Sundanese people

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Sundanese people
ᮅᮛᮀ ᮞᮥᮔ᮪ᮓ
Urang Sunda
Wedding in action.JPG
A Sundanese couple wearing neo-traditional wedding attire
Total population
c.40-42 million [lower-alpha 1]
Regions with significant populations
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 36,701,670 (2010) [1]
          Flag of West Java (vectorised).svg  West Java 34 million
          Flag of Banten, Indonesia.svg  Banten 2.4 million
          Flag of Jakarta (vectorised).svg  Jakarta 1.5 million
          Flag of Lampung.svg  Lampung 0.6 million
          Flag of Central Java.svg  Central Java 0.3 million
          Flag of South Sumatra (vectorised).svg  South Sumatra 0.1 million
          Flag of Riau.svg  Riau 0.09 million
          Flag of Jambi.svg  Jambi 0.08 million
          Flag of Bengkulu.svg  Bengkulu 0.06 million
          Flag of West Kalimantan.svg  West Kalimantan 0.05 million
          Flag of East Java.svg  East Java 0.04 million
          Flag of Papua 2.svg  Papua 0.03 million
          Flag of Southeast Sulawesi.svg  Southeast Sulawesi 0.02 million
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan ~1,500 (2015) [2]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 8 families (2015) [3]
Related ethnic groups

The Sunda or Sundanese (Sundanese : ᮅᮛᮀ ᮞᮥᮔ᮪ᮓ, romanized: Urang Sunda) are an indigenous ethnic group native to the western region of Java island in Indonesia, primarily West Java. They number approximately 42 million and form Indonesia's second most populous ethnic group. They speak the Sundanese language, which is part of the Austronesian languages.

The western third of the island of Java, namely the provinces of West Java, Banten, and Jakarta, as well as the westernmost part of Central Java, is called by the Sundanese people Tatar Sunda or Pasundan (meaning Sundanese land). [4]

Sundanese migrants can also be found in Lampung and South Sumatra, and to a lesser extent in Central Java and East Java. The Sundanese people can also be found on several other islands in Indonesia such as Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali and Papua.


The name Sunda derives from the Sanskrit prefix su- which means "goodness" or "possessing good quality". An example is Suvarna (lit.'good color') used to describe gold. Sunda is also another name for Hindu God Vishnu. In Sanskrit, the term Sundara (masculine) or Sundari (feminine) means "beautiful" or "excellence". [5] The term Sunda also means bright, light, purity, cleanness and white. [6]


Migration theories

Jaipongan Mojang Priangan, a Sundanese traditional dance performance. Jaipongan Bunga Tanjung 01.jpg
Jaipongan Mojang Priangan, a Sundanese traditional dance performance.

The Sundanese are of Austronesian origins and are thought to have originated in Taiwan. They migrated through the Philippines and reached Java between 1,500 BC and 1,000 BC. [7] Nevertheless, there is also a hypothesis that argues that the Austronesian ancestors of contemporary Sundanese people originally came from Sundaland, a massive sunken peninsula that today forms the Java Sea, the Malacca and Sunda Straits and the islands between them. [8] According to a recent genetic study, Sundanese, together with Javanese and Balinese, has almost an equal ratio of genetic marker shared between Austronesian and Austroasiatic ancestries. [9]

Origin myth

The Sunda Wiwitan belief contains the mythical origin of Sundanese people; Sang Hyang Kersa, the supreme divine being in ancient Sundanese belief created seven bataras (deities) in Sasaka Pusaka Buana (The Sacred Place on Earth). The oldest of these bataras is called Batara Cikal and is considered the ancestor of the Kanekes people. The other six bataras ruled various locations in Sunda lands in Western Java. A Sundanese legend of Sangkuriang contains the memory of the prehistoric ancient lake in Bandung basin highland, which suggest that Sundanese already inhabit the region since the Mesolithic era, at least 20,000 years ago. Another popular Sundanese proverb and legend mentioned the creation of Parahyangan (Priangan) highlands, the heartland of the Sundanese realm; "When the hyangs (gods) were smiling, the land of Parahyangan was created". This legend suggested the Parahyangan highland as the playland or the abode of gods, as well as suggesting its natural beauty.


Hindu-Buddhist Kingdoms era

Batutulis inscription in Bogor, describes the deeds of Sunda King, Sri Baduga Maharaja, popularly known as Prabu Siliwangi. COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Beschreven steen in Batoetoelis de batu tulis TMnr 60016704.jpg
Batutulis inscription in Bogor, describes the deeds of Sunda King, Sri Baduga Maharaja, popularly known as Prabu Siliwangi.

