Madurese (Orang Madura, Tiyang Madura, Wong Madura)

The Madurese were originally the inhabitants of the Indonesian Island of Madura, located to on East Java and the archipelago of Kangean and Sapudi. However today most of Madurese live all over Indonesia, the result of the Dutch colonial regime and the Indonesian govt’s transmigrasi schemes which have moved hundreds of thousands of people from Java, Bali and Madura to less populated islands. The schemes have opened up significant economic opportunities for those who moved but have often angered the indigenous populations who have felt the influx of so many people with languages and cultures that differ significantly from their own.
Due to geographic proximity of Madura Ialand to Java Island, Madurese history has been linked to Javanese for centuries. The early years of common era in Madura constitute a period when Hinduism and the Buddhism were dominant religious and political doctrines, as was the case in Java. In the 14th century the Majapahit kingdom, Java’s last major Hindu kingdom, also ruled over Madura and disintegrated only with the arrival of Islam in the next centuries. In the 16th century Madurese set up their own state structure using political ideas of Islam, but this state was overrun by the islamic state of Mataram, another Javanese kingdom, in 1624. The Madurese reached their freedom temporarily in 1672 but lost again in 1680 when mataram turned to Dutch East Indies Company for assistance in dominating the region. The DUtch held the island as part of their colonial empire until 1942, when the Japanese occupied it as part of their pacific strategy during WW II. Many Madurese participated in the war of independence waged by Indonesians in 1945 against DUtch, who tried to retake their colony in the end of the war. Noe Madurese is one of the most dominant ethnic groups in Indonesia after the Javanese who dominate in most political and economic spheres.
Although politically the Madurese have been connected to the Javanese for many centuries, economically they have differed significantly due ti differences in island geigraphy. Madura is much dried than Java and allows for only single rice harvest per year, while on Java two or even three harvests are possible in some regions. Prior to their immigration to other islands, many Madurese adapted to these dry conditions by focusing their economic activity on cattle, sheep and to a lesser extent, goats. Much of the resulting meat, milk, and other products was then sold in Java in exchange for grain or other food products. The relatively small size of Madura in the conjunction with its large population also meant that many families had to rely on trade, fishing and handicrafts instead of farm or pastoral work, working as domestics for wealthy families was also common for Madurese women.
The many hundreds of thousands of Madurese who have moved away from their homeland and taken up residence in Kalimantan region and other islands in Indonesia have largely brought with them their tradition of wage labor, petty trade, a bit of farming and herding where possible. Moving to the lower rungs of the economy in their new homes was often put them at odds with local tribal populations who themselves are subordinate to the Javanese, Balinese and Chinese in their economic enterprises. The situation in Kalimantan has been the most dire for the new Madurese populations, gangs of Dayaks have murdered hundreds, destroyed property and looted Madurese neighborhoods in an attempt to drive out their economic rivals.
Madurese culture today reflects the mix of HInduism, Islam and BUddhism resembles that of Java. Most of Madurese, in Madura or elsewhere, consider themselves as devout moslems, usually Sunnis of the Shafi school, considered a more conservative branch of Sunni Islam than is the norm in Indonesia. Most individuals pray 5 times a day, pay their required tithe, fast in ramadhan and celebrate important islam holidays. It is a great honor to make pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj. Yet Islam as it is practiced among the Madurese is not of a purely orthodox variety. Shamans and sorcerers still work among the Madurese, and local and familial spirits are believed to be active in most communities. Both male and female children inherit property of their parents equally in contradiction to some interpretations in Islamic law. Madurese are practitioners of male and female circumcision, or genital mutilation as it is sometimes called by its critics. This practice is believed by many to be linked to their conversion to the religion in the 15th or 16th century.
Madurese society begins with the creation of kin groupings through the principle of bilateral descent, in other words, children are considered to belong equally to the kin groups of their mother and their father. Both nuclear and extended families are common as the group with which individuals identify most. Beyond the family or household, villages are made up of 10-15 households, often people who are unrelated through blood or marriage but are connected through ownership of a small plot of land. Postmarital residence is ideally neolocal, which means that most couples try to set up their own households as soon as possible, but often matrilocal residence, or libing with the bride’s parents for few years, is necessary to be able to afford to build or purchase a new home for the couple. While men are technically allowed to have multiple wives due to Islamic law, very few are financially able to do so outside of village headmen or other leaders. In the past the Madurese nobility could all afford to take on polygynous families, but with the disappearance of this class of people, the practice has largely died out.
THrough out Indonesia, the Madurese are known for the practice of Carok, or blood revenge, to avengene instances of adultry, theft, especially of cattle, or public shame or loss of face. Carok requires sneaking up on the perpetrator and stabbing him or her with a sickle-shaped knofe, usually to the point of death, Instance of carok usually result in extended feuds between families or even villages, which can last for generations. To put an end to the blood revenge, individuals can turn to a moslem specialist called a kyai who tried to settle the matter secular and supernatural levels.