The Loloan (also known as the Melayu Bali) people are located in the district of Negara on the western end of Bali. The word Loloan is derived from the word liloan (“wrapped around” or “winding”), which refers to the first settler’s description of the River Ijogading, with its turbulent, changing currents.
It is thought that their ancestors were Muslim immigrants from Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Malaysia. Sunan Wajo led the first group of settlers from Sulawesi. They came to Bali in the 17th Century to escape from the Dutch military. At that time, I Gusti Ngurah Pancoran, the King of Jembrana, welcomed them. He had also resisted the Dutch. These Bugis-Makassar immigrants developed a good relationship with the King for the purpose of converting all of his people to Islam. Another group of settlers came from Kalimantan led by Abdullah bin Yahya Al Qadry, a descendant of the Sultan of Pontianak. Several of the Melayu groups from Malaysia originated from the areas of Pahang, Johor, Kedah and Trengganu, and some of the immigrants were of Arab origin. These groups were also seeking to evade the Dutch military and became assimilated into the Loloan people group.
What are their lives like?
As a community, the Loloan villages have significantly different characteristics than the villages of the Balinese people in the surrounding areas. In addition to the obvious religious differences, there are differences in the way they build their homes. The Loloan homes are built on raised platforms, on top of stilts approximately two meters high. The main door of the house always faces to the east. The location of the door is designed to avoid any distractions when they are doing their prayers toward Mecca in the west.
The decorations of the homes are generally Islamic in nature, such as using Arabic calligraphy in artwork. The Loloan style of dress, especially for women, is also Islamic. In general, they maintain a special and distinctive cultural pattern in the midst of the Hindu Balinese people, who have maintained their own cultural distinctiveness in the midst of an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.
What are their beliefs?
The Loloan are strong Muslims, which is different from the majority of the Bali people group who are Hindu. Because of this, they are ostracized by the Balinese people. Loloan traditional laws have been handed down through the generations, and they also strictly enforce Islamic law. Despite this, some Loloan people are greatly influenced by animism and superstition. These beliefs cause them to seek protection using magic by either appeasing or controlling good and evil spirits.
What are their needs?
The Loloan people need outside assistance in developing the resources in their environment.
They need to be open to all kinds of technology in order to become integrated into the larger society as productive citizens. There is a great need for electricity and development of irrigation systems in their remote villages. The Loloan people also need access to more employment opportunities in eco-friendly, sustainable industries that utilize the resources they have.