The earliest historical polity that appeared in the Sundanese realm in the Western part of Java was the kingdom of Tarumanagara, which flourished between the 4th and 7th centuries. Hindu influences reached the Sundanese people as early as the 4th century CE, as is evident in Tarumanagara inscriptions. The adoption of this dharmic faith in the Sundanese way of life was, however, never as intense as their Javanese counterparts. It seems that despite the central court beginning to adopt Hindu-Buddhist culture and institution, the majority of common Sundanese still retained their native natural and ancestral worship. By the 4th century, the older megalithic culture was probably still alive and well next to the penetrating Hindu influences. Court cultures flourished in ancient times, for example, during the era of Sunda Kingdom. However, the Sundanese appear not to have had the resources nor desire to construct large religious monuments. [10] The traditional rural Sundanese method of rice farming, by ladang or huma (dry rice farming), also contributed to small populations of sparsely inhabited Sundanese villages.

Geographic constraints that isolate each region also led Sundanese villages to enjoy their simple way of life and their independence even more. That was probably the factor that would contribute to the carefree nature, egalitarian, conservative, independent and somewhat individualistic social outlook of the Sundanese people. The Sundanese seems to love and revere their nature in spiritual ways, leading to them adopting some taboos to conserve nature and maintain the ecosystem. The conservative tendency and their somewhat opposition to foreign influences are demonstrated in extreme isolationist measures adopted keenly by Kanekes or Baduy people. They have rules against interacting with outsiders and adopting foreign ideas, technology, and ways of life. They have also set some taboos, such as not cutting trees or harming forest creatures, to conserve their natural ecosystem.

One of the earliest historical records that mention the name "Sunda" appears in the Sanghyang Tapak inscription dated 952 saka (1030 CE) discovered in Cibadak, near Sukabumi. In 1225, a Chinese writer named Chou Ju-kua, in his book Chu-fan-chi , describes the port of Sin-t'o (Sunda), which probably refers to the port of Banten or Kalapa. By examining these records, it seems that the name "Sunda" started to appear in the early 11th century as a Javanese term used to designate their western neighbours. A Chinese source more specifically refers to it as the port of Banten or Sunda Kelapa. After the formation and consolidation of the Sunda Kingdom's unity and identity during the Pajajaran era under the rule of Sri Baduga Maharaja (popularly known as King Siliwangi), the shared common identity of Sundanese people was more firmly established. They adopted the name "Sunda" to identify their kingdom, their people and their language.

Dutch colonial era

Sundanese boys playing Angklung in Garut, c. 1910-1930. COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Jonge danser begeleid door anklungspelers Garoet TMnr 60019214.jpg
Sundanese boys playing Angklung in Garut, c. 1910–1930.

Inland Pasundan is mountainous and hilly, and until the 19th century, it was thickly forested and sparsely populated. The Sundanese traditionally live in small and isolated hamlets, rendering control by indigenous courts difficult. The Sundanese, traditionally engage in dry-field farming. These factors resulted in the Sundanese having a less rigid social hierarchy and more independent social manners. [10] In the 19th century, Dutch colonial exploitation opened much of the interior for coffee, tea, and quinine production, and the highland society took on a frontier aspect, further strengthening the individualistic Sundanese mindset. [10]

Contemporary era

There is a widespread belief among Indonesian ethnicities that the Sundanese are famous for their beauty. In his report "Summa Oriental" on the early 16th century Sunda Kingdom, Portuguese apothecary Tomé Pires mentioned: "The (Sundanese) women are beautiful, and those of the nobles chaste, which is not the case with those of the lower classes". Sundanese women are, as the belief goes, one of the most beautiful in the country due to the climate (they have a lighter complexion than other Indonesians) and a diet featuring raw vegetables (they are said to possess especially soft skin). Bandungite ladies, popularly known as Mojang Priangan are reputedly pretty, fashion smart and forward-looking. [11] Probably because of this, many Sundanese people today pursue careers in the entertainment industry.


Map showing the location of the Sundanese in Java. Java languages.JPG
Map showing the location of the Sundanese in Java.
Sundanese script Sundanese-consonants.svg
Sundanese script
A Sundanese speaker, recorded in Indonesia.

