Considering its name, actually East Nusa Tenggara archipelago is believed to have been the center of industrial trade and exchange two thousand years ago when Timor island functioned as the source for the original stock of sandalwood trees established in India (or even in China) and there after developed as an important commercial tree. The trees grow in some islands (mostly in Timor Island now and used to be in Sumba) and the quality is still judged superlative.
Now the product is not only used for handicraft, but is also manufactured into sandalwood oil for export commodity for the raw material of perfumes. Centuries ago, ships from all over the world visited these islands in search of spices and sandalwood. The ancient Chinese travel chronicle Hsing Cha Sheng Can mentions that from the 6th to the 9th AD many ships from the Chinese mainland came here to barter ceramics, yarns, and silks for sandalwood. Can Yu Kua wrote in the Chu Fan Shih in 1225, that Timor Island had links with Java as far as the trade of sandalwood was concerned. The evidence of those old trade links with Java is found in Lendo Maja Dance, in Sabu. The evidence of early trading with China provide by the antique Chinese ceramics found in this area.
Pilliot Lamster believes that China had engaged in the sandalwood trade since the early period of Christian era. O. W. Walters similarly believe that China had connections with Timor in the first century of the Christian era. The merchant from India also come to these island to buy sandalwood, bringing horses which they bought in Arabia to be sold to Sumba people. That is ostensibly the reason why there are so many horses in Sumba The Europeans came to East Nusa Tenggara and bought sandalwood oil to treat wound.
In 1520, a Portuguese flotilla led by Alfonso de Abreu and serrao, sailed to Ternate, intending to defeat the Sultan of Ternate and take over his sphere of influence, which stretched from the southern Philippines to Sangihe Talaud, Maluku and Solor Island.
Losing their orientation, they arrived at Solor. They had failed destination, but had discovered East Nusa Tenggara, the source of sandalwood. They set up a trading post in Lamakera, on Solor Island, as a kind transit harbor between Maluku and Malacca.
In 1566, the Portuguese set up a trading post, know as fort Hendricus, where sandalwood was accumulated. During Portuguese period, many names were changed. Nusa Nipa became Flores, and Tanah Wutun, or Tanjung, was renamed Cabo da Flores. Nusa Wuo was changed into Sumba, and Nusa Eda into Rote or Roti, which was presumably the result of a misunderstanding involving a name Rote. Nusa Timu became Tmor. In addition, the Portuguese did their best to convert the people to Roman Catholicism as present on Portuguese ship. By 1597, thousands of people on these islands had been converted to Christianity.
The little town of Kupang knows among students of maritime history. At around the end of the 1 8th century, Kupang was visited by a sloop of the British Ship HMS “Bounty” skippered by Captain Thigh, who has braved the Pacific Ocean after the infamous mutiny. On his arrival at Kupang, Captain Bligh received help of the Dutch, who provided him with a ship to return to England.
In 1592, and inhabitant of Larantuka, of Portuguese origin, whose mother had been ill-treated, asked the Dutch for help to fight the Portuguese. The clutch attacked Fort Hendricus and defeated the Portuguese. The Dutch arrived at East Nusa Tenggara for the first time in the 17th century. In 1613, Apollonius Scotte led a war expedition to
East Nusa Tenggara to fight the Portuguese. War broke out and Solor fell to the Dutch in 1653. Through further victory, the Dutch consolidated their position in Kupang in 1657. Fort Hendricus became the headquarters of Dutch East India Company. Like the Portuguese before them, the Dutch brought their own Lutheran Ministers to the island and became the information center in East Nusa Tenggara.
After that the people live in surroundings of Kupang had converted from Catholicism to Protestantism. The Protestant center was move to Kupang. Meanwhile, the Portuguese moved the seat of their authority to Rote and Sawu islands. More over, many of the other islands were being subjugated and put under Portuguese control. In May to June 1642, the Portuguese were sending their best troops from Larantuka to attack Timor Island. The Portuguese commander; Francisco Fernandez, Ordered his men to kill the entire king in the conquered areas.
In 1739, a new power group, called the black Portuguese or Tropaas, emerged in Timor. Until the middle of the 19th century, it clashes between the areas. The situation continued until 1854, when the Treaty of Timor was signed between the Dutch and Portuguese, dividing Timor into half west to be ruled by the Dutch, and an east by the Portuguese. Larantuka and surrounding areas were ceded to the Dutch, whereas the barren territory of Oekusi was relinquished to the Portuguese.
After Indonesia’s independence, it was in the beginning a part of the Provinces of Lesser Sunda Islands, and changed its name to Nusa Tenggara Province not long after that, with the capital in Singaraja, Bali. In 1958 the province of Nusa Tenggara was divided into three provinces; Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, and East Nusa Tenggara Provinces.
