Baduy, the last Utopia

Have you ever thought that Utopia – a dreaming island where private property does not exist, where every body works for every body (sounds like socialism)- really exist in this world ? Maybe little bit like the group of  traveler on “The Beach”. First, I thought that was imposible, and then I believe it do “exist” after my (and friends) journey to Cibeo and met Baduy people.

Cibeo located on Banten, West Java. Some said Baduy word came from the name of the river there, Cibaduy, but another version said they were named by Dutch people after Badui on Egypt – depicted wild and fierce on Karl May books Balkan series -, but they call themselves “Urang Kanekes”. Baduy people divided into two, Inner Baduy and Outer Baduy. Outer Baduy seems like not as fundamentalist as their brother Inner Baduy. They have close relation to people outside their village, they can use modern stuff (e.g. handphone, radio, etc.), they can be a seller which were prohibited for Inner Baduy people.

We start our journey to Inner Baduy village from Ciboleger. This journey was prepared by WABI as our EO. We arrived at night at Ciboleger and then take a rest for the travel in the morning. Our friends on WABI already ask for permission before from Jaro, Baduy leader, thats why in the morning some of Inner Baduy people came to pick us.

Inner Baduy people wear typical dress. White turban, black or white shirt without button, pant which more looks like skirt, bracelet made of rattan and beads, also tool (not weapon) – small machete – on their waist, and bare foot. This description really remind me of Sumbanese people, their dress were similar, but Sumbanese dress is more colorful.

To get to Inner Baduy village which is located on deep forest, we have to pass some hill and valley. It took about 5 hours from Ciboleger to finally arrived to our destination. Scene along the path was awesome, green trees and fresh air, some times we walk along Baduy peoples farm. Some time we pass some rice barn which were built just next to the step path.

Baduy people very wise to working on their land, and they applied strict rules about it to keep sustain mother nature. Their farm land only used for some term of time, and then they have to move to different location. Yeah, it can be easily explained why. They plant rice, corn, cassava, papaya, and some Indonesian conventional farm plant. They gather their harvest and keep the rice on communal barn.

I was confused first why they built all their barns together outside their village? The answer quite simple and make sense : to prevent their food in case their village caught on fire. Stealing was also prohibited thing on Baduy community thats why their foods safe to be placed outside their village. Their barn were perfectly designed against water and rat. They even serve us with rice that had been harvest 40 years ago!

Foreign people (e.g Mongoloid, Caucasian, etc.) not allowed to enter their village and all visitors were prohibited to take picture inside Inner Baduy area. Modern stuff also not allowed there include soap and toothpaste. So when we stay there we take a bath on the river without soap. Yeah, at least it good for their clean river. They also divide the river into some part for  different purpose such as washing, bathing, etc. It just their way to keep their tradition and mother nature from outside interference.

Sunda Wiwitan was Baduy people belief and they believe in prophet Adam. They have sacred place called Hutan Larangan (Forbidden Forest) and only their leader know way to go there. Every problem on their daily life, they will discuss it together on a house which is specially built for this purpose.

Baduy house also remind me of Sumbanese traditional house. It was constructed above stone, chosen wood for the pole, mainly made of bamboo, roof made of grass, and rope made of rattan. Floor about 1 meter above ground and kitchen placed inside the house to keep the temperature warm in the night. Its all looks similar but Sumbanese house is bigger.

One night was enough for us to feel Inner Baduy people life and feel how cold their village in the night! We go back to Ciboleger through different way. Before we leave our host give us cool souvenir : glass made of bamboo.

I still wonder how come in such modern life nowadays, Inner Baduy resist with their culture. I think it maybe supported by their exclusivity, their principle about life, and their rules against outsider interference. Fortunately, government also protect and support Baduy way of life.

Yeah, no body can judge another people life. Baduy people choose their own life. Thomas Moore maybe surprise such kind of his dream really exist in this world. But I believe this community is not alone. There still another Utopia out there.

On our bus go back home to Jakarta, I’m still curious about Baduy ancestor, and I think, I’d see no grave yet there. Where is their cemetery? Ahh, never mind..