Bibliographic data

Ali, Raden Mohamad: Perdjuangan Feodal. Bandung; Batavia: Ganaco, 1954, 5–8.

"Indonesia outside of Indonesia"

[p. 5]


Approximately 3500 years ago, the Indonesian people were not in Indonesia yet. Our people were still in a place far from our homeland a .

This fact is not astonishing and does not come as a surprise. The majority of the people in this world have not always been in the place they are today but came from other countries. This is called the m o v e m e n t o f p e o p l e.

It was like that with our people. 3500 years ago, our people lived in Father India, what is today called Vietnam. There were big rivers: the Mekong, the Irrawaddy, the Salween. In the valleys of these rivers and at their shores were the rice fields and fields of the old -Indonesian people.

[Black-and-white photograph of dark skinned, bare-chested men wearing loincloths.]

[caption:] ± 1500, the Indonesian people looked more or less like this . . . . . .

Our ancestors travelled the ocean along the coast and the far away islands. They cultivated land, bred cattle and also sailed. They sailed the ocean surrounding their settlements and explored it up to remote islands.

There, they also cultivated the land, bred cattle and sailed.

Because their life was already complex and dangerous, they were most likely strong and brave people. There, their life did not differ considerably from that in Kalimantan today. The rice fields and fields were surrounded by the jungle which was not inhabited by wild animals. With their narrow and small boats, they bravely crossed the ocean around them, the surrounding sea was explored. They were a strong, brave, powerful and skilled people.

There were some mountains and river valleys in the north of the country which were inhabited by another people. These people were attacked by the Chinese from the north and also by the Han b from the west. The pressure grew stronger until they were forced to move to the south.

[p. 6]

The Indonesian people no longer had a safe life. These people that had been attacked occupied their land, seized and devastated it.

Such atmospheres are always conducive to interminable wars, making survival very difficult. The longer such a situation lasts, the more difficult and dangerous it becomes. Therefore they had only the following choices:

1. To become slaves of the conquerors.

2. To escape from there to find another place to live.

3. To oppose the conquerors until they could be driven out.

How hard it must have been for our people to make a choice.

The roots of their souls were already planted deep in their beloved land. They would miss the wide fields, they would miss the tremendous jungle; they would miss the beautiful beach. They were not able to defeat the conquerors, because the power of the conquerors was limitless. Conquerors must conquer, because they also have to live. They were an army which always attacked and never hesitated to destroy and to plunder with a strong cruelty. Whatever the control over our ancestors was like, they could not endure it. To leave their homeland. . . . . . . . . . this also seemed difficult. However, the love for this homeland would endanger them. They would certainly become the slaves of another people! This was absolutely not what they wanted!

The wide, even land, the vast sea and the tremendous jungle already made them a people who also did not want to obey anybody.

They had always lived in an independent atmosphere, without having been disturbed by anybody.

They wanted to stay independent. This strong wish was proven by the wild war against their conquerors, but in the end they lost. Well, we can imagine how hard it was for our ancestors to focus their hearts c on leaving their homeland. But they also coped with such a large sacrifice as this.

This is the reason why the Indonesian people came to Indonesia. With small boats each family left their place of origin. d Gradually, they moved southwards. Where to go? They could not feel it. Where to go? They did not ask. Only one direction made their hearts beat faster, e namely: to look for a new homeland in order to live an independent and happy life.

We can imagine the small boats which sailed along the coast from north to south, full of people. Cheerfully they went further south until God gave them a place to settle.


This movement of the Indonesian people from the north to the south did not happen at once , but gradually . Successively, they arrived in today’s Indonesia. They occupied the whole coastline from the western tip to the eastern tip. As if they were a strong army which occupied foreign lands without looking at anything else. They chose a place which matched their needs, namely a place where they were able to cultivate the land and which also gave them the opportunity to sail. They did not sacrifice the customs of their place of origin.

Thus, everywhere along the coast one could find their villages.

The houses were built like the ones which can be found in the villages of the Dayak in Kalimantan today. The natural surroundings still consist of a jungle which is full of danger.

[p. 7]

We must not forget to say that the Indonesian islands were not empty at the time, but also inhabited by people.

These people were very different from our ancestors. They were short, their hair was curly and their skin was very black. They lived together in villages f , which were hidden in the jungle.

These natives also did not like the arrival of enemies from the other side either. Therefore, rough fights ensued day and night with no end in sight. Not only did they fight against this enemy, but against wild animals lurking on their victims. The life of our ancestors was always overshadowed by danger from the left and the right, from the top and the bottom.

