Jong: The People’s Game of Coastal Malay Community to Strengthen Gathering

by Rivaldi Ihsan, Ethnomusicologist and Lecturer in Music at Sumbawa University of Technology (Instagram: rivaldiihsan, E-mail:

In 2019, the Batam City Tourism and Sports Office held a jong boat race at Tanjung Mak Dara Malay Beach, Kampung Melayu Batu Besar Nongsa. I heard the news and rushed to Malay Beach. Upon arrival at Malay Beach, I immediately went to the house of Atuk Anjang, a local resident who is a Malay music figure. He immediately told me at length about Malay cultural arts while enjoying the breeze accompanied by a cup of coffee. One of the themes of our conversation at that time was the folk game of the coastal Malay community, namely the jong boat.

According to the Coastal Malay community, the origin of jong comes from ethnic Chinese who in ancient times often performed rituals of making offerings to the middle of the sea. In the offerings there are various kinds of cakes, one of which is jong kong cake which is carried by a small boat. Then the view of the Coastal Malay community was very interested in the small boat that carried the offerings. Starting from a small boat carrying offerings, the jong boat game became a folk game of the Coastal Malay community.

In the beginning, jong boats were used by the coastal Malay community to entertain themselves when they could not go to sea to fish due to the north wind that could endanger the safety of the fishermen. However, in its current development, the jong boat has become a competition facilitated by the Batam City Youth and Sports Agency which is held once a year. The participants who take part in the jong boat race are not only the coastal Malay community of Batam, but consist of various groups of Malay people who are in the Riau Islands Province to participate and appreciate. One of them becomes a participant or becomes an audience that enlivens Malay Beach.

The procedure for the implementation of the jong boat race is usually on the shoreline by utilizing the help of the north wind to speed up where the ocean waves are also quite strong so that it can provide maximum speed for the boat. Jong boats are made from Pulai trees with about 1.5 meters to 2 meters using colorful sails that can be yellow, black, red, green, and so on. In ancient times, jong boat sails used materials made of cloth or plastic. However, in its current development, jong boat sails use materials made from parachutes.

And don’t forget that jong boats also use ballast or commonly called kate. Kate is usually placed on the right or left side of the boat depending on the wind direction. In addition, the function of the kate was to balance the jong boat so that it would not fall or sink when traveling with strong winds. The connection between the jong boat and the kate is commonly referred to as the kate rod. And to tie the kate rod and the jong boat is a kate house consisting of two small holes and a large one, functioning as to tie the jong and kate.

At the front of the jong there is a stern that serves to break the waves of sea water, as well as to withstand the impact of coral reefs so that small jong boats do not break. On the front of the sauh there is a gonjip made of long round wood as a fastener for the jeep or small sail that is tied to the gonjip and the jong boat. The jong sail is divided into two parts. The first is a small sail or jeep and a large sail that serves to receive wind and give speed to the jong boat.

The jong boat game requires two crew members. The first crew member is in charge of being at the starting line of a jong boat release by holding the kate rod waiting for the signal from the committee to release the jong boat. Then the second crew member is at the finish line in charge of welcoming the arrival of the jong boat, and stopping the boat by catching the kate rod of the jong boat. The speed of the jong boat is approximately 40 km/hour. During the jong boat race there is an experienced referee to see and determine at the finish line who deserves to be the champion for this race.

In addition, each jong boat has a name that is obtained from the owner. The names of the jong boats are useful as a representation of each jong boat’s identity where the owner comes from. With the hope that when the match takes place on the Malay beach in order to win.

At first the jong boat was a game of the coastal Malay people which functioned to entertain themselves when the north wind could not be friendly for fishing. So the fishermen planted crops, namely gardening. Then the fishermen were looking for busyness by creating a jong boat as a spare time filler on the beach. Then the development of the current jong boat into a race held by the community Kampung Melayu Batu Besar Nongsa, then got the support of the Batam City government.

As I watched and interviewed the jong boat crew. It turns out that most of the participants in the jong boat race are fishermen, of course experience as a fisherman is the main capital to participate in the race and play the jong boat. Although there are a small number who are not fishermen, at least he will definitely consult in terms of making or playing the jong boat with a Coastal Malay fisherman.

In the jong boat race, there are also family values in the relationship between the Kepri community and the Coastal Malay community in Kampung Melayu Batu Besar Nongsa Batam. This moment is a rare moment, where for three consecutive days the jong boat race. Many of the participants stayed at the home of the Batu Besar Malay community. One of them was Atuk Anjang, a fisherman and leader of OMPS Kampung Melayu.

In the end, they also stay in touch, reminisce, blend into one unit with the residents of Kampung Melayu on Malay Beach. Where the participants who came to stay at the house of ethnic Malay brothers and sisters who are in Malay Village Batu Besar Nongsa Batam.


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