choose where they will live.
Most of the Pasemah are Muslims. Islam entered the southeastern Pasemah area in the 16th century. The western and northwestern areas were islamicized in the 19th century. The Pasemah who embraced Islam in this period were Sufi Muslims who then spread throughout Sumatera. The teachings of Sufism are focused on subjective feelings and stress that it is more important to know God than to merely observe religious rituals. On Pasemah plateau, there are 26 historical sites with various artifacts, cemeteries, and Buddhist stupas that have been considered holy since before 100 A.D. There, enormous stones were sculpted into amazing forms such as soldiers riding elephants, a man wrestling with a snake monster, and ocean waves. The Pasemah still use these large statues as places for making sacred pledges, calling out to their ancestors’ spirits to give blessings, and protection from misfortune.
|Penesak Tribe 22.000|
|The Penesak live around Prabumulih in southern Sumatera, including the city of Kayu Agung. The Penesak people originated in the district of Tanjung Batu in the regency of Lower Ogan Komering. This area is somewhat infertile, and although their preference is to stay in the same area their entire lives, they will sometimes move to other areas in search of more fertile land and resources, such as wood for cooking. The Penesak are a primarily rural people and are rarely found in the larger cities and towns in the area.|
Penesak seek their livelihood in many ways. Many work as farmers, day workers, carpenters, traders, and iron-workers or in cottage industries. Many women work in their homes, making embroidery and weaving straw mats and a clothing known as songket. The Penesak houses have timber walls and floors with a sago palm leaf roof. The houses are usually raised off the ground several feet on top of wooden stilts. Some Penesak men build these timber houses on wooden stilts for buyers to view and purchase, and upon closure of the sale, they dismantle the house and transport it to its destination for re-assembly.Because of a low level of fertility, the people use slash and burn farming and then move again for the next season. The natural forestlands are being depleted due to the continuous search for fertile fields. Old fields are quickly overgrown and become difficult to farm. Some success comes from rubber, pineapple, sugar cane and vegetable plantations.Traditional customs are influenced by Islam. This includes wedding, birth, death and circumcision ceremonies. One of the most strongly held customs is the wedding ceremony. When a marriage contract is made, the groom and his family visit the bride’s family home. The couple then returns as a part of a procession to the groom’s home to formalize the wedding. The engagement is serenaded with tambourines and music. The groom wears a long white robe topped off with a turban. The wedding ceremony is begun with long readings from the Qur’an (Islamic Holy Book).
The majority of all Penesak people are Muslims of the Muhammadiyah movement. However, there are still some who believe in a spirit of fear named Sindai, who is often referred to as an invisible creature who disturbs the community. There are dukun (shaman/healers/occultist) who function as mediums between humans and the spirit world. The Penesak also value sacred relics and shrines such as the relics of Lord Umar of the Sari royal line; a spear and a staff with a sword hidden inside; a prayer rug painted in Mecca and signed by the hand of the Prophet Mohammed; and a piece of cloth with a footprint of a prophet. Holy places and shrines such as the gravesite of Lord Umar are located near the village Tanjung Atap.
|Pindah Tribe 21.000|
|The Pindah people live in the border area of the provinces of Jambi and South Sumatera. They are mainly located in Jambi Province in the districts of Desa Pauh and Desa Mandiangin of Batang Hari Regency and also in Desa Sarolangun District of Sarolangun Bangko Regency.According to legend, they are descendants of people from Palembang who came and stayed in their present location. Based on their physical characteristics, it is believed they are the descendants of the “Older Malay” race. They are usually shorter than the vast majority of the other people groups living in the area who are from the “Younger Malay” lineage.The Pindah language is considered a part of the larger linguistic cluster of Melayu (Malay) languages. Their language is very close to the Rawas language. The similarity to other Melayu of the Palembang area is shown in the change of a final ‘a’ vowel sound to an ‘e.’ For example, the word ada (there is) becomes ade; apa (what) becomes ape; and kemana (where) becomes kemane. An example of their linguistic proximity with the Rawas is the use of aya (water) rather than air.|
Their main livelihood is cultivating crops in irrigated and unirrigated fields. There are rubber and coffee plantations in the forest areas. Today, many Pindah work as laborers in plantations and in the timber industry.One of their often-used hunting weapons, named a pulut, is made from a piece of bamboo or a palm leaf rib that has a clump of sticky sap at the end. The Pindah differ with most other ethnic groups in Jambi in that their lifestyle is very much influenced by the Melayu Palembang culture. This influence is particularly evident in their kinship system and social organization. The lineage of descent is bilateral (traced through both parents). The Pindah have an open (rather than restrictive) marriage tradition. Their tradition says that the couple is free to live where they want after the wedding, or their location can be decided by their families before the wedding. The new family is the responsibility of both the wife’s family and the husband’s family. For the Pindah, the wedding ceremony has an important meaning. It symbolizes the relationships between: 1) humans and humans; 2) humans and inanimate objects; and 3) the visible and invisible world. From the wedding ceremony, a feeling of unity, togetherness, and cooperation is created.
