Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Badui of West Java

The Badui of West Java

Each of the three Inner Badui villages, Cikeusik, Cibeo, and Cikartawana, select holy headmen, called Puun, every ten to 14 years says Hasman. They choose two to three persons and educate them to be leaders. Next year new leaders will be chosen in Cibeo.

“It’s their own country,” says Hasman. Indonesia is only 61 years old, while they’ve been there for 1,600 years. In Indonesia every 17 year old is required to have an ID card, but none of the Inner Badui have one.”

Hasman says visitors pose the biggest peril by introducing diseases. Around 25 years ago tuberculosis killed many Badui. Mortality was extremely high he says, especially for the infants.

Hasman says the Badui have a unique naming tradition, “Every Badui may change their name up to nine times throughout their lives.”

“Their first name is when they are born and the headman gives a name to the midwife. The second name is used from eight to 12 years old. If a child becomes ill, he will use a third name.”

“Once a person is officially engaged a fourth name is picked and used for about six months until they are married and then a fifth name is introduced. The sixth name is given when the first child is born. The parents and the first born all use the same name. Another name is used the same way when the first grandchild is born so at that point, the grandchild, both parents, and four grandparents will share a name. This happens again when the first great-grandchild is born.”

“There are also names for people who are married but unable to have children. These names translate as ‘old’ and ‘empty.’ The ‘empty’ term is the same word they use to describe an empty rice husk.”

The Inner Badui, Hasman says, are all animists while the Outer are nearly so with less than 200 being Muslim. Hasman says that their belief about the birth of the world is, “a universal story. There were some seeds that grew. And from these seeds humans came as descendants from God. God is called ‘Batara Tunggal’ meaning ‘the One and Only.’”

Once a year they worship at a five-terraced rock pyramid. The pyramid is located in “the golden place” where the Badui believe the spirits of their ancestors dwell. Hasman says he has never seen the pyramid though he knows where it is. “It is very holy to them. There are some outsiders who have seen it but they then got the spell and died young.”

Hasman says no one knows where the Badui are originally from. From the architecture that they use, it is believed that they have been in the area since the fifth century. Their language is Sundanese which is spoken throughout West Java.

Even with three decades of Badui observations, Hasman says he still has much to learn. He has been studying the Badui calendar for six years and feels that he will need another one or two before he completely figures it out.

He says there are 12 months and roughly 360 days in a Badui year. However, the months, says Hasman, can have anywhere from 27 to 60 days and are decided two weeks before they are to begin. The Puun decide when the next month commences.

Hasman says that the Badui calendar is neither lunar nor solar. He believes that it is based on the stars and consolations. “When Orion is at its highest point in the sky is when land tilling begins and then a month or two later planting is started.” The crops are then left for the rain to water.

This was published as a sidebar to the below profile of Don Hasman.

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