East Nusa Tenggara is rich in arts and culture. Everywhere we go to East Nusa Tenggara we will notice the difference. The differences can be in languages (dialects), motif of customs (sarongs), the styles or the architectures of arts, houses and so on. Although the vast majority of Flores in Catholic, many people still follow their old ways, by living in traditional villages and placing food offerings on megalithic stones, and appease their ancestors. In the mountains around Bajawa, the Ngada people still follow the laws laid down by their ancestors. The Ngadanese are divided into set clans that have head chiefs and elders who decide of matters such as land rights, funerals, marriages and other ceremonies.
At Ngadanese rituals three objects form a ceremonial unit:
- PEO, a single megalithic stone, is used for communication with the ancestors. These are erected in the center of the village and had not allowed to be moved.
- NGADU, an umbrella shaped structure with a thatched roof, is used by the mate clan elders during ceremonial offerings.
- BHAGA, a small hut with carvings, used by female clan elder when asking for the ancestors’ protection over the newborn children.
Sacred myths that tell the origin of the several Sumbanese clan ancestors, is called Marapu. Mention a ladder from heaven to India then a long journey via Java to Flores. There is a stone bridge connected to Sumba Island. There the Highest Being created the Marapu, in heaven. This Creator cannot be seen or named, but it is known as “Great Mother or Great Father.
This aspect of male and female dualism is still enforcing throughout the social structure and system of gift exchange. This creator gave Marapu the right to govern the Sumbanese; therefore Marapu is the link with the creator.
Sumbanese clans were formerly divided into several independent kingdoms, each with their own clan Marapu, mostly at war with each other and not recognizing a central authority. Since the authority was Marapu, each clan needed its own fortified ceremonial center that also functioned as a village. Every house within the village has its own responsibility, such as deciding over Ceremonies, wars, and harvest. However, only one house, the uma, claims direct decent from a central founder, who first obtained the rights by Marapu, to settle and use the land. The clan houses, with their megalithic tombs, face toward a village square, where the animals’ offerings are carried out. Megalithic take other forms, such as offering altars and praying houses. Sacred stones, used as a link between Marapu and the Sumbanese can be found inside and outside the village.
A traditional Sumbanese house is though of as representing a human being; the thatched peaked roof is called “the hair and the head, the four main pillars that stand on the ground and reach the peak are known as “the legs”. These houses are social units and also serve as clan temples. The verandah function as the place where the guests are received and their betel nut is exchanged. Betel nut exchanged is an important customs and when offered it represents a western handshake, it is an insult to refuse the offer, although it is not necessary to eat it. The houses are also an important ceremonial center for funerals. Here the corpses are kept, prepared and mourned for a while the burials. Since death is the only way to join Marapu, the funeral is the most important and extravagant ceremony. Megalithic tombs with elaborate carvings symbolized the status of the person who will be erected. A great tomb might weight 30 tons; take 40 men two years to prepare and 1000 men to drag it from the quarry to its site.
The megalithic stones represent the first stone given by the creator to Marapu as compass to find Sumba from India. Since the Sumbanese believe the after world is a mirror of this world, status and wealth must be shown. Therefore his possessions will follow him to the grave and his animals will be sacrificed to honor him. Marriage is another significant ceremony filled with dancing, singing, entertainment and gift exchanged. A favorable marriage will give a rise in political or social status. Agricultural ceremonies and festivals are parts of the yearly traditional calendar. Pasola is one such festival in which colorful, spear throwing men on horseback, stage a mock battle between two teams. This is held to welcome the sea-worms, which foretell the coming harvest. It is held after the full moon in February and March.
The traditional house of Timor looks like a wooden parasol (UME) functioning as a living room and storage house. The village leader rules several houses from a village. This way of living is still available in the area around Mount Mutis, Soe, and Kefamenanu. Here the majority of Atoni people (one of the ethnic groups in Timor) still live traditionally. The Atoni people, according to regent, lived beside mountains that could talk and wander from valley to valley. The great rocks offered protection and guidance. The Atoni up until today will place offering at the foot of these sacred mountains, to ensure the continuing relationship. The Atoni live in behave shaped houses, where high conical roofs slope downward.
Belu people, originally from present day Malaysia, left their settlements in Mollucas, during the 1 4th century to conquer and establish an empire in Timor island. The word Belu, means friend used by Atoni, might explain the relative ease in which the Belunese established them selves. One of the unique features within the Belunese society is the woman’s high status. She fully controls everyone, or more, of the four types of marriage she decides to be a part of. Her husband will leave his clan by moving to her house and all their children will follow her lineage.
Traditionally dances, such as Likurai, have always accompanied festivals and ceremonies. The Likurai was danced to welcome the clan warriors up on their return from a victorious battle. The women would be dancing, tapping their drums and swaying their bodies as they circled the battle trophies of heads. Today unmarried women, will dance the Likurai to press young bachelors of visitors on special occasion. The Belunese culture is till very evident around Betun on the east coast of Timor
The provincial capital of East Nusa Tenggara in western Timor has proximately 522.944 inhabitants, making it the largest urban center in the province. It is the center of government, business, trade, and education. ‘The only sandalwood oil factory in Indonesia is located in this town. The city is located in West Timor, at 10011’S 123035’E, and has a population of about 450,000.