The Sundanese language is spoken by approximately 36 million people in 2010 [12] and is the second most widely spoken regional language in Indonesia. [13] The 2000 Indonesia Census put this figure at 30.9 million. This language is spoken in the southern part of the Banten province, [14] and most of West Java and eastwards as far as the Pamali River in Brebes, Central Java. [15]

Sundanese is also closely related to Malay and Minang as it is to Javanese, as seen by the Sundanese utilising different language levels denoting rank and respect – a concept borrowed from the Javanese. [10] It shares similar vocabularies with Javanese and Malay. There are several dialects of Sundanese, from the Sunda–Banten dialect to the Sunda–Cirebonan dialect in the eastern part of West Java until the western part of Central Java Province. Some of the most distinct dialects are from Banten, Bogor, Priangan, and Cirebon. In Central Java, Sundanese is spoken in some of the Cilacap region and some of the Brebes region. It is known that the most refined Sundanese dialect — which is considered as its original form – are those spoken in Ciamis, Tasikmalaya, Garut, Bandung, Sumedang, Sukabumi, and especially Cianjur (The dialect spoken by people living in Cianjur is considered as the most refined Sundanese). The dialect spoken on the north coast, Banten and Cirebon are considered less refined, and the language spoken by Baduy people is considered the archaic type of Sundanese language, [16] before the adoption of the concept of language stratification to denote rank and respect as demonstrated (and influenced) by Javanese.

Today, the Sundanese language is primarily written in Latin script. However, there is an effort to revive the Sundanese script, which was used between the 14th and 18th centuries. For example, street names in Bandung and several cities in West Java are now written in both Latin and Sundanese scripts.


Cangkuang temple, the 8th century Hindu temple near Garut testify the Sundanese Hindu past. Cangkuangtemple.jpg
Cangkuang temple, the 8th century Hindu temple near Garut testify the Sundanese Hindu past.
Akad nikah, Sundanese Islamic wedding vows in front of penghulu and witnesses. COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Sundanese bruiloft in een moskee TMnr 20017927.jpg
Akad nikah, Sundanese Islamic wedding vows in front of penghulu and witnesses.

The initial religious systems of the Sundanese were animism and dynamism with reverence to ancestral (karuhun) and natural spirits identified as hyang , yet bears some traits of pantheism. The best indications are found in the oldest epic poems (wawacan) and among the remote Baduy tribe. This religion is called Sunda Wiwitan ("early Sundanese"). [17] The rice agriculture had shaped the culture, beliefs and ritual system of traditional Sundanese people, among other the reverence to Nyai Pohaci Sanghyang Asri as the goddess of rice and fertility. The land of Sundanese people in western Java is among the earliest places in the Indonesian archipelago that were exposed to Indian Hindu-Buddhist influences. Tarumanagara followed by Sunda Kingdom adopted Hinduism as early as the 4th century. The Batujaya stupa complex in Karawang shows Buddhist influences in West Java, while Cangkuang Shivaic temple near Garut shows Hindu influence. The 16th-century sacred text Sanghyang siksakanda ng karesian contains the religious and moral rules, guidance, prescriptions and lessons for ancient Sundanese people.

Around the 15th to 16th centuries, Islam began to spread among the Sundanese people by Indian Muslim traders, and its adoption accelerated after the fall of the Hindu-animist Sunda Kingdom and the establishment of the Islamic Sultanates of Banten and Cirebon in coastal West Java. Numerous ulama (locally known as "kyai") penetrated villages in the mountainous regions of Parahyangan and established mosques and schools (pesantren) and spread the Islamic faith amongst the Sundanese people. Small traditional Sundanese communities retained their indigenous social and belief systems, adopting self-imposed isolation, and refused foreign influences, proselytism and modernisation altogether, such as those of the Baduy (Kanekes) people of inland Lebak Regency. Some Sundanese villages such as those in Cigugur Kuningan retained their Sunda Wiwitan beliefs, while some villages such as Kampung Naga in Tasikmalaya, and Sindang Barang Pasir Eurih in Bogor, although identifying themselves as Muslim, still uphold pre-Islamic traditions and taboos and venerated the karuhun (ancestral spirits). Today, most Sundanese are Sunni Muslims.

After western Java fell under the control of Dutch East India Company (VOC) in the early 18th century, and later under the Dutch East Indies, Christian evangelism towards the Sundanese people was started by missionaries of Genootschap voor In- en Uitwendige Zending te Batavia (GIUZ). This organisation was founded by Mr F. L. Anthing and Pastor E. W. King in 1851. However, it was Nederlandsche Zendelings Vereeniging (NZV) that sent their missionaries to convert the Sundanese peoples. They started the mission in Batavia, later expanding into several towns in West Java such as Bandung, Cianjur, Cirebon, Bogor and Sukabumi. They built schools, churches and hospitals for native people in West Java. Compared to the large Sundanese Muslim population, the numbers of Christian Sundanese are scarce. Today, Christians in West Java are mostly Chinese Indonesians residing in West Java, with only small numbers of native Sundanese Christians.

