Monday, November 12, 2012


Alor is the largest island in the Alor Archipelago located at the eastern-most end of the Lesser Sunda Islands that runs through southern Indonesia, which from the west include such islands as Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, and Flores.
To the east of the island across the Ombai Strait lie the islands of Wetar and Atauro, the latter belonging to East Timor. To the south, across the Strait of Alor, lies the western part of Timor. To the north lies the Banda Sea. To the west lies Pantar and the other islands of the Alor archipelago, and further yet the rest of the Sunda Islands.

Alor has an area of about 2800 km², making it the largest island of the Alor archipelago.
Kalabahi is the only town on the island of Alor, with a metropolitan population of about 60,000. The variety of goods obtainable in Kalabahi is surprising considering its size and location.
Alor is of volcanic origin and has very rugged terrain. The region near Kalabahi is the only flat area. This is why the Dutch placed the capital and the main harbor (Alor-Kecil) of the area here in 1911.
"The best" snorkelling and diving in Indonesia can be found in the Alor archipelago. Due to intriguing and often very strong currents it is best to snorkel or dive with someone who knows the area well. Transportation to Alor by TransNusa Trigana Air, from Kupang, Denpasar and Surabaya.

The island's infrastructure is only weakly built. The inhabitants practice mainly subsistence agriculture. The government seeks to change this with the help of international organizations. In the villages vanilla, tamarind, almonds and other nuts are cultivated. In the forests sandalwood is cut down for trade.
The latest geological explorations have discovered valuable resources such as gipsum, kaolin, petroleum, natural gas, tin, gold, and diamonds.
Alor's highly-esteemed snorkeling and diving promise an increase in tourism in the future. Depletion of the fisheries has however damaged the coral reefs in recent years.

Over 168,000 people live on Alor. Three-fourths are protestants, the rest are either Muslims or in a few villages Roman Catholics. Animistic rites and traditions are still strongly practiced.

More than 15 different indigenous languages are spoken on Alor, the majority of them classified as Papuan or non-Austronesian. These include Abui, Adang, Hamap, Kabola, Kafoa, Woisika, Kelon, and Kui. In addition, Alorese (Bahasa Alor; ISO 639-3: aol) is a Malayo-Polynesian language which is spoken along the coast of the western and southern Bird's Head of Alor Island and in places on surrounding islands.
Many of the Papuan languages of Alor are endangered and are no longer being actively acquired by children. Some languages have fewer than 1000 speakers remaining. Significant linguistic documentation efforts have been undertaken recently by Leiden University.
The language of daily communication is Alor Malay, a unique Malay variety with some similarities to Kupang Malay. Indonesian is taught in schools and used widely in media.

