Indonesian Villages Use Piles of Sand Instead of Mattresses

The residents of three small fishing villages in the Batang region of Indonesia prefer to sleep on piles of sand than on modern mattresses. This ancient tradition that’s still practiced today for its supposed health benefits.

Taking a nap on a sandy beach is pretty relaxing, but can you imagine going to sleep on a pile of sand every night? For the people of Batang-Batang, there’s really no comparing mattresses to their amazing sand beaches. As the only thing they have in abundance, sand plays a crucial role in the life of these coastal communities. It’s everywhere around their homes, cooling their feet on hot summer days, and keeping them warm during the night, and it even enters their houses as comfortable beds. Even the richest of residents prefer sleeping on sand than on mattresses, and even if some own conventional beds, they are mostly for decorative purposes. The villagers, most of them fishermen, believe the sand brought in from nearby beaches has medicinal properties that can help with a variety of conditions, from rheumatism to itches, although there’s no scientific proof of this. However, it’s a known fact that the sand in the area is highly adaptive to air temperature. When the air is hot, the sand offers a nice cooling retreat, and on cold nights, it keeps the villagers warm.

Photo: Dewo Ringgish

The Sand beds on Indonesia’s Batang region were a controversial subject during the 70s and 80s, when it was revealed women also use them to give birth, with only the most difficult cases being taken to local health centers. But despite public scrutiny, women carried on their tradition.  Villagers say only the cleanest and finest sand is used for beds.

Although most locals still prefer sand to conventional beds, this old tradition of dying out with the young population moving to the big city, in search of job opportunities.

 Photo: Dewo Ringgish

Photo: Dewo Ringgish


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