A Hindu shrine dedicated to King Siliwangi in the Hindu temple Pura Parahyangan Agung Jagatkarta, Bogor, West Java. Pura Parahyangan Agung Jagatkartta, Candi Siliwangi Shrine.jpg
A Hindu shrine dedicated to King Siliwangi in the Hindu temple Pura Parahyangan Agung Jagatkarta, Bogor, West Java.

In contemporary Sundanese social and religious life, there is a growing shift towards Islamism, especially amongst urban Sundanese. [18] [19] Compared to the 1960s, many Sundanese Muslim women today have decided to wear hijab. The same phenomenon was also found earlier in the Malay community in Sumatra and Malaysia. Modern history saw the rise of political Islam through the birth of Darul Islam Indonesia in Tasikmalaya, West Java, back in 1949, although this movement was later cracked down by the Indonesian Republic. In modern contemporary political landscapes, the Sundanese realm in West Java and Banten also provides widespread support for Islamic parties such as the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the United Development Party (PPP). There are numbers of Sundanese ulama and Islamic preachers who have been successful in gaining national popularity, such as Kyai Abdullah Gymnastiar and Mamah Dedeh who have become TV personalities through their dakwah show. There is an increasing number of Sundanese people who consider the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) as something that enjoys social prestige. On the other hand, there is also a movement led by the minority Sundanese conservative traditionalist adat, the Sunda Wiwitan community, who are struggling to achieve wider acceptance and recognition of their faith and way of life.


Family and social relations

Elderly Sundanese woman near a rice paddy, at Garut, West Java. Sundanese Grandma.jpg
Elderly Sundanese woman near a rice paddy, at Garut, West Java.

Sundanese culture is similar to that of Javanese culture. However, it differs by a much less rigid system of social hierarchy. [10] The Sundanese, in their mentality and behaviour, their greater egalitarianism and antipathy to yawning class distinctions, and their community-based material culture, differ from the feudal hierarchy apparent among the people of Javanese principalities. [20] Central Javanese court culture nurtured in an atmosphere conducive to elite, stylised, impeccably-polished forms of art and literature. In a pure sense, Sundanese culture bore few traces of these traditions. [21]

Culturally, the Sundanese people adopt a bilateral kinship system, with male and female descent of equal importance. In Sundanese families, the important rituals revolved around life cycles, from birth to death, adopting many of the previous Animist and Hindu-Buddhist, as well as Islamic traditions. For example, during the seventh month of pregnancy, there is a prenatal ritual called Nujuh Bulanan (identical to Naloni Mitoni in Javanese tradition) which traces its origins to Hindu ritual. Shortly after the birth of a baby, a ritual called Akekahan (from Arabic word: Aqiqah) is performed; an Islamic tradition in which the parents slaughter a goat for a baby girl or two goats for a baby boy, the meat later being cooked and distributed to relatives and neighbours. The circumcision ceremony is performed on pre-pubescent boys and celebrated with Sisingaan (lion) dance.

The wedding ceremony is the highlight of Sundanese family celebration involving complex rituals from naroskeun and neundeun omong (marriage proposal and agreement conducted by parents and family elders), siraman (bridal shower), seserahan (presenting wedding gifts for the bride), akad nikah (wedding vows), saweran (throwing coins, mixed with flower petals and sometimes also candies, for the unmarried guests to collect and believed to bring better luck in romance), huap lingkung (bride and groom feed each other by the hand, with arms entwined to symbolize love and affection), bakakak hayam (bride and groom ripping a grilled chicken through holding each of its legs; a traditional way to determine which one will dominate the family which is the one that gets the larger or head part), and the wedding feast inviting whole family and business relatives, neighbours, and friends as guests. Death in a Sundanese family is usually performed through a series of rituals in accordance with traditional Islam, such as the pengajian (reciting Al Quran) including providing berkat (rice box with side dishes) for guests. The Quran recitation is performed daily, from the day of death through the seventh day following; later performed again on the 40th day, a year, and the 1,000th day after the passing. This tradition today, however, is not always closely and faithfully followed since growing numbers of Sundanese are adopting a less traditional Islam which does not maintain many of the older traditions.[ citation needed ]


Wayang Golek, traditional Sundanese puppetry. Wayang Golek Sunda PRJ 2.jpg
Wayang Golek, traditional Sundanese puppetry.

