About the Sade Traditional Village
In the foothills of the Pujut district on the Indonesian Island of Lombok, you can step back in time in the traditional weaving village of Sade. Among the rapidly changing landscapes of Indonesia, this village remains an island of tradition, comprising 150 houses built in the style of the Sasak, Lombok’s oldest cultural residents. It’s not just the houses that are traditional, though. The 700 residents of Sade are part of an effort to preserve the Sasak culture by continuing the traditional lifestyle through their marriage rituals, farming practices, weaving craft and more. This is a beautiful opportunity to see the indigenous people of Lombok’s efforts to maintain the strength and singularity of their culture. Keep reading to learn about the cultural immersion available at Sade, and how to make the most of your visit there.
How to Get There
Sade village is located in the district of Pujut, about 20 minutes inland from Kuta, the main coastal city on Lombok’s South-West coast. Like most places in Lombok, it’s best accessed by car or scooter, which are both widely available for hire on the island.
You don’t need to book for a tour as there are always local guides on hand to take you around. It’s impossible to get the most out of your visit without paying for and using one of these guides, at a very modest 75k per group. While there’s no entry fee, you’ll be expected to make a small donation of 20k when you sign the visitor’s book, to contribute to the village’s maintenance. If you enjoyed your time, we highly recommend adding a tip – it will be well received.
Traditional Sasak Houses
The first thing you’ll notice about Sade – and the first thing you’ll see online – are the houses. Their design is the result of centuries old building practices, and every element has structural or cultural significance.
While the top part of the walls are made of woven bamboo for cross ventilation, the bottom part is made of clay and covered with buffalo dung. Don’t worry, the dung is on the exterior, and it serves an important purpose. It doubles the insulation, keeping the houses cool, as well as repelling mosquitos. The dung is reapplied every month for these purposes.
In this culture, the higher the place the holier it is considered, as it’s closer to the heavens. So, these houses reach toward heaven with their distinctive roofs, peaked and rounded to imitate the shape of a mountain, one of the most important natural formations in Indonesian spirituality.
You’ll see a few different types of buildings in Sade, and each one has a different practical or social purpose. The Bale Bonter (‘Bale’ meaning house in the Sasak language) is home to people of authority in the community, and hosts traditional ceremonies and events. Agricultural workers live in the Bale Tani, and the elders and newlyweds live in Bale Kodong. Apart from these ‘Bale’ you’ll see the Sekepat and Sekenem, which are where guests of the village are housed.
Traditions and Customs at Sade Village
The traditionalism of Sade extends well beyond its architecture. The 700 residents aren’t permitted to marry outside of the village, and marriage to cousins or 2nd cousins is considered acceptable. These marriages are conducted through vibrant, ancient traditions, including the ritual ‘kidnapping’ of a bride before her wedding. The Sasaks in Sade also maintain a singularity of religion, all practising Islam.
Here’s are some other customs you might see when you visit Sade:
Hanging from racks outside the village houses, you’ll see shimmering sheets of woven fabric, all handmade with heritage methods. Beginning at age 9, Sasak women are taught to weave to continue this beautiful cultural legacy. The methods are time-consuming, but produce a vibrant and textured product that can’t be replicated by machines. The cotton is dyed by hand with natural colours, for example betel nut and ginger to create an orange pigment. This dyed cotton is then woven tightly by hand into intricate patterns, using wooden looms.
There will be fabrics available for sale as you walk through the village; these are stunning as wall hangings, sarongs, or adornments for your bed or couch.
Peresean and Gendang Beleq Performances
There are a few different Sasak performances that are open to outsiders. The first is Peresean, a theatrical fight between two opponents or Papadu. Each contender is armed with a shield of cowhide and a baton. As they perform their battle, you’ll hear the loud thump of the baton and quick patter of their fast-moving feet.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the Gendang Beleq, a music and dance performance. A minimum of 17 Sasak performers is needed to bring the Gendang Beleq to life; an assortment of percussionists, a flautist, and at least 5 people to play the Kenceng, a local plate-shaped metal instrument.
- A smile goes a long way. Remember this is a very respectful and gentle culture as you walk through the village.
- Don’t bargain too hard. While this is a bartering culture, it is disrespectful to begin negotiations at less than 50% of the asking price. This community is based on the survival of Sasak culture, not the discount of it.
- Only point using your right hand. In Indonesia it’s not polite to gesture with the left.
- Do not touch elders’ heads. It’s considered patronising and disrespectful. However, touching a child’s head is seen as an expression of affection.
- Dress modestly. Beach wear is not appropriate. As a mark of respect, if you are wearing short pants or an open top, purchase a Sarong to cover up.