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Lombok: Sade Village

I arrived on Lombok Island without a specific travel itinerary plan but only to scuba dive. The diving would start on the following day, and I arrived in the early morning, thus one day to spend before the dive. Sincerely, I did not study the Island prior to my departure. It was a rather impulsive trip, as I felt the urge to dive into a totally new area. I have been to Bali and North Sulawesi multiple times, then back to Raja Ampat in January. Lombok Island sounds appealing, its dive sites are rarely mentioned in the diving recommendations, as the Island is known more for surfing than diving. I will post soon about my diving experience in Lombok – which is an unforgettable one!

Then I decided to rent a car with a local driver to drive me around the Island. It’s a big island, and it’s impossible to explore the whole Island in one day, I asked the driver just to take me to his favourite places in Lombok that are reachable from my hotel. The first destination was Sade Village, a traditional village that still preserves the customs of the Sasak tribe. The Sasak tribe is a native tribe to the Island. To be honest, the name of the village reminds me of the famous singer in 1990-ish… gosh, I do feel old 😀

The village is officially a tourist by the local Tourism Office because the residents have maintained their traditions as indigenous people in Lombok. The village consists of 150 heads of families who live in traditional house buildings with roofs made of fibres and bamboo. The walls of the houses are made of woven bamboo. Below are pictures of me in front of their houses taken by a Sasak guide who led me in exploring the village. Beautiful houses, but it was an extremely hot day, and these houses do not have an air-conditioner inside.

Most of the villagers, especially the women, work as weavers. It’s actually like a requirement for their marriage. They have to be able to make three fabrics called “ikat” for themselves, their husbands and their parents-in-law. Nowadays ikat fabrics are on sale at quite an expensive price.

In Lombok, bride kidnapping is still being practised by the Sasak people. When a girl went missing for more than 1 day it could mean the girl is kidnapped for a wedding. Mind you, a Sasak village is a small community, everyone knows everyone. Usually, the girl’s family has guessed the kidnapping would happen eventually, especially when their daughter has a boyfriend. Just don’t think it will work in a big city like Jakarta. If I had a missing daughter, I would call the cops immediately.

The “Bride Kidnapping’ tradition is not only practised by Sasak communities but as well some ethnic groups in Indonesia on other Islands such as Sumba Island. Unfortunately, the tradition has been abused to justify early marriages. The Indonesian Government has raised the marriage age, yet, it feared the young people who practising the tradition would not register the marriage, which could add another legal risk that disadvantage the young wives and mothers.

We will see if the tradition that brings the young people in love to get married at a very young age will be continued in the long run, as the local communities and their leaders tried to raise awareness of the consequences of early marriage. They also introduce other elements of the tradition to discourage young age brides and grooms. As a divorcee after 15 years of marriage, I have learned the honeymoon phase would not last forever. Like Munia Khan wrote, “The taste of moon is like honey to all honeymooners, but after some times does the moon’s scar make it bitter?”


  1. how come there are no societies that practice ‘Husband-napping?’ Seems very unfair. At one point in life i think it was my only hope lol! But in all serious, i dont know how families cope even if it’s tradition! Thanks for sharing and actually featuring yourself in photos!

    • 😂 i do wonder! I guess that is how majority people sees women…it is sad actually. But in most cases of the bride napping were agreed by the couple. I guess the term is incorrect – they just run together without telling their families 🙈

  2. I’m glad you’re still traveling and having adventures Indah. Thanks for highlighting this interesting village and its traditional customs. And thanks for giving a peek at the woman behind the photos. Hugs, Brad

  3. Bride kidnapping is something I’ve never heard of. So do they kidnap them and have a proper wedding? Is it usually two young people or an older man with a young girl?

    Anyway, that village looks really interesting and beautiful.

  4. This sounded like a wonderful impromptu trip. It was nice of the Sasak guide to take photos of you as you explored. The village houses look beautiful. So interesting to read of the bride kidnapping tradition. Also agree with your thoughts at the end. It takes effort for a partnership to work over time. Hope you are doing well, Indah 🙂

  5. The village looks fascinating Indah although the bride kidnapping lessens my interest. Hoping this is becoming a rarer event as time goes on.

  6. This is really fascinating, Indah. It would have been quite something to discover the traditions of bride kidnapping. The village with their traditional buildings is very beautiful. I love seeing the traditions of the houses & the weaving passed on through the generations. Sadly through the colonization here in Canada those indigenous traditions are all but gone.

    Bride kidnapping is such a grey area. Yes it is tradition. I must read up on it more, but it is my hope these girls/young ladies would not be abused, disadvantaged or subjected to being 2nd class human beings. And that they would have every opportunity in life as much as the males in that society. I certainly wouldn’t want my daughter kidnapped to be a bride. It is good the government has raised the marriage age. Though as you mentioned the marriages still happen regardless. Just do not register the marriage.

    Thank you for sharing, Indah. It was wonderful seeing you in the photos.

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