Sundanese literature was basically oral. Their arts (such as architecture, music, dance, textiles, and ceremonies) substantially preserved traditions from an earlier phase of civilization, stretching back even to the Neolithic, and never overwhelmed (as eastward, in Java) by aristocratic Hindu-Buddhist ideas. [21] The art and culture of Sundanese people reflect historical influences by various cultures that include prehistoric native animism and shamanism traditions, ancient Hindu-Buddhist heritage, and Islamic culture. The Sundanese have very vivid, orally-transmitted memories of the grand era of the Sunda Kingdom. [21] The oral tradition of Sundanese people is called Pantun Sunda, a chant of poetic verses employed for story-telling. It is the counterpart of the Javanese tembang, similar to but independent from Malay pantun. The Pantun Sunda often recount Sundanese folklore and legends such as Sangkuriang, Lutung Kasarung, Ciung Wanara, Mundinglaya Dikusumah, the tales of King Siliwangi, and popular children's folk stories such as Si Leungli.


Traditional Sundanese arts include various forms of music, dance, and martial arts. The most notable types of Sundanese music are angklung bamboo music, kecapi suling music, gamelan degung, reyog Sunda and rampak gendang. The Angklung bamboo musical instrument is considered one of the world heritages of intangible culture. [22]

SambaSunda music performance, featuring traditional Sundanese music instruments such as kecapi, suling, and kendang. SambaSunda Quintett in Cologne (0244).jpg
SambaSunda music performance, featuring traditional Sundanese music instruments such as kecapi, suling, and kendang.

The most well known and distinctive Sundanese dances are Jaipongan, [23] a traditional social dance which is usually, but mistakenly, associated with eroticism. Other popular dances such as the Merak dance describe colourful dancing peafowls. Sisingaan dance is performed mainly in the Subang area to celebrate the circumcision ritual where the boy is seated upon a lion figure carried by four men. Other dances such as the Peafowl dance, Dewi dance and Ratu Graeni dance show Javanese Mataram courtly influences.

Wayang golek puppetry is the most popular wayang performance for Sundanese people. Many forms of kejawen dance, literature, gamelan music and shadow puppetry ( wayang kulit ) derive from the Javanese. [10] Sundanese puppetry is more influenced by Islamic folklore than the influence of Indian epics present in Javanese versions. [10]

The Pencak silat martial art in Sundanese tradition can be traced to the historical figure King Siliwangi of the Sunda Pajajaran kingdom, with Cimande as one of the most prominent schools. The recently developed Tarung Derajat is also a popular martial art in West Java. Kujang is the traditional weapon of the Sundanese people.


Traditional Sundanese house with Capit Gunting shape in Papandak, Garut. COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Huizen in Papandak TMnr 60050402.jpg
Traditional Sundanese house with Capit Gunting shape in Papandak, Garut.

The architecture of a Sundanese house is characterised by its functionality, simplicity, modesty, uniformity with little details, its use of natural thatched materials, and its quite faithful adherence to harmony with nature and the environment. [24]

Sundanese traditional houses mostly take basic form of gable roofed structure, commonly called kampung style roof, made of thatched materials (ijuk black aren fibers, kirai, hateup leaves or palm leaves) covering wooden frames and beams, woven bamboo walls, and its structure is built on short stilts. Its roof variations might includes hip and gablet roof (a combination of gable and hip roof).

The more elaborate overhanging gablet roof is called Julang Ngapak, which means "bird spreading wings". Other traditional Sundanese house forms including Buka Pongpok, Capit Gunting, Jubleg Nangkub, Badak Heuay, Tagog Anjing, and Perahu Kemureb. [25]

Next to houses, rice barn or called leuit in Sundanese is also an essential structure in the traditional Sundanese agricultural community. Leuit is essential during Seren Taun harvest ceremony. [26]


A typical modest Sundanese meal consists of steamed rice, fried salted fish, sayur asem (vegetable with tamarind based soup), lalab sambal (raw vegetables salad with chili paste) and karedok (vegetable salad with peanuts paste). Sundanese Food 02.JPG
A typical modest Sundanese meal consists of steamed rice, fried salted fish, sayur asem (vegetable with tamarind based soup), lalab sambal (raw vegetables salad with chili paste) and karedok (vegetable salad with peanuts paste).