Sources           :
Photography  : Leonardus Nyoman /

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Labuan Bajo-west Flores.
Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo is the capital of the district of Manggarai Barat (West Manggarai) and is located at the westernmost tip of the island. Labuan Bajo is a launching point to explore the island’s interior and visits the giant dragons on Komodo and Rinca Island. It is almost a must-do for visitors to hike to one of the surrounding hills or mountains to enjoy a perfect panoramic view over the harbor and the innumerable coastal islets with their strips of white-sand beaches.
Waerebo Traditional Village.
Cunca Rami Waterfall
The impressive Cunca Rami waterfall, with its many pretty pools that offer a refreshing, natural swimming experience, makes a fantastic day trip from Labuan Bajo. Hiking through small villages and agricultural land, this walk is also a lesson in culture and agriculture. The trail leads you across various villages before it stretches out into open farmlands with water buffaloes, pigs, and goats grazing freely in the fields.
You can observe the various stages of rice cultivation and the traditional drying methods throughout the trail. Keep an eye out for banana, cacao, vanilla, and avocado plantations – it is amazing how everything grows and prospers seemingly effortless in this fertile area.
Sprider web rice field-Cancar.
Mount Mbeliling
Mount Mbeliling, located in West Manggarai, is the highest mountain in this region. The Mbeliling Forest Reserve, which spans over an area of 15,000 hectares, is the habitat of numerous endemic plant species and birds. Its large variety of flora and fauna make it a perfect trekking destination, especially during the dry season.
Bena Traditional village of Ngada.
Riung Marine Park.
Kelimutu Lake.
Sano Nggoang Crater Lake
Sano Nggoang Crater Lake is located approximately 35km east of Labuan Bajo. With depths of up to 500m, it is said to be among the world’s deepest crater lakes. The lake and an overall surrounding area of 5,500 hectares are proposed to become a protected area due to the remaining forests and endemic bird species such as the native Flores crow and the Flores monarch. Enthusiastic bird watchers and nature lovers should make sure to bring along their binoculars. Besides the birds, there is an abundance of attractive flora and fauna that can be spotted in this area.
Sano Nggoang offers the full range of nature tourism attractions and activities, from hiking to bird watching, swimming, or simply relaxing in a natural hot spring. What’s more, it offers you to gain an insight in the local people’s customs, traditional farming practices, and everyday life.
You can also do other activities such as:
•    Hiking and trekking
•    Swimming
•    Therapeutic soaks in local hot springs
•    Bike tours (if you bring your own bike or rent one in Labuan Bajo)
•    Local horse excursions along the shoreline
•    Nature tours:
        Bird watching
        Flora and fauna discovery
•    Agricultural insights:
       Traditional cultivation and irrigation systems
       Care and propagation of domesticated animals
       Cultivation of cash crops in combination with traditional crops
•    Culture:
       Local handicrafts
       Village traditions, dances, and local traditional ceremonies
Batu Cermin Limestone Cave
Batu Cermin cave is set within an impressive prominent rock formation near Labuan Bajo. Through a hole in the cave, rays of light find their way into the cave’s inside walls where they perform a spectacular show of reflected sunlight. This fascinating effect is caused by some slick, mirror-like rock surfaces that reflect the light. Hence the cave’s name, Batu Cermin, which means ‘mirror rock’ in Indonesian. If you want to experience this visual delight in all its beauty, make sure to be there at the right time: depending on the time of year, the sunrays only hit the hole between 9 and 10am.
Ruteng Pu’u
The traditional village of Ruteng Pu’u, located 4km from Ruteng, is one of the most popular places to see the traditional compang, a round, stone platform surrounded by a circle of stones and traditional houses. The compang  is the center of traditional ceremonies and rituals, e.g. for sacrificial offerings. An impressive waringin tree (Ficus Benjamina), locally known as a ‘ruteng’, once grew in the center of the compang.  It is now replaced by a dadap tree. On the east side of the compang, there are two tall traditional houses with spiked roofs.
Tengkulese Waterfall
Tengkulese Waterfall, which is also referred to as Cunca Lega (cunca means ‘waterfall’ in the Manggaraian language) is named after the nearby village. The water drops over two levels with a promising altitude. Surrounded by a lush forest and rice terraces, it can even be spotted from a distance. The waterfall can be reached by way of a nice short hike.
Wae Rebo Village
Wae Rebo is an old Manggaraian village, situated in pleasant, isolated mountain scenery. The village offers visitors a unique opportunity to see authentic Manggarai housing and to experience the everyday life of the local community. In the village of Wae Rebo, visitors can see mbaru niang – traditional, circular cone-shaped houses with very unique architecture. Nowadays, it is still a place to hold meetings, rituals and Sunday-morning prayers together.
Wae Rebo has been supported to become the major culture tourism attraction in West Flores. Together with a team of Jakarta-based architects and the Indonesian government, the local community renovated four of their
