Sasak People

Population: 3,600,000

Language: Sasak

Geography: Lombok

Religion: Islam (Wetu Telu), Islam (Waktu Lima), Bodha (Buddhist, Hindu and animistic influences)


Traditional Sasak houses are representative of a family social status and hierarchy and are typically built in rows in the low part of the village. Made in wood and woven bamboo (bedek), they have a thatched roof made in alang-alang and the floor is made of clay and covered in cow dung. In the family compound we also find the lumbung, or rice barn, a wood and bamboo structure built on stilts, and a berugah, namely a stilted wall-less wooden structure used as a resting or dining place and as a place to welcome guests.



Sasak people are famous for the traditional pottery, locally known as “turun temerun”. This old tradition is passed from one generation to the next and mainly preserved by women, for whom this activity often represents the only source of income.

Traditional Sasak pottery is made using a very old technique, which is based on the traditional method of burying the pot in the ground surrounded by burning coconut husks. Clay is sourced locally and pressed and shaped by adding layers. Coconut husks are used to smoothen and refine the pot. Pottery patterns, motifs and designs are distinct to the village of production; the most famous village for pottery crafting is Banyumelek in West Lombok. There, you can observe the traditional pottery making process and find a wide range of handmade items. By purchasing Sasak pottery, you will be contributing to the perpetuation of this tradition and you will support a sustainable livelihood to local women and their families.


Sasak people are fine weavers and their traditional textiles come in a variety of fabrics and patterns unique for each village and use. The most famous villages where to observe traditional hand-woven cloths and weavers at work are Sukarare, Pringgasella and Bayan Beleq, where Lombok’s oldest mosque is also located. Traditional textiles are used in everyday life as well as in ceremonies. Kombong is made from hand-spun cotton and used in hair cutting ceremonies, Striped Ragi Genap is mainly used in local ceremonies, Tapa Kemalu for weddings and Umbaq are the most sacred types; they are woven on specific days of the traditional calendar only by old women and used for the most important ceremonies such as a child’s circumcision.


Most Sasak people in Lombok are Muslim. From the 16th century, the Sasak adopted a syncretic form of Islam, which blends Hindu-Bhuddist influences, Sunni Islam, animism and ancestral worship. Traditional Sasak Islam follow Wetu Telu Islam, which is today practiced only in mountain areas close to Mount Rinjani such as Tetebatu and Sade. The rest of the Sasak population follow Wetu Lima, which is closer to Sunni Islam and practice 5 prayers a day.

Sasak vocabulary

Traditional Wetu Telu Sasak ceremonies

  • Perang Topat: November/December at Lingsar Temple – cultural food fight between Hindus and Muslims

  • Lebaran Topat: After the end of Ramadan at Bintaro cemetery, Ampenan – families leave pfferings and pour water on the graves of the ancestors

  • Malean Sapi: April, Narmada – bull race in the rice fields

  • Peresean: Around Indonesia’s independence day (17th August), Mataram – duel between two men armed with bamboo sticks and shields


Some yummy traditional dishes…

Ayam taliwang – fried or grilled chicken with a chili sauce –

Gule lemak – chicken curry.

Kelor (vegetable soup)

Beberuk – raw eggplant with a chili twang

Lapis – sweet Sasak dessert rice, flour, coconut milk and sugar wrapped in a banana leaf –

Cerotot – cone of rice, flour, coconut milk and palm sugar

Fast Facts

  • The gendang beleq is the Sasak version of the Balinese gamelan, a dance and music performance featuring drums, flutes and cymbals.

  • Texts were written on lontar palm leaves and treated the history of the Sasak kingdoms among other topics. “Lontar” reading, typically performed during ceremonies, is a tradition that is becoming extinct.

SASAK dos and donts



Published on Gili Life

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