Sundanese cuisine is one of the most famous traditional food in Indonesia, and it is also easily found in most Indonesian cities. The Sundanese food is characterised by its freshness; the famous lalab (raw vegetables salad) eaten with sambal (chili paste), and also karedok (peanuts paste) demonstrate the Sundanese fondness for fresh raw vegetables. Similar to other ethnic groups in Indonesia, Sundanese people eat rice for almost every meal. The Sundanese like to say, "If you have not eaten rice, then you have not eaten at all." Rice is prepared in hundreds of different ways. However, it is simple steamed rice that serves as the centrepiece of all meals.

Next to steamed rice, the side dishes of vegetables, fish, or meat are added to provide a variety of tastes as well as for protein, mineral and nutrient intake. These side dishes are grilled, fried, steamed or boiled and spiced with any combination of garlic, galangal (a plant of the ginger family), turmeric, coriander, ginger, and lemongrass. The herb-rich food wrapped and cooked inside banana leaf called pepes (Sundanese: pais) is popular among Sundanese people. Pepes are available in many varieties according to their ingredients; carp fish, anchovies, minced meat with eggs, mushroom, tofu or oncom. Oncom is a fermented peanut-based ingredient that is prevalent within Sundanese cuisine, just like its counterpart, Tempe, which is popular among Javanese people. Usually, the food itself is not too spicy, but it is served with a boiling sauce made by grinding chilli peppers and garlic together. On the coast, saltwater fish are common; in the mountains, fish tend to be either pond-raised carp or goldfish. A well-known Sundanese dish is lalapan, which consists only of raw vegetables, such as papaya leaves, cucumber, eggplant, and bitter melon. [27]

In general, Sundanese food tastes rich and savoury, but not as rich as Padang food, nor as sweet as Javanese food. [28]

In Sundanese culture, there is a culture of eating together known as Cucurak in the Bogor area or Munggahan in the Priangan area. This tradition is usually carried out together with extended family or colleagues when approaching Ramadan. [29]


A Sundanese Leuit (rice barn), initially Sundanese are rice farmers. Leuit os 080815-2283 srna.jpg
A Sundanese Leuit (rice barn), initially Sundanese are rice farmers.

The traditional occupation of Sundanese people is agricultural, especially rice cultivation. Sundanese culture and tradition are usually centred around the agricultural cycle. Festivities such as the Seren Taun harvest ceremony are held in high importance, especially in the traditional Sundanese community in Ciptagelar village, Cisolok, Sukabumi; Sindang Barang, Pasir Eurih village, Taman Sari, Bogor; and the traditional Sundanese community in Cigugur Kuningan. [30] The typical Sundanese leuit (rice barn) is an important part of traditional Sundanese villages; it is held in high esteem as the symbol of wealth and welfare. Since early times, the Sundanese have predominantly been farmers. [21] They tend to be reluctant to be government officers or legislators. [31]

Next to agriculture, Sundanese people often choose business and trade to make a living although most are traditional entrepreneurs, such as travelling food or drink vendors, establishing modest warung (food stalls) or restaurants, as the vendor of daily consumer's goods or open a modest barber shop. Their affinity for establishing and running small-scale entrepreneurship is most likely contributed by the Sundanese tendency to be independent, carefree, egalitarian, individualistic and optimistic. They seem to abhor the rigid structure and rules of government offices. Several traditional travelling food vendors and food stalls such as Siomay, Gado-gado and Karedok, Nasi Goreng, Cendol, Bubur Ayam, Roti Bakar (grilled bread), Bubur kacang hijau (green beans congee) and Indomie instant noodle stall are notably run by Sundanese.

Nevertheless, there are numbers of Sundanese that successfully carved their career as intellectuals or politicians in national politics, government offices and military positions. Some notable Sundanese has gained positions in the Indonesian government as governor, municipal major, vice president and state ministers, also as officers and general in the Indonesian military.

Sundanese is also popularly known as cheerful and mercurial folks, as they love to joke and tease around. The wayang golek artform of Cepot, Dawala, and Gareng punakawan characters demonstrate the Sundanese quirky side. Some Sundanese might find art and culture as their passion and become artists, either in fine art, music or performing art. Today, there are several Sundanese involved in the music and entertainment industry, with some of Indonesia's most famous singers, musicians, composers, cinema directors, film and sinetrons (soap opera) actors being of Sundanese origin. [32]

Notable people

A depiction of King Siliwangi or Sri Baduga Maharaja, in Keraton Kasepuhan Cirebon. Prabu Siliwangi Portrait.jpg
A depiction of King Siliwangi or Sri Baduga Maharaja, in Keraton Kasepuhan Cirebon.

