ETHNONYMS: Bawean Islanders, Boyanese, Oran Boyan, Orang Babian, Orang Bawean, Orang Boyan

The Baweanese are the inhabitants of Bawean Island, located at 5°50′ S and 112 ° 40′ E north of Java in the Java Sea. This island is part of Indonesia. The original Baweanese migrated there from Madura at the end of the fourteenth century and today the Baweanese speak a dialect of Madurese, although they consider themselves to be a distinct ethnic group. Their number is estimated at about 60,000. In addition to the Baweanese, the island population includes Diponggo, Bugis, Kema, and Madurese. The first three have been essentially assimilated into Baweanese society, while the Madurese have remained separate and are today economic rivals with the Baweanese.

The island economy is centered on fishing and the growing of maize and rice. Mat weaving, once a highly developed art, has declined in importance. The Baweanese are Sunni Muslims and strict observers of religious practice.

The most notable aspect of Baweanese culture is merantau, the migration of men (today, more often entire families) to other parts of Indonesia. In the past, men generally migrated to find work in Singapore and the west coast of Malaya; today Riau Archipelago south of Singapore is also a major migration site. In the past also, Singapore was seen as a stopping-off point to earn money for the trip to and from Mecca. Today, migration off the island for employment is a goal in and of itself.


Koentjaraningrat (1972). "Bawean Islanders." In Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia, edited by Frank M. LeBar. Vol. 1, Indonesia, Andaman Islands, and Madagascar, 59. New Haven: HRAF Press.

Vredenbregt, Jacob (1964). "Bawean Migration." Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 120:109-137.

Vredenbregt, Jacob (1984). "Baweanese." In Muslim Peoples: A World Ethnographic Survey, edited by Richard V. Weekes, 126-130. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

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