Day and night they had to be watchful. Since the enemies attacked them at night, it is easy to understand that the natives gave them names like devil g , Jinn h because of their brutality and their nightly attacks.

[Black-and-white image of low quality. It shows a fat figure (probably made of brass, copper or another type of metal) with short, curly hair, bulging eyes, a big, flat nose and thick lips. The figure is carrying something on its neck and is wearing a fur.]

[caption:] An Indonesian leader from the time when we conquered the Indonesian homeland.

The tales about these fights and clashes are still present in our belief in demit , Jinn, Gandharva, devil, bangsa halus i , and so on.

Tigers, large and small snakes, boars and other wild animals lurked in the trees and under the stilt houses.

Dangerous, never-ending floods were a constant threat. Obviously, their life was really hard. The dreadful forest, loneliness everywhere created a less pleasant atmosphere, so that a belief appeared in their hearts which really disturbed their souls j . Generally, this belief is ascribed to superstitious people.

To limit the danger from the natives, they were chased into the mountains and forest. Therefore, we can see today that our ancestors also left the coast, initially to persecute their enemies, but eventually not to return to the beach again. They just left the knowledge about the continuous cultivation of the land behind.

They defeated the natives easily, because they had more advanced weapons. The natives did not yet know sharp weapons which could be used quickly: kris k arrows.

The life of the natives was also dependent on the forest, while our ancestors did not need the forest as they were able to cultivate land.

[p. 8]

Thus, gradually the natives were pushed back south until they finally disappeared from Indonesia. This fight cannot be compared with the military movements of today. Far from that. The displacement of the natives lasted hundreds of years and was accompanied by endless battles and fights.

It is clear that the ancestors of the Indonesian people did not simply receive a homeland. But with great effort, with bitter fights which were very hard and cruel. God had the mercy to give the Indonesian homeland to our people, not because our ancestors prayed every day, but because of their strong deeds! Our homeland was obtained with effort, snatched from the natives who finally disappeared. Only through this fight did the homeland of Indonesia appear. Indonesia was born out of the efforts of the Indonesian people themselves.


[a] See glossary entry Tanah Air .

[b] Editor’s note: In the original text the word Hun referring to Huns is used but it seems more likely that the Han(-Chinese) are meant, because in the 2nd century BC there was considerable Han migration to Vietnam.

[c] Editor’s note: In the original text the term hati , literally translated as liver , is used. In Indonesia, as in some other countries, the liver was initially deemed the seat of emotions. Today, the imagery has occasionally merged. Thus, somebody who has a broken heart would rather place their hand in front of their chest than holding their belly. See also glossary entry heart .

[d] Translator’s note: In the original text the term tanah mulanya is used, which means place of their beginning . Since in the case of the moving proto-Indonesians it refers to migrants of the second generation at least, the more common term place of origin is used here.

[e] Translator’s note: In the original text an expression is used which literally translates as to enlarge the heart/the liver . This term refers to a pleasant feeling or a strong will.

[f] Translator’s note: Here, the term desa is used, unlike kampong above. Desa means village only. See also glossary entry kampung .

[g] Editor’s note: In the original text, the term sjaithan , today sitan , is used. It goes back to the Arab term شيطان [šaiţān] for devil . The Arab-Islamic influence on the Indonesian mythology and the belief in ghosts developed during the process of Islamisation. In this context, it is interesting that the author does not realize the transfer when he claims that the indigenous population of the islands, which was still living in a non-Islamised land, believed in transcendent beings of Arab-Islamic origin. However, the use of an originally Arab term does not necessarily mean that the beings were of Arab origin.

[h] Translator’s note: Jinn , from the Arab جن, are supernatural creatures of Arab origin. The comments from the previous footnote also apply here.

[i] Editor’s note: These beings are supernatural creatures and ghosts from Indonesian mythology: In addition to the Arab-Islamic influences, Hindu-Buddhist influences can be observed. Gandharva, for example, belongs to the Apsaras, who are divine women in Hindu and Buddhist mythology living in the palace of God Indra. Bangsa or makhluk halus , on the other hand, are supernatural beings of Javanese origin. Thus, the canon of the Indonesian ghostly beings can be deemed as trans-cultural.

[j] Editor’s note: Like the expression hati , which literally translates as liver but refers to the metaphorical heart, the expression djiwa (today jiwa ), which can be translated as soul , is based on another Southeast Asian concept: It can be said that this concept was originally very different from the Christian-Occidental concept of the soul, but through the continuous use in Christian and Islamic contexts, the concepts have merged.

[k] Editor's note: See glossary entry kris .


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