Liang Bua
With this finding, long-held scientific theories on the evolutionary past of human beings were contested: was there a land connection between mainland Asia or Australia and Flores? Was the isolated island situation responsible for the dwindling size? Did modern human beings cross with the hobbit, or did a volcano eruption end to the hobbit population before modern human beings settled on Flores? Is it really a new kind of human being, or did it suffer from a disease causing dwarfism? Father Verhoeven, a Catholic missionary of the SVD order, was the first to undertake archaeological excavation in Liang Bua. After Verhoeven, further research by Indonesian archaeologists was undertaken, confirming the assumption of human occupation. Archaeological excavation is still going on, with further discoveries of the bony remains of stegodons, varans, rats, birds, and stone artefacts. Old Manggaraian myths and tales about small people living in caves are still doing the rounds.
Cancar Spider Rice Fields
In Manggarai you will certainly notice the impressive lingko fields. The most amazing view over a number of these fields is offered at Cara Village situated on a small hill 17km west of Ruteng in Cancar. With their round, spider-web structure, these pieces of land are unique eye-catchers in Manggarai. The lingko fields are primarily used for wet-rice cultivation. With the dominance of this new form of farming, the significance of the traditional agricultural calendar with its rituals and ceremonies, embedded in the planting and harvesting of dry rice and corn, has also faded.
Ranamese Lake
Ranamese, a mountainous natural reserve (Taman Wisata Alam), impresses with its dense forests and a 21-meter-deep crater lake at an altitude of 1220m. Ranamese is ideal for those who want to explore the Florinese highlands by trekking. It is also a perfect place for bird watchers.
Ranamese Lake is situated in the middle of the forest, surrounded by a dense vegetation of mosses, scrubs, tropical woods, and water plants. The climate is comfortably fresh. Its calm and clear water makes it easy to spot freshwater fish. Other prominent animals around the lake are the wild macaques.
Bena Village
Bena, a community that is situated about 16km from Bajawa at the foot of Mount Inerie, is the most famous and also most visited village in the Ngada district. With its impressive stone formations and ancestral shrines, as well as traditional houses, Bena has turned into a signpost for Ngada culture. The village consists of two parallel rows of traditional, high thatch-roofed houses. Highly visible in the center of the village are ngadhu and bhaga, pairs of shrines – one for each clan of the village – representing the clan’s ancestors. The ngadhu is an anthropomorphic umbrella-like pole embodying the male ancestor of a clan. The trunk is decorated with carvings and is topped with a warrior-like figure. The ngadhu symbolizes fierceness and virility. After a new ngadhu has been carved out of a special tree, the men of the village carry the pole in a ceremonial way into the village. The bhaga, a female ancestral clan shrine, is a small hut with a thatched roof that resembles a miniature of a traditional house. It symbolizes the sanctuary of the house and the female body. The bhaga offers enough space for one to two persons to hold rituals for female ancestors. 
Mangeruda Hot Springs
Located in the Soa sub-district, about 23.5km from Bajawa, Mangeruda Hot Springs offer you the Florinese highlands at their warmest. Travelers coming to Ngada often visit Mangeruda Hot Springs to escape chilly Bajawa and enjoy the warm water that flows from a river under the shade of coconut trees. The spring water is believed to have curative effect for those suffering from skin conditions. Howsoever, the experience of taking a warm, soothing bath in a beautiful, natural atmosphere is definitely a true delight for your body and soul. Some pools are especially designed for visitors, including a large, artificial pool that offers space for quite a lot of people.
While in Soa, you may have the chance to enjoy ‘sagi’, a traditional boxing performance which is the pride of the Soa community. Usually held after harvest or during the dry season from May to July, sagi is performed continuously throughout the Soa sub-district, starting from Mangeruda and continuing to other nearby villages. It is performed as one of the local traditional festivals inspired by ancestral migration journeys in centuries over the distant past.
Riung 17 Islands
The sub-district of Riung, located to the north of Bajawa, is famed for its beautiful coral gardens. The coast and the surrounding area of the town of Riung have become a national conservation area, and were even given the status of a national park and named Pulau Tujuhbelas, or ‘Seventeen Islands’. In fact, the national park consists of more than 20 small and larger islands. The local people, though, have named the area ‘Riung Seventeen Islands’, a label that is easy to remember as it refers to the personification of a beautiful 17-year-old girl and also Indonesian Independence Day on the 17th of August.
The national park area is inhabited by various exotic species, e.g. the Timor deer, hedgehogs, monkeys, ferrets, the Timor monitor lizard, marsupials, and partridges. The large variety of birds, such as eagles, white herons, black storks, partridges etc, make the area a great spot for bird watching.
