The Abung of Indonesia
The term "Lampung" is used to describe all of the people groups of that area; but, in fact, there are several very different ethnic groups who live there.
Prior to the fifteenth century, the Abung lived in the mountains to the west. There they practiced a religion that was characterized by sacrifices, headhunting, and other cultic rituals. Around 1450, under the leadership of a cult hero named Minak Begeduh, the first Abung clans emigrated into the lowlands. Today, their culture shows a distinct mix with the coastal Malays.
Recently, the Indonesian government has forcibly relocated three million Javanese into southern Sumatra. As a result, the Abung are experiencing bitterness and unrest.
What are their lives like?
A typical Abung village consists of houses that are built on poles or stilts. These houses center around one municipal building called a sesat. The sesat is generally a one-room house that has been divided into small rooms where people of different classes sit. The village government holds its meetings in the sesat.
Each village also contains a "festival house," where the whole community participates in initiation rites. Their system of initiation and social advancement clearly differentiates them from neighboring people groups.
The fundamental kin group of the Abung is called the suku. The line of descent is traced through the males. Every Abung clan belongs to one of three existing social classes. One's class position determines his obligations to the community. Male clan members may pass from one class to another by various initiation rites.
The Abung are dry rice farmers. The rice is cultivated on clearings made by burning the vegetation. Usually after one harvest of rice, the land is planted with pepper. For centuries this kind of pepper cultivation has provided a cash crop among the Abung. It has also provided an economic base for the celebration of their "tribal feasts," which are often very expensive. Fishing is important in the swampy areas, where dry rice cannot be grown. Domestic animals include water buffalo, cattle, goats, poultry, and ducks.
The diet of the Abung includes rice served with fish, vegetables, water buffalo, beef, or chicken.
What are their beliefs?
Presently, the Abung are devout Sunni Muslims, strictly adhering to its practices. They identify with the Shafiite branch of Islam.
What are their needs?
At the present time, there are no Christian radio or television broadcasts available in the language of the Abung. The Bible has not yet been translated into their dialect.
Although there is one mission agency now targeting the 71,000 Abung, there are still less than 100 known believers.
See also The Lampung of Indonesia.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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