Notable Sundanese that has been recognised as Indonesian national heroes include Dewi Sartika that fought for equality for women's education, and statesmen such as Oto Iskandar di Nata and Djuanda Kartawidjaja. Former governor of Jakarta Ali Sadikin, former vice president Umar Wirahadikusumah, and former defence minister Agum Gumelar, and ministers of foreign affairs such as Mochtar Kusumaatmadja, Hassan Wirajuda and Marty Natalegawa, Meutya Hafid are among notable Sundanese in politics. Ajip Rosidi and Achdiat Karta Mihardja are among Indonesian distinguished poets and writers.

Today, in the modern Indonesian entertainment industry, there are large numbers of Sundanese artists that have become Indonesia's most famous singers, musicians, composers, cinema directors, film and sinetron actors. Famous dangdut singers Rhoma Irama, Elvy Sukaesih and, musicians and composers such as Erwin Gutawa and singers such as Roekiah, Hetty Koes Endang, Vina Panduwinata, Nicky Astria, Nike Ardilla, Poppy Mercury, Rossa, Gita Gutawa and Syahrini, Indonesian sinetrons actors such as Raffi Ahmad, Jihan Fahira and Asmirandah Zantman, also stunt choreographer, movie action star Kang Cecep Arif Rahman, also film director Nia Dinata, are among artists of Sundanese background. Famous wayang golek puppet master was Asep Sunandar Sunarya, while Sule, Jojon and Kang Ibing are a popular comedians. In sports, Indonesian athletes of Sundanese background include badminton Olympic gold medalists Taufik Hidayat and Ricky Subagja.

See also


  1. The total figure is merely an estimation; sum of all the referenced populations below.

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The angklung is a musical instrument from the Sundanese people in Indonesia made of a varying number of bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. The tubes are carved to have a resonant pitch when struck and are tuned to octaves, similar to Western handbells. The base of the frame is held in one hand, while the other hand shakes the instrument, causing a repeating note to sound. Each performer in an angklung ensemble is typically responsible for just one pitch, sounding their individual angklung at the appropriate times to produce complete melodies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baduy people</span> Ethnic group in Indonesia

Baduy people are an indigenous Sundanese ethnic group native to the southeastern part of Banten specifically Lebak Regency on western hemisphere of Java island in Indonesia.

<i>Wayang wong</i> Indonesian traditional theatre

Wayang wong, also known as wayang orang, is a type of classical Javanese and Balinese dance theatrical performance with themes taken from episodes of the Ramayāna or Mahabharāta. Performances are stylised, reflecting Javanese court culture:

Wayang wong dance drama in the central Javanese Kraton of Yogyakarta represents the epitome of Javanese aesthetic unity. It is total theatre involving dance, drama, music, visual arts, language, and literature. A highly cultured sense of formality permeates every aspect of its presentation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dance in Indonesia</span> Classical to folk dance arts of Indonesia

Dance in Indonesia reflects the country's diversity of ethnicities and cultures. There are more than 1,300 ethnic groups in Indonesia. Austronesian roots and Melanesian tribal forms are visible, and influences ranging from neighboring Asian and even western styles through colonization. Each ethnic group has its own dances: there are more than 3,000 original dance forms in Indonesia. The old traditions of dance and drama are being preserved in the many dance schools which flourish not only in the courts but also in the modern, government-run or supervised art academies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kasepuhan</span>

The Kasepuhan or Kasepuhan Banten Kidul are a traditional Sundanese community of approximately 5,300 people, who live in the southern part of Gunung Halimun National Park, in the Indonesian province of West Java. Gunung Halimun National Park is located within the borders of the Sukabumi Regency, Bogor and southern Banten province. The Kasepuhan is called "Kasepuhan Banten Kidul", their main village is Ciptagelar in the Cisolok subdistrict (kecamatan) in the western part of the Sukabumi Regency. The current head of the community, Abah Ugih, inherited the position of leader when his father, Abah Anom, died at the age of 54.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bantenese people</span> Ethnic group in Indonesia

The Bantenese people are an indigenous Sundanese-speaking ethnic group native to Banten in the westernmost hemiphere of Java island, Indonesia. The area of Banten province corresponds more or less with the area of the former Banten Sultanate, a Bantenese nation state that preceded Indonesia. In his book "The Sultanate of Banten", Guillot Claude writes on page 35: “These estates, owned by the Bantenese of Chinese descent, were concentrated around the village of Kelapadua.” Most of Bantenese are Sunni Muslim. The Bantenese speak the Bantenese language, a variety of the Sundanese language which does not have a general linguistic register, this language is called Basa Sunda Banten.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sunda Kingdom</span> Hindu kingdom on the island of Java from 669 to 1579

