Osing people

Osing people
Regions with significant populations
Java, Indonesia



Islam, Hinduism

Related ethnic groups

Javanese, Balinese, Malay people, other Austronesian peoples

The Osing (Indonesian:Suku Osing) are a community living in the eastern salient of Java island in Indonesia, in the easternmost part of East Java province. They are the descendants of the people of the ancient principality of Blambangan, whose rulers remained Hindu until they were forced to convert to Islam by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1770. Their population of approximately 400,000 is centered in the province of East Java in the district of Banyuwangi. The Osings speak the Osing language, a dialect which shows influences from both the Javanese and Balinese.


Religion and culture

The Osings are mostly adherents of abangan Islam, although there are some who follow Hinduism. Elements of animism can be seen in their religion too. The Osings share a similar culture and spirit with the Balinese, and the Hindus celebrate ceremonies like Nyepi. It is not uncommon to see mosques and puras (Hindu temples) to be built nearby to each other in Banyuwangi. About 2-3,000 of them are Christians, who also mix some Hindu or Muslim beliefs into their religion.


The history of the Osings date back to the end of the 15th century, at the time of the fall of the Majapahit kingdom, and for the sake of resisting the conversion of Islam, many of them fled east to Banyuwangi, Bali and Lombok, and later it was converted to Islam by the Muslim Makassarese in the 16th century. The princes from Majapahit thus established the Blambangan kingdom, which stretched from the Blambangan peninsula right up to the Tengger mountains of Central Java. The Blambangan kingdom held sway for slightly more than two hundred years, before they finally surrendered to the second Mataram kingdom in 1743. Even then, they did not officially convert to Islam until the 19th century, though small communities of Muslims do pre-exist this date. The cause of the Osing's conversion is that, during the 19th century, when Banyuwangi was still unscathed by the Dutch colony, but knowing that by launching an attack on Banyuwangi, they will lose out in the battle as the Hindu principal puputan was a fight-to-death, the Dutch sent Moslem (and Christian) missionaries to tame the fighting spirit. Only then Banyuwangi was captured, a long and ambitious dream toward further occupation on Bali was launched by the Dutch.

In spite of the Dutch attempts to propagate Islam and Christianity among the Osings, many still stuck to their old beliefs. Today, a large Hindu population still exists among the Osings.


  • Ricklefs, M. C., A History of Modern Indonesia since ca. 1200

External links

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