Friday, April 01, 2011


On telly at the moment there is a program about a tourism village in Banyuwangi, East Java, called Kemiren. The elderly ladies still chew bettle nut leaves just like my late great-grandma. The village is home to Osing tribe, a decendent from Majapahit. The indigenous tribe of Banyuwangi area. They have their own language which is different than Javanese or Madurese. They are closer to ancient Javanese and Balinese. Interestingly there are English influence in the language. For example:
Nagud from 'no good' means 'bad'
Ngepos from 'pause' means 'to stop'
Enjong from 'enjoy' means 'fun'
Poket from 'pocket' means 'shirt pocket'
Sumer from 'summer' means 'fever'
I think there were plenty English speaking people in the area back in the days, because some of the villages have English/Gaelic (?) name such as "Glenmore", "Glenfalloch", "Glenlevi". If I remember correctly Glen means 'valley' in Gaelic. There is also an area called Inggrisan where it used to be a trade office of the British in the area back in 17th century. Raffles wrote about Osing people in his book History of Java where it said that the population of Osing was reduced from 80000 to 8000 by 1811. This probably due to Puputan Bayu (war to the end of life) against VOC around 1780s.

Osing people used to be Hindu/Buddhist just like in Majapahit but nowadays more and more people becoming Moslem. Eventho it is said that Balinese were also descendent from Majapahit, Osing doesnt have any 'kasta' in its society.

In the area, people still farms and they have a small train for sight seeing around he plantation. I went to one of such plantation when I was a kid, it was great. We went to see and try all the farming life. The vanilla trees, cacao trees, all that we normally see in the supermarket in packages we could see it in the plantation.

The weather is also very nice as it is up in the mountain.

One thing though, Osing just like a lot of people in Banyuwangi are into mystic. Some are into black magic and they could kill you. I've seen it happened before. Patient came to the doctor with an unexplainable sickness. Sometimes it showed in the röntgen result metals object inside their body. Needles, Iron rod, things like that. When it happens the doctor would suggest that you go to some paranormal to get rid of them, because modern medicine wont work.

This part of culture is even in corporated in one of their dances, called "Gandrung". One of the Gandrung dance is about a guy who was in love with this girl and was rejected. He then use black magic to make the girl falling for him. After this happened the girl chases him like crazy and now it's his turn to refuse her.

The video below shows a popular Osing song about the moon:


colson said...

Interesting info on an interesting tribe.

The way you write about it makes me wonder whether I should add Kemiren to my 'places to see'? :)

But on the other hand, being a tourist destination, isn't it the kind of fake authentic like Marken or Zaanse Schans are over here?

triesti said...

From what I see from the telly it is still authentic. Unlike Bali. but it takes about 7 hours by car from Surabaya or Denpasar to reach the area. On second thought.. you might want to look for a flight from Bali/Surabaya to Banyuwangi or Jember.

I always suggest people to go to Banyuwangi, but seem like the distance is the problem.