Most of the Pindah are Muslims. However, a great number of the people still practice their traditional animistic beliefs in their daily life. For example, they still believe in magical power and sacred objects, and there are many taboos and prohibitions. The services of a dukun (shaman/healer/occultist) are often sought for many purposes, including healing of sicknesses and exorcising evil spirits.
|Rambang Senuli Tribe 43.000 Islam|
|The Rambang Senuli people, who are often called simply the Rambang people, are an indigenous people group who live in the Pedamaran and Mesuji districts of the Ogan Komering llir district in the province of South Sumatera. The Rambang language is one of the languages considered to be part of the larger ethnolinguistic grouping of Melayu (Malay) languages.|
The customs of the Rambang communities are rich in the variety of activities focused upon the natural environment. Activities involving the lifecycle include birth and death rituals and Buang Juang (farewell ceremonies when one leaves the village to find work). Other rituals relate to special events such as lunar and solar eclipses, requests for rain, earthquakes, and so on. They also place a high priority on Qur’an (Islamic Holy Book) reading competitions and the Islamic Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.The Rambang Senuli people are inclined to live simply. Agriculture is the principal economic activity in the area and rice is the primary crop. Wet rice plots are still worked mostly by water buffalo. In addition to rice, corn, peanuts, other fruits and vegetables are also grown. They are sometimes called orang selengek, which is a term referring to their unique method of preserving fish. They make several traditional items from bamboo, rattan, wood, roots, and palm leaves.Rambang villages usually consist of 300-400 households. Houses are generally single-family dwellings of three or four rooms raised on stilts with the lower part of the house used for storage or, in some cases, trade.The Rambang Senuli are bilateral, which means descent is measured through both the mother’s and father’s family. Two types of marriage arrangements are practiced: 1) payment of bridewealth thereby establishing a couple’s residence in the groom’s household with whom all offspring will be primarily affiliated; 2) no payment of bridewealth thereby placing the groom in the bride’s household and the offspring in the mother’s line.The marriage relationship is considered a powerful factor in the unifying process of families, clans, and people groups. This tendency is seen throughout South Sumatera. Weddings are not seen as only personal affairs, but as a family matter, which also involves the larger clan and the community at large. In the event of a marriage across clan or ethnic lines, there is a meeting to agree on time, place, and which marriage customs will be followed.
The Rambang Senuli people believe their first leader to follow Islam was Lord Bintang Ruano. He introduced Islam to the people of Bengkulu and condemned the practice of animism. Since that time, the people ceased animistic sacrifice offerings, but they still believe there are supernatural forces in certain objects. The teachings of the Sunni Shafi’i branch of Islam became the guidebook for their lives.
|Ranau Tribe 74.000 Islam|
|The Ranau people live in the area along the border between the provinces of South Sumatera and Lampung, in the Baturaja District of the Ogan Komering Ulu Regency. The Ranau are possibly descendants of the Komering people. Their Ranau language is similar to that of the Lampung Krui. However, there are many that speak Bahasa Palembang (Palembang language) due to their proximity to that city.|
The Ranau earn their living farming, raising livestock, mining, and gathering forest products such as rattan, resin, and wood. The primary farming product is rice using both irrigated and unirrigated fields. The Ogan Komering Ulu area is the number one producer of rice in South Sumatera. In addition, there are plantations of rubber, coffee, and vegetables. The Ranau also make use of Lake Ranau, rivers, ponds, and rice fields for fishing. Mining products include oil, natural gas, tin, and coal.Generally, the Ranau carry traditional daggers known as keris. In this area, this traditional weapon is very much a part of everyday life. This cultural tradition is illustrated in the saying “your weapon is your clothing.” Thus going out without a weapon is the same as going naked. In addition, this weapon is called dengasanak, which signifies an older sibling that protects the person from danger. During wedding ceremonies, a keris is carried on top of a carved container by a representative of the man, and given to a representative of the woman. The meaning of this is that the man vows to protect the safety of the woman with all his strength. The Ranau build their traditional homes in three shapes: limas (pyramid), ulu (head), and rakit (raft). The limas house is for the nobility. The ulu is built on stilts and is for the commoner. The rakit house is built on top of several layers of bamboo, which have been tied together so that they resemble a raft. This type of house is found along the Musi River. In addition to functioning as a residence, the raft house serves as a place for trading and a port for boats.Decorations in these houses always have a plant motif, which is considered a symbol of life. For example, the jasmine flower is a symbol of politeness and the rose symbolizes an antidote for disaster. This is intended to make an impression on the children as they grow up with these reminders. According to tradition, the number of steps to enter the house is always odd in order to bring blessings to the inhabitants of the house.