The Sunda Kingdom was a Sundanese Hindu kingdom located in the western portion of the island of Java from 669 to around 1579, covering the area of present-day Banten, Jakarta, West Java, and the western part of Central Java. The capital of the Sunda Kingdom moved several times during its history, shifting between the Galuh (Kawali) area in the east and Pakuan Pajajaran in the west.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parahyangan</span> Cultural region in West Java, Indonesia

Parahyangan is a cultural and mountainous region in West Java province on the Indonesian island of Java. Covering a little less than one sixth of Java, it is the heartland of Sundanese people and their culture. It is bordered to the West by Banten province, to the North by the northern coast region of Subang, Cirebon and Indramayu, to the east by Central Java province, and to the south by the Indian Ocean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hyang</span> Spiritual entity in Java-Bali mythology

Hyang is a representation of the Supreme Being, in ancient Java and Bali mythology. This spiritual entity can be either divine or ancestral. The reverence for this spiritual entity can be found in the folk religions of Java and Bali, such as the Sunda Wiwitan, Kejawen, Kapitayan, and Gama Tirta. The realm where Hyang resides is called the Kahyangan, which is an Old Javanese term that literally means "the abode of Hyang", "part of Hyang", or "heaven".

<i>Sunda Wiwitan</i> Indonesian ethnic religion

Sunda Wiwitan is an indigenous folk religion of the Baduy, Banten, Cirebonese and Sundanese people native to the western hemisphere of Java, Indonesia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dewi Sri</span> Hindu Goddess of rice and fertility in Indonesia

Dewi Sri or Shridevi (Sundanese: ᮑᮄ ᮕᮧᮠᮎᮤ ᮞᮀᮠᮡᮀ ᮃᮞᮢᮤ, Nyai Pohaci Sanghyang Asri) is the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese Hindu Goddess of rice and fertility, still widely worshiped on the islands of Java, Bali and Lombok, Indonesia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seren taun</span> Sundanese rice harvest festival

Seren Taun is an annual traditional Sundanese rice harvest festival and ceremony. The festival was originally held to mark the new agriculture year in the Sundanese ancient calendar as well as thanks giving for the blessings of the abundance rice harvest, and also to pray for the next successful harvest. Seren Taun demonstrates the Sundanese agricultural way of life, and is held in high regard in Sundanese traditional villages, as the festival draw thousands Sundanese villagers to participate as well as Indonesian or foreign visitors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wawacan Sulanjana</span>

Wawacan Sulanjana is a Sundanese manuscript containing Sundanese myths. The title means "The Tale of Sulanjana", derived from the name of the hero Sulanjana as the protector of rice plant against the attack of Sapi Gumarang cow, Kalabuat and Budug Basu boars symbolizing rice pestilence. The Wawacan Sulanjana contains Sundanese local wisdom through reverence of rice cultivation in its tradition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sundanese dance</span> Sundanese traditional dance, Indonesia

Sundanese dances is a dance tradition that is a part of ritual, artistic expression as well as entertainment and social conduct among the Sundanese people of West Java and Banten, Indonesia. Sundanese dance is usually cheerful, dynamic and expressive, with flowing movements in-sync with the beat of kendang accompanied with Gamelan degung music ensemble.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Indonesian art</span> Overview of the art in Indonesia

It is quite difficult to define Indonesian art, since the country is immensely diverse. The sprawling archipelago nation consists of 17.000 islands. Around 922 of those permanently inhabited, by over 1,300 ethnic groups, which speak more than 700 living languages.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Sunda Kingdom</span>

The history of Sunda Kingdom spanned almost a millennium, between 7th to 16th century. It is not sure however, whether the Sunda Kingdom was actually a continuous polity or not, nor whether its rulers belongs to a single continuous lineage of dynasty or not. This is because the scarcity of evidences, historical records and archaeological findings that plausibly connected to this kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ciptagelar people</span> Ethnic group in Indonesia

The Ciptagelar is a group indigenous people which is part of the sub-Sundanese who inhabit the area around the Salak and Halimun Mountains in Indonesia, precisely in Kasepuhan Ciptagelar, Sirnaresmi Village, Cisolok District, Sukabumi Regency whose territory is directly adjacent to Cilograng District, Lebak Regency in Banten.


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Further reading