Sasak … The Unique Culture of Lombok Island
The local people of Lombok, known as “Sasak”, are believed to be descendents of a Malay race inhabiting Lombok for at least 2,000 years.
The original pioneers probably travelled from the Malaysian peninsula and settled on the coastal areas of Lombok as long as 4,000 years ago.
During the past six hundred years, the island of Lombok was a feudal state, with many small ruling kingdoms; some of which followed
animistic beliefs, while others combined animism with Hinduism or Buddhism. At one stage the main religion on Lombok was Buddhism. Over the centuries,
Java influenced Lombok to varying degrees and ruled over Lombok in the 14th century, incorporating it into the Majapahit Empire. Several small kingdoms
on Lombok were ruled by Javanese nobles who had been exiled to Lombok, and today’s Sasak aristocracy still claims Javanese ancestry.
The Javanese introduced both Hinduism and Islam to Lombok, but their religious and political influence waned by the 17th century.
Islam gradually spread through eastern and central Lombok, while Balinese, and Hindu, influence began dominating western Lombok. The Balinese entered
Lombok from Karangasem during the 17th century, ruling the island for 150 years. Balinese influence always centred in the west, where today Balinese still
constitute more than 10 percent of the population. They cleared forests and engineered irrigation systems and terraces, creating extensive wet-rice
agriculture under the Balinese system of subak.
Going Native - The Lombok Way