Due to the influence of other people groups in South Sumatera, the majority of Ranau are Muslims. Yet, they are Muslims more by tradition and culture than by conviction (taklid). In light of this, it is not surprising that many still believe in superstitions, objects with magic powers, and places considered haunted. The Ranau still practice magic and occultism as well.
|Rawas Tribe 174.000|
|The Rawas people live in the districts of Rawas Ulu and Rawas Ilir in Musi Rawas Regency in South Sumatera Province. Most Rawas live either in small cities, such as Surulangon and Binginteluk, or villages like Lubuk Kemang, Lesung Batu, Sungaibaung, Pangkalan, Pulaukida, Muarakuwis, and Talangberingin. The Rawas villages spread along the Rawas and Rupit Rivers. On the west, Rawas territory ascends up the peaks of 2,068 meter high Mount Hijau. To the south is the Rawas Regency capital, Lubuklinggau, through which runs the trans-Sumatera highway. The Rawas language is a branch of the Melayu (Malay) language cluster.|
The most prominent production of the Rawas people comes from rubber plantations. They are self-sufficient in producing their food supply. The Rawas area also produces many fruits such as oranges, mangoes, pineapples, duku (small white fruit), langsat (small yellow fruit), jackfruit, papaya, rambutan (hairy fruit), and durian (“stinky” fruit with a spiky shell). They also raise livestock such as ducks, chicken, goats, and water buffaloes. In catching fish, the Rawas still use traditional boats without motors. Their houses are built close together, which shows unity and the close relationships among them. The Rawas houses are made from wood and raised on stilts. They typically have three large rooms, including two bedrooms and a kitchen in the back part of the house. Usually, these houses face the road with an overhanging porch in the front.Depending on the agreement before the wedding, the Rawas can practice either a patrilineal (tracing descent from the father) or a matrilineal (tracing descent from the mother) system. There is a clear job division between men and women among the Rawas people. The men work in the rice fields, plantations, rivers (as pebble gatherers), and in making bricks. The women have the jobs of cooking and caring for the children at home or opening small stores. The Rawas people have interesting art forms. Their art consists of singing and traditional dancing with tambourine accompaniment. Examples of traditional Rawas dancing are the Tari Piring (Plate Dance) and Tari Pisau (Knife Dance). Among young people, forming art groups encourages this dancing and singing. Other than that, they are also active in developing pencak silat (an Indonesian martial art).
The Rawas people embrace Sunni Islam. They obediently perform the religious fast and implement merry celebrations on Muslim holidays. Their traditional weddings and marriages agree with the teachings of Islam. They carry out circumcision ceremonies for 6 to 7 year old boys. The Rawas also hold religious meals for remembering the deceased 7 days, 40 days, and 1000 days after a death. They often use a carved object with an Islamic motif or design as a charm.
|Semendo Tribe 119.000 Islam|
|The Semendo people are also often called Semende or Jeme Semendo. They form an indigenous community of South Sumatera Province, living in Semendo District of Muara Enim Regency. Semendo District consists of 31 villages with an area of 900 square kilometers. Its capital is Pulau Panggung. Their daily language is Semendo. Generally, words end with the letter ‘e’.The Semendo people trace their history to the Banten people group, some of whom left the island of Jawa a few centuries ago to seek a new home and settled on the island of Sumatera. The descendants of the Banten in this area became the Semendo people. The Semendo are a subgroup of the Pasemah cluster, which includes the Lematang, Lintang, and Lembak. Geographically, the Semendo people are divided into two groups: the Semendo Darat group and the Semendo Lembak group. The Semendo Darat people reside in Muara Enim Regency, and the Semendo Lembak people live in Ogan Komering Ulu Regency.|
The majority of the Semendo are traditional farmers. Their farmland lies approximately 900 meters above sea level, and the soil is fairly fertile. There are two main crops on which they depend, rice and Robusta coffee, which has a production that reaches 300 tons per year. The Semendo area is one of the major rice producing areas for South Sumatera. There are approximately 5,000 productive rice fields being planted and harvested yearly.The customs and culture of this area are greatly influenced by the touch of Islam. From rebana (tambourine) music to popular regional songs to folk dances, all are strongly influenced by Melayu (Malay) Islamic culture. One custom still strongly held being passed down through Semendo generations, is the Tunggu Tubang custom. This custom arranges the inheritance rights within the family. The oldest female child is the primary heir. The inheritance is typically a rice field and a house that is to be passed down through the generations. This custom has given rise to a strong motivation among the Semendo men to seek their fortunes far from home.
Through many generations, the Semendo people have been Muslims. The teaching of Islam is firmly and deeply implanted in the society. This can be seen in how faithfully some of the people routinely and regularly carry out the laws of Islam in accordance with the five “pillars” of Islam. Houses of worship, large and small, can be seen everywhere. There are also many pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) in the area. These schools have the specific purpose of teaching Semendo sons and daughters to spread the Islamic faith in the area.