The Riung waters are home to plenty of exciting animals, ranging from marine mammals such as dolphins and whales to various colorful fish.  The crystal-clear water makes it a perfect place for swimming, snorkeling, and underwater photography. The biggest island is the hilly Ontoloe,  which is covered with short grass and a few trees, as well as fringed with mangroves. On the north coast of Ontoloe, you can observe the famous large fruit bats, called ‘flying foxes’, flying over the mangrove trees. A visit to Kalong, the ‘Flying Fox Island’, gives you the opportunity to see these fascinating animals as they fly into the sunset. The island of Bampa Barat is a temporary home to several fishermen, who sometimes sell their catch of the day directly from the boat.
Mount Kelimutu, with its tri-colored crater lakes, is probably the most amazing natural phenomenon in Flores. Beyond that, the ‘steaming mountain’ is also the island’s most famous tempat angker, or mystical, haunted place. Scientific explanations aside, there are many myths about the origin of Kelimutu. This is one of the reasons why Mount Kelimutu was, and still is a sacred place for the local people. Over the years, the three crater lakes have often changed color. At present, one of the lakes is black-brown, one is green, and one is currently changing from green to a reddish color. A reason may be the varying mineral contents of the water. Another explanation suggests that the changing colors are caused by the neglected ancestral souls.
The first lake is named Tiwu Ata Mbupu (lake of the ancestors' souls ); the second is named Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (lake of young people’s souls); and the third is called Tiwu Ata Polo (lake of evil spirits). The first and second lakes are situated close together; while the third lake is about 1.5km to the west. Kelimutu is a beautiful place at any time of the day. However, the best time to enjoy this magical place is in the early morning when the clouds haven’t yet covered the view. Many visitors prefer to see the sunrise.
The most popular and convenient starting point to visit Kelimutu is Moni, a village close to the Transflores ‘highway’. Whereas until not too long ago visitors had to hike all the way up to Kelimutu, there is now a paved road to a parking lot where you can enjoy a 30-minute walk through a lush forest full of birdsong, before entering the lake area.
The Kelimutu crater lakes are only a small part of the Kelimutu National Park. This fascinating area belongs to the worldwide protected areas and is internationally recognized by the United Nations Environment Program. Due to its unique natural features, its high biodiversity, and cultural heritage, Kelimutu National Park attracts thousands of tourists each year. Numerous hills and mountains (Mount Kelibara is the highest peak at 1,731 m) give this region its characteristic touch and provide a habitat for at least 19 rare, endemic bird species. As in so many places in Flores, traditional architecture, dances, and ikat weaving are still deeply rooted among the local people.
Maumere, the capital city of the Sikka district, is a main entry point for visiting Flores. In contrast to Labuan Bajo, there are still few tourists in Maumere and has kept its charming atmosphere – a mix of a dusty, busy town and a coastal paradise. From Maumere you can explore plenty of exciting places in just a one-day trip. The surrounding areas are full of natural attractions and cultural highlights, hidden in either nearby or remote villages. There are plenty of small islands that are easily reachable from Maumere. The Pemana Islands, a chain of islands, are located about 7km from Port Sadangbui, Maumere. Island hopping combined with snorkeling on a beautiful coral reef, as well as relaxing on fine, sandy beaches are perfect things to do there. Maumere’s Port Sadangbui is one of the biggest harbors in Flores and therefore a central trading point. Boats from all over Indonesia, especially from Java, anchor here and turn the harbor into a busy coming-and-going of people and goods that is exciting to watch.
If you want to get a glimpse of Florinese cultural and natural history, prehistory as well as marvel at some unique and sometimes curious objects of art and daily life, Maumere’s Bikon Blewut Museum is the place visit. It is situated on the campus of Sekolah Tinggi Filsafat Katholik in Ledalero, which is a well renowned Roman Catholic seminary. The 6km distance from Maumere to Ledalero can easily be covered either by public or private transportation. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday mornings from 7am – 1pm
Larantuka is the capital of Flores Timur. This coastal town used to be a naval base for trade and a central point for colonialization and clerical activities in Eastern Indonesia. Nowadays, Larantuka is still an important connecting port to the neighboring islands and the center of economic activities in the Flores Timur district, attracting many people from the neighboring villages to make a living in the town. Having a long Catholic history, Larantuka hosts the famous Katedral Reinha Rosari. This cathedral, together with the two well-known chapels Kapela Tua Ana and Kapela Tuan Ma, are centers of activity during the famous Larantuka Easter procession. During Easter, this laid-back city turns into a busy and lively place bursting with pilgrims from all over the world.
Text Sources :
Photography : Leonardus Nyoman

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Exotic Rote island-East Nusa Tenggara Province-Indonesia

Rote Island (Indonesian: Pulau Rote, also spelled Roti) is an island of Indonesia, part of the East Nusa Tenggara province of the Lesser Sunda Islands.

It has an area of 1,200 km2 (463 sq mi). It lies 500 km (311 mi) northeast of the Australian coast and 170 km (106 mi) northeast of the Ashmore and Cartier Islands. The island is situated to the southwest of the larger island of Timor. To the north is the Savu Sea, and to the south is the Timor Sea. To the west is Savu and Sumba. The uninhabited Dana Island (also called Ndana), just south of Rote, with an area of 14 km2 (5 sq mi), is the southernmost island of Indonesia. Along with some other nearby small islands, such as Ndao island, it forms the kabupaten (regency) of Rote Ndao Regency, which in 2010 decennial census recorded a population of 119,711.[1]

The main town, Ba'a, is located on the northern side of the island. Rote has a good surf area in the south around the village of Nemberala. There is a daily ferry to the island from Kupang, the provincial capital on West Timor, which provides transport for local passengers and goods as well as tourists. The trip between Kupang and Ba'a takes around 2 hours.

Rote has many historical relics including fine antique Chinese porcelain, as well as ancient arts and traditions. Several prominent Indonesian figures were born in Rote. A popular music instrument, Sasando, is made of palm leaves. According to legend, this island got its name accidentally when a lost Portuguese sailor arrived and asked a farmer where he was. The surprised farmer, who could not speak Portuguese, introduced himself, "Rote".
Rote, just off the southern tip of Timor Island, consists of rolling hills, terraced plantations, acacia palm, savanna and some forests. The Rotinese depend, like the Savunese, on the lontar palm for basic survival but also as a supplement to their income from fishing and jewelry making.

The critically endangered Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle is endemic to Rote Island.
Agriculture is the main form of employment. Fishing is also important, especially in the eastern village of Papela, which has led to disputes with Australia over the water between them.

Photography: Leonardus Nyoman /

Friday, November 2, 2012

Insel Sumba -Indonesien

Flughafen in Tambulaka-Suedwest Sumba.
Insel Sumba -Indonesien

Sonnen untergang von Newa Beach.
Sumba ist eine 11.150 km² große Insel der Kleinen Sundainseln und gehört zu der indonesischen Provinz Nusa Tenggara Timur. Sie hat 611.422 Einwohner. Die Inselhauptstadt mit Hafen ist Waingapu. Die Insel teilt sich seit 2007 administrativ in vier Regierungsbezirk (Kabupaten) mit Ihren jeweiligen Verwaltungssitzen a) Ostsumba, Waingapu b) Zentralsumba, Waibakul c) Westsumba, Waikabubak d) Südwestsumba, Tambolaka. Es existieren zwei Flughäfen, einer in Ost-Sumba (Waingapu) und einer in Nord-West-Sumba (Tambolaka) mit regelmäßigen Verbindungen nach Denpasar, Bali und Kupang, Timor (jeweils 4 mal pro Woche). Der Seetransport läuft über die Hafenstädte Waikelo und Waingapu. Die Landverbindung zwischen den wichtigsten Siedlungen (die zentrale West-Ost-Achse) funktioniert durch eine vergleichsweise gut ausgebaute asphaltierte Landstraße. Der Rest der Insel, vor allem die Nord- und Südküste sind infrastrukturell schwach erschlossen. Weite Teile der Bevölkerung Sumbas haben unzureichenden Zugang zu Trinkwasser und medizinischer Versorgung.

Kultur centrum in Waetabula.

Ein Alte Man in Wainyapu Dorf.
Im Norden befinden sich die Inseln Sumbawa, Komodo und Flores, im Osten Sawu und Timor und im Süden ist der Indische Ozean. Die Insel wird in West-Ost-Richtung durch eine etwa 150 km lange und bis zu 40 km breite Region mit Bergen durchzogen, die das Klima in zwei Gebiete unterteilt. In der Süd-Westhälfte fällt mehr Regen (bis zu 1600 mm/Jahr) und das Land eignet sich in Gunstlagen zum Reisanbau. Cashew ist hier eine wichtige Verkaufsfrucht. Im sehr trockenen Nord-Osten (zum Teil unter 600 mm/Jahr) wird Mais und Erdnuss, vor allem zur Subsistenzsicherung, angebaut sowie Weidewirtschaft für den Binnenexport betrieben, vor allem Rinder und Pferde. Regelmäßiges Abbrennen der Flächen hat zur Degradation der Vegetation in weiten Teilen Sumbas geführt, so dass heute vielfach nur noch eine savannenartige Landschaft auf erodierten Karstflächen übrig geblieben ist. Die Waldfläche Sumbas liegt heute bei unter 10 % der Gesamtfläche der Insel.


Graeber und Traditioneller Haeuser in Wainyapu.
Weisse Straende in Managa.
Das Motif von Sumba ikat Weberein
Die Einwohner sind eine Mischung von Malaien und Melanesiern. Durch erst im 20. Jahrhundert erfolgte Missionierung sind heute etwa 65 % der Bevölkerung zumindest nach außen hin Christen, weitere 25- 30 % praktizieren die traditionelle Marapu-Religion. Auch heute noch gibt es ausgeprägte soziale Schichten (Kasten) in der Bevölkerung mit feudalistisch anmutenden Strukturen. Ahnenkult hat für die Sumbanesen große Bedeutung. Das rituelle Schlachten von Tieren zu Hochzeiten, Beerdigungen und anderen kulturellen Anlässen ist fester Bestandteil des Lebens. Jeden Februar findet das Pasola-Festival statt, welches eines der bekanntesten traditionellen Feste Indonesiens ist und die größte Touristenattraktion der Insel darstellt. Die Lebensweise der Bewohner Sumbas ist von traditionellen Riten geprägt und ist für den Besucher durch die beeindruckenden Megalithgräber sowie die alten Clansiedlungen mit ihrer speziellen Architektur gut sichtbar. Traditionell spielt die Herstellung von gewebten Stoffen mit der Ikat-Webtechnik eine große Rolle und diese Stoffe sind bei Kennern weltberühmt. Es gibt muslimische Minderheiten, vor allem buginesischer Herkunft, die an der Küste und in den großen Siedlungen vor allem in Waingapu und in Waikabubak leben.


Praijing Traditioneller Dorf.
Vor der Kolonialzeit gehörte die Insel zum Majapahit-Imperium. Sie war in kleine Königreiche unterteilt, mit Raja als Könige. 1522 wurde Sumba von den ersten Europäern besucht und durch das Sandelholz bekannt, welches ausgebeutet wurde und heute keine Rolle mehr spielt. Ab 1866 gehörte die Insel zu Niederländisch-Indien, nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg zu Indonesien. Aufgrund der Zersplitterung in verschiedene Königreiche und Clans, gab es bis in die jüngere Vergangenheit Sumbas (1990) immer wieder interne kriegerische Auseinandersetzungen. Diese beschränken sich heute jedoch auf die nur noch in manchen Teilen der Insel verübte Selbstjustiz gegenüber Viehdieben.

Texten :
Fotografer : Leonardus Nyoman

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Ritual Penti (Penti weki peso bea) adalah upacara pergantian tahun dalam Budaya Manggarai Flores Barat yang biasa dilakukan pada bulan September atau Oktober. 
Upacara ini merupakan ungkapan rasa syukur setelah panen dan sekaligus memohon panen yang berlimpah di tahun berikutnya, serta penyucian Kampung (Peso Beo) pembersihan diri warga kampung (Penti weki). 
Acara ini dilaksanakan di rumah adat (Mbaru Gendang) dan ritual juga dilakukan di Mata air sebagai rasa syukur Kepada Tuhan atas pemberian air bagi Warga Kampung, sekalian memohon agar debit airnya bertambah, ritual lain dilakukan di pintu masuk kampung guna memohon perlindungan Tuhan lewat arwah leluhur untuk perlindungan warga kampung dari roh jahat yang datang dari luar, 
Upacara lain di Compang (tempat sesajen) untuk Nenek moyang, mensyukuri perlindungan Kampung dan permohonan untuk hidup selanjutnya, juga memohon keharmonisan sesama warga dan alam. Puncak acara Penti dilaksanakan di rumah adat (Mbaru gendang)
Kete api one-tela galang peang(hidup yang makmur)
Wuas raci weri, lebos kala po'ong. (hasil yang berlimpah.
Uwa gula bok lesa (selalu sehat)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


The Whale Hunting Ritual

In 1996,  Oxford University researcher, R.H. Barnes  wrote the “Sea Hunters of Indonesia: Fishers and Weavers of Lamalera”, describing this communal hunt for sperm whales (Physeter macrocepalus)  by the villagers in Lamalera, on Lembata Island.  
The village of Lamalera is surrounded by rocky hills and barren land, facing the wild sea of Savu.
When whaling season arrives, the boats are released. Crowds cheer as more boats, locally called peledang, glide out from the najeng, the boat houses. Tale leo, the rope made out of local vegetation, is hoisted to raise the sail. Another tale leo is fastened to the spiky harpoon. The whale hunt can take hours, and in some instances, it can take lives. The villagers catch only sperm whales as the tradition holds. Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) occasionally pass by the surrounding waters. However, these villagers would lead the approaching blue whales to the open sea and give them a warm good bye. Blue whales are considered taboo to hunt as they are believed to be the keepers of the Lamalera. They consider the blue whale as their mother, and hunting them is thus a sin.
When a whale approaches, the lamafa, the harpoonist jumps off the boat and stabs the cetaceans with a tempuling, a handmade harpoon. The heart-stopping action of a lamafa is one of the anticipated moments in the world of visual documentation. The curious visitors would wait for days to come along with the groups of matros, boatmen led by a lamafa. They would stay with the fishermen and the families to understand the fishermen’s unique lives. Baleo! Baleo! The villagers shout out as the awaited whale surfaces in the distance.

There are more taboos for the Lamaleras when it comes to whale hunting. It is also forbidden to hunt pregnant whales, young whales, and mating whales. This capacity to recognize these specific taboos can only be learnt through extensive periods of experience. Unfortunately, some elders worry that the tradition is vanishing as youngsters tend to separate tradition from convenient modernity, so that future generations will no longer adhere to such precious traditional values.
In response to the impending threat of disappearance, elders of Lamalera have transformed the seasonal practice into a festival called the Baleo Festival, which was started in 2009 and held annually until now. During the festival, traditional costumes are donned, and those who were born and raised in Lamalera congregate to make the festival not just a success, but also a legacy for the descendants of Lamalera.  The message of the ancestors must be passed down, which is to keep the tradition and local wisdom alive. 
Prior to the kotoklema hunt, a lefa, a ritual led by the village elder or a church priest, is held to invite the anticipated whales. One boat can accommodate 7 to 12 matros, led by a lamafa or also called balafaing. When a lamafa springs into the water and thrusts the harpoon to the heart of the sea giant, the matros must be ready to handle the potential danger caused by the injured whale, which will often swim under and drag the boat with it. Three to four stabs are needed to paralyze the targeted whale, so the boat can tow the catch back to the village, and share it with the rest of the people ashore.

East Nusatenggara is truly an awe-inspiring destination for those who define adventure from different points of view. You can find bau nyale, the sea worm catching festival, pasola, the horse riding and javelin hurling festival, and the fascinating caci, whip battle dance here. Stop by the city of Kupang or Maumere, and explore the rest of the island at Ngada and other villages to learn some of the magnificent early traditions. (

Monday, August 20, 2012

Caci Dance-Manggarai-Flores-Indonesia

Caci – more than just a traditional Manggarai dance
Caci, a ritual whip fight, is a major element of Manggarai cultural identity. Being a unique and aesthetic delight for spectators, caci performances are an attraction to foreign as well as domestic visitors of Manggarai. Caci is played out by two male adversaries, with one of them usually coming from another village to compete. Spectators support their favorite party by cheerfully shouting out their encouragement, making it a very lively event. Caci equipment, consisting of a whip, a shield, masks, and sticks, bursts with symbolism: the aggressor’s whip is made out of rattan, with a leather-covered handle. It symbolizes male, the phallic element, the father, and the sky. The defender’s round shield represents the female, the womb, and the earth. It is usually made out of bamboo, rattan, and covered with buffalo hide. As these meanings suggest, the male and the female elements are united whenever the whip hits the shield – symbolizing a sexual unity as an essential premise in giving live. The players’ heads are covered with a wooden or leather mask wrapped with cloth and goat hair that hangs down at the back. The two horns of the mask represent the strength of the water buffalo. For additional protection from the ashes of the whip, the defender holds a stick in his left hand.

While fighting, the men wear a traditional songket (woven cloth) over a pair of regular pants. A belt of bells worn on the hip and a string of bells strapped on the ankles create a peculiar sound. The upper body remains bare and uncovered, leaving it exposed to the whips’ lashes.

After a starting signal, the whip and shield duel begins. The fighters shuffle their feet and raise spectators’ tension by running back and forth towards each other. The aggressor tries to hit his opponent’s body with the whip. However being hit does not automatically mean losing the game – it is more important which part of the body is hit in deciding the winner. A hit in the face or on the head means losing the game; a hit on the back, though, is a good sign, promising that next year’s harvest will be prosperous. The roles of aggressor and defender are reversed after every whip strike, and, after four trials, a new pair of opponents will take their chance. Even though it is a playful event, caci also has a sacrificial function: the blood that is shed from the wounds caused by the whips is an offering to the ancestors, who, in return, will ensure the fertility of the land.

Caci used to be performed frequently during Penti, a festival held after harvest to end the old agricultural year and begin the new one. Being part of the integral ceremonial and ritual context of Penti, caci was never performed as a stand-alone event. The performances lasted at least one day – more often two or three days – always accompanied by drum and gong music. The preparations for caci required many fixed ritual procedures accompanied by animal sacrifice. Other occasions for caci performances included marriages, births, and funerals. The functions of caci were manifold: besides being a social event and a way to fulfil obligations of offerings to the ancestors, it is also an opportunity for young men to prove their virility and – in the past – a means of conflict management for disputing villages.

With changing social and agricultural circumstances, and the increased interest of domestic and international tourists in this cultural attraction of Manggarai, caci performances have also turned into a business for local cultural cooperatives. As most visitors do not want to spend a whole day or more watching caci, the length of the performances is drastically reduced, showing only fragments of the process. Some people criticize that caci fights performed on demand are alienated from their original ritual and ceremonial context, and thus lose their authenticity.

However, the growing interest of foreign visitors has definitely increased the pride and self-consciousness of the Manggarai people in a fascinating element of their culture.

The best time to see caci in its original context is during Penti, which usually takes place in the dry season between July and November, depending on the region. Nowadays, most villages celebrate Penti at five-year intervals.

If you happen to be in Manggarai in the dry season, just ask the local people if there is an upcoming Penti festival. If you are lucky to be invited to a Manggaraian marriage ceremony, you might also get the chance to see caci.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Desa Takpala adalah sebuah kampung tradisional di atas sebuah bukit namun sekaligus tidak begitu jauh dari pesisir pantai. Lokasinya berada di Desa Lembur Barat, Kecamatan Alor Tengah Utara, Kabupaten Alor. Sebagai kampung tradisional, Takpala memiliki belasan rumah adat berbentuk limas beratap ilalang yang tertata cukup baik. Kampung adat ini kiranya patut masuk dalam daftar agenda kunjungan Anda selama berada di Pulau Alor, Nusa Tenggara Timur.

Desa Takpala mencuat dalam daftar kunjungan wisatawan asal Eropa setelah seorang turis warga Belanda bernama Ferry memamerkan foto-foto warga kampung ini tahun 1973. Ia mengambil foto warga Kampung Takpala untuk kalender dan mempromosikan bahwa di Pulau Alor ada kampung primitif. Sejak saat itu Desa Takpala dikenal orang-orang Eropa dan turis pun berdatangan ke kampung ini. Selain itu, tahun 1980 Kampung Takpala juga sempat menjadi juara 2 tingkat Nasional untuk kategori desa paling tradisional. Sejak 1983 Kampung Takpala ditetapkan sebagai salah satu tujuan wisata di Pulau Alor oleh Dinas Pariwisata Alor.

Kata takpala sendiri berasal kata tak (artinya ada batasnya) dan kata pala (artinya kayu). Berikutnya takpala diartikan sebagai kayu pembatas. Ada juga yang memberi definisi takpala sebagai kayu pemukul.

Suku Abui sendiri yang menghuni kampung ini adalah suku terbesar yang mendiami Pulau Alor. Mereka kadang biasa disebut juga Tak Abui (artinya gunung besar). Meski warga penduduk yang mendiami kampung ini hanya puluhan tetapi sebenarnya keturunan penduduk kampung ini telah tersebar dan telah mencapai ribuan orang. Masyarakat suku Abui dikenal begitu bersahaja dan sangat ramah terhadap pendatang.

Keseharian suku Abui di Desa Takpala ini adalah memanfaatkan hasil alam terutama hutan dengan berladang atau berburu. Otomatis saat siang hari kampung ini terlihat sepi karena sebagian dari mereka akan pergi mencari makanan ke hutan sekaligus berburu. Hasilnya selain dikonsumsi sehari-hari juga dijual di pasar. Makanan aslinya suku Abui umumnya adalah singkong dan jagung. Nasi kadang mereka konsumsi tetapi tetap dipadupadankan dengan singkong dan jagung (disebut katemak).

Kampung Takpala awalnya mendiami pedalaman Gunung Alor tetapi kemudian dipindahkan ke bagian bawah. Alasan pemindahan ini dahulu terkait kewajiban membayar pajak kepada Raja Alor (balsem). Utusan Raja Alor yang hendak memungut pajak kesulitan menjangkau kampung tersebut sehingga akhirnya dipindahkan ke bagian bawah. Adalah Bapak (alm) Piter kafilkae yang menghibahkan tanahnya untuk dijadikan lokasi Kampung Takpala seperti sekarang ini sejak tahun 1940an.

Rumah adat suku Abui di Kampung Takpala begitu sederhana namun memikat. Rumah adat ini dinamakan lopo. Bangunannya berbahan kayu berbentuk limas dan beratap ilalang terbuka seperti gazebo dengan dinding setinggi 90 cm dari bambu. Rumah adat ini disangga 6 tiang dari kayu merah dan mampu bertahan cukup lama. Ada dua jenis rumah lopo, yaitu kolwat dan kanuruat. Rumah kolwat terbuka untuk umum, siapapun boleh masuk termasuk anak-anak dan perempuan sedangkan kanuruat hanya boleh dimasuki kalangan tertentu.

Selain lopo ada juga fala foka yaitu rumah adat bertingkat 4 yang dihuni hingga 13 kepala keluarga. Rumah adat bertingkat ini lantai 1 digunakan untuk berkumpul dan menerima tamu, lantai 2 untuk ruang tidur dan masak, lantai 3 tempat menyimpan bahan pangan seperti jagung dan hasil bumi lainnya, dan lantai 4 untuk menyimpan barang-barang adat seperti moko, gong, senjata, dan lainnya. Warga Takpala mengklaim bahwa merekalah yang pertama kali membuat rumah tradisional bertingkat 4 di dunia.

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Photo: Leonardus Nyoman

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