As the capital of East Nusa Tenggara, the transport and administrative links from Kupang with isolated islands are extensive. The location was an important port and trading point during the Portuguese and Dutch colonial eras. There are ruins and remnant signs of the colonial presence in the city. The city was an important landing and refueling place for early long distance airplane flights between Europe and Australia in the early twentieth century. It was an important location during the conflict in East Timor, for the Indonesian military, as well as the militias. The camps around Kupang were also of significant impact on the city.
Kupang was the final destination of Captain William Bligh (actually he was a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy) who was set adrift in an open boat during the Mutiny on the Bounty.
The Mutiny on the Bounty (1789) took place about 30 nautical miles (56 km) from Tofua. Lt William Bligh navigated the overcrowded 23-foot (7 m) open launch on an epic 41-day voyage first to Tofua and then Kupang City is equipped only with a sextant and a pocket watch — no charts or compass. He recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6710 km). He passed through the difficult Torres Strait along the way and landed on June 14. The only casualty of his voyage was a crewman named James Norton who was stoned to death by the natives of Tofua, the first island they tried to land on. First Mate Fletcher Christian who fell in love with a Tahitian native and eventually settled on Pitcairn Island South East of Tahiti, had led the Mutiny.
A small island of 280 square km, Komodo is located between Sumbawa and Flores islands. It is famous for its giant lizards, considered the last of their kind remaining in the world today, the Komodo dragon. Called “ora” by the local people, Komodo “Dragon” (Varanus Komodoensis) is actually a giant monitor lizard. Growing up to 3 to 4 meters in length, its ancestors roamed the earth up to about half a million years ago. Komodo live on goats, deer, and even the carcasses of its own kind. The only human population on the island is at the fishing village called Komodo who supplement their income-breeding goats, which are used to feed the lizards. The Komodo had protected by the law and although they are considered harmless, it is advisable to keep them at a distance. Komodo Island is now a nature reserve, home to a number of rare bird species, deer, and wild pigs, which are prey to the lizards as well.
To see the lizards in the daytime, baits have to be set in the hinterland where local guides are necessary. The sea surrounding the island offers vistas of sea life, crystal clear waters, and white sandy beaches. The only accommodation available is in simple guesthouses in the fishing village. It is advisable to carry food supplies. The best time to visit the island is between March and June, and between October and December. Komodo is accessible from the sea only. Fly to Labuan Bajo, from where it is about 3-4 hours by boat to the island.
Flores, a long island located between Sumbawa and Timor, is strewn with volcanoes in a mountain chain dividing it into several regions with distinctive languages and traditions, scenic beauty, good beaches, and natural wonders. The name is Portuguese for “flower”, as the Portuguese were the first Europeans to colonize East Nusa Tenggara.
Occupying a unique position at the junction of the Australian and Asian submarine ridges, between the two distinct fauna regions marked by the Wallace Line, here is one of the world’s most dynamic marine environments with nearly every species of coral and tropical fish represented. Predominantly Catholic, there are several examples of its Portuguese cultural heritage like the Easter Procession held in Larantuka, and the royal regalia of the former king in Maumere.
Flores Island, 6,627 sq mi (17,164 sq km), of Indonesia, is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Flores is heavily wooded, rugged, and mountainous, rising to 7,872 ft (2,399 m). The inhabitants are predominantly Christian, mainly Roman Catholic; those in the west are chiefly Malayans, and those in the east are Papuans. Corn and coconuts are grown. Ende (1990 pop. 48,966) is the chief town and port.
Among the prehistoric inhabitants of the island were small-proportioned humans (classified as Homo floresiensis in 2004) that may have evolved from Homo erectus and lived on Flores as recently as 13,000 years ago. Some scientists, however, believe that remains are those of micro cephalic modern humans who also suffered from dwarfism. Much later under the rule of Sulawesi princes, Flores came under Dutch influence c.1618. The Dutch gradually gained control of the island, although Portugal held the eastern end until 1851 and the natives were not completely subjugated until 1907.
Flores is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, an Island arc with an estimated area of 14,300-km_ extending east from Java island of Indonesia. The largest town is Maumere. Flores is located east of Sumbawa and Komodo and west of Lembata and Alor archipelago. To the southeast is Timor. To the south, across the Sumba strait, is Sumba and to the north, beyond Flores Sea, is Sulawesi.
Flores is part of the East Nusa Tenggara province. The island is split into five regencies (local government districts); from west to east these are: Manggarai, Ngada, Ende, Sikka and Flores Timur.
Flores has several active and dormant volcanoes, including Egon, Ilimuda, Leroboleng, and Lewotobi.
Flora and fauna
The west coast of Flores is one of the few places, aside from the island of Komodo itself, where the Komodo dragon can be found in the wild. The Flores giant rat is also endemic to the Island. In September 2004, at Liang Bua Cave in western Flores, Paleoanthropologist discovered skeletons of a previously unknown hominid species. Homo floresiensis, affectionately termed hobbits after