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The Sundanese West Java
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THE SUNDANESE

The name " Sunda " is used to refer the people who speak a language typical to this people. The language is also called " Sunda" and the land is called Pasundan or Tatar Sunda. Geographically Sunda speaking people inhabit the west part of java island which is bordered by the river of Cilosari and Citanduy from the rest of Java island. Outside west Java are found people speaking Sunda such as on the city of Cirebon, closer to Central Java. City such as Jakarta although it is located on the land of Sunda, but their people speak Malay - Jakarta. It is due to the historical formation of the city by mixed ethnics from all over Indonesia. The fact that Jakarta around 13th century was one of the Pasundan important port for the kingdom of Pasundan named Pajajaran. While some towns on north coast including Banten many people speak Javanese. The use of Sundanese among the people is strong, daily life, school, lectures, and even among offices.

It is known fine Sundanese language which is considered original such as it is spoken in Ciamis, Tasik Malaya, Garut, Bandung, Sumedang, Sukabumi, and Cianjur. Dialect spoken by people living in Cianjur is considered the most refine and polite Sundanese. While Sundanese spoken on north coast, Banten and Cirebon is considered less polite. While the language spoken by the people of Baduy is considered old type of Sundanese.

Fine Letters

Sundanese introduces poetry and prose, especially poetry is read and sang during a family having maternity. The poet is called "Beluk" both poet and prose have the theme taken from Hindu epic of Mahabharata and Ramayana, the ancestor heroes of Sunda such as king Siliwangi, the story of Munding Laya di Kusumah, Nyi Phanji Sanghyang Sri, and chronicle of Cirebon. Fold tale of mountain formation such as Mount Tangkuban Perahu as an oedipus story about Sangkuriang is widely known and spoken among Sundanese. Well known show is wayang golek ( marionettes ), in contrast with wayang puppet shadow play in Java and Bali. The influence of Islam on Sunda land was coming from Cirebon during the end of Pajajaran kingdom, known as the fall of Hindu kingdom on Pasundan following the fall of Great Hindu kingdom of Majapahit around 1400.

Sunda Land and People

According to Prof. Harsojo the common identity of Sundanese besides their language are their great care and appreciation of their art, optimistic, cheerful, but to sensitive emotionally. The biggest problem of west Java is big number of birth rates, since 1930s Dutch colony recorded the number of population of around 20 millions and what is the fact of today, it is more then 40 millions. It is typical for all Java island including the island of Madura that a family can have more then 6 children. Even among religious figures ( uztads ) not uncommon of the opinion that human being must give birth and marry women, and having children is order of Allah, and having more then 2 wives is god way. It is not rare among uztads to have Tour packages more then 20 children more then 10 wives. That's why more then a half of total Indonesian population is on Java. The biggest birth rates in Indonesia outside Java are in South Sulawesi, Banjar south Borneo, and Lombok which are all majority Moslem. This situation if not immediatly overome will cause the fall of the nation

Traditional Organization

Settlement pattern of Sundanese is almost the same with other parts of Indonesian ethnic groups, that the smallest unit of settlement has its own organization with relation to government and social function of their tradition. This smallest unit of settlement is called Desa, a word not strange every where in Indonesia, yet having slight different in organization structure and dividing the tasks. A Desa in west Java as a unit of administration for its people, tradition land and other affairs have almost the same pattern in general, only the title of the functionaries found to differ. The head of the Desa is elected democratically. The head is assisted by secretary in charge for office works, 3 kokolots functionaries given the assignment of delivering orders, reports, complaints, etc, just like a communicator between the head and the people, an Ulu-ulu given the assignment of taking care of water and schools, an Amil given an assignment of taking care of birth, death, divorce, restoring marriage, heading religious praying, mosque, and cemetery. A Kulisi in charge for security in general.

As late as 1965 government of west Java recorded around 3.881 units of Desa, each Desa had varied number of population from 3.000 to 4.000 persons whose members are known each other. Since modernization of Indonesia reaching also villages on west Java changes on the structure of relation among peoples basically started after world war II. New relation is based on economic or business orientation has been making the old tradition under abrasion, and for certainty if government do not see the direction of this social relation in complete aspect it might cause a direction that do not support the advancement of the people which at last influence national development.

Until today west Java still have Desas that preserve their old tradition such as the Baduy and Dukuh. The Baduy still preserves pre-Hindu tradition, while Dukuh although already follow Islam, but older tradition is still preserved such as taking care of trees, sacred places, etc. This Desa is isolated, located on the high mountain slope on the southern part of Kabupaten Garut. This is few good example of tradition which in fact modern science proves to be ideal to keep sustainability of the natural resources.

The Spirit of Creating Job

West Java has been splitted into 3 provinces, one is Jakarta which is from 17th century has shown development into metropolitan city and meeting place for whole ethnics of Indonesia, while today Banten province on the west tip of Java island splitted around 2002 into independence province in the spirit of creating job for executives and legislatives members which for sure will bring not profit to the people. Basically now west Java has big cities as centers of trade and production such as Bandung, Bogor, and Cirebon. The source of economy is still traditional based on farming but not in big scale. Processed products limited only in big cities such as in Bandung known for fabric production, semi-machine products such as foot wares, and military arms. The heritages form Dutch colony such as tea plantation is still alive until today which is famous around Puncak and Dago highland. People staying on the beach live from fishing and fish trade which is not on big scale to. System of land ownership in west Java consist of privately owned and public ownership. Public ownership what is called titisara or kanomeran or kacahcahan land. This type of land was given to the people who was considered having good service to the Desa, then the head of the Desa gave them the land on the basis of use, but can not sell or change of ownership. Other public owned land is those who in in the public service for the Desa then given also land for their return of service.

Traditional Organization

Social system on west Java actually not much difference from other parts of Indonesia such as marriage tradition, kinship and after marriage status. The problem is like other undeveloped Muslim countries a man can practice polygamy, while economically and knowledgeably un supporting which has been creating poverty among the people. The biggest problem for national pace of economic development and social welfare. This situation is not only on west Java or Java island in general but other Muslim society such as on South Sulawesi, Banjar and Lombok island. Their kinship system is almost the same as other ethnic groups of Indonesia, they introduce terminologies of kinship up to 7 generations up and 7 generations down, and introduce relation among close relatives called "golongan" among which the awareness of genealogical relationship is still exist and reciprocal assistance available among them. Actually every new married couple will live on a new house, but due to the high birth rates and the practice of poly gamy it is not rare that a house live more then one families, so make the situation is not comfortable especially for women.

The Sundanese as other ethnic of Indonesia is still live with religion as the most important spiritual need, where Islam id 98% as the main belief, although it seems that some people with their extend of knowledge has reached real spiritual development who could bring the advancement of economy, politic or shortly the local culture.

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