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Gayo people

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Gayo people

Template:Infobox Ethnic group

For other uses, see Gayo.

The Gayo are an ethnic group living in highlands of Aceh Province, Indonesia, Sumatra. Gayo means nice.. Gayo may also be a variant word of Goyim, originally means non Jewish or non Roma, a name given by outsiders in the coastal area for the interior people and later taken up as the tribe's own name. This is comparable with the case of Badui tribe in West Java, in which their name comes from Bedouine, originally a name given by urban Arabs for interior Arabs.

Most Gayo live in three regencies in Aceh: Central Aceh, Bener Meriah and Gayo Lues regencies. Some of them live in several subdistricts in other regencies, such as Serbejadi Subdistrict, Simpang Jernih Subdistrict in East Aceh Regency and Beutong Subdistrict in Nagan Raya Regency. Their homeland lies in the Barisan Mountains which has elevations of over 12,000 feet and extends more than one thousand miles. The Gayonese language has four dialects: Lut, Serbejadi-Lukup, Lut and Luwes. Their language does not have a writing system, but folk tales, stories and poetry are passed down in oral tradition. The traditional house of the Gayo is called Umah.

After initial Dutch resistance, which many Gayonese and Dutch were killed, the Dutch occupied the area from 1904-1942. During this time, the Gayonese developed a thriving cash crop economy in vegetables and coffee. Since the Dutch colonization, the Gayonese have gained access to higher levels of education, and participated to some degree in the Islamization and modernization of their homeland.[1]

The Gayonese practise a local form of Islam. It is worth mentioning that the first Sultan of Aceh Darussalam was a Gayonese: Sultan Johan Alam Syah bin Adi Genali. In ancient times, the Gayonese believed in good and bad spirits and in holy men, both dead and alive. They would regularly give ritual offerings and sacrifices to the spirits, to holy men, and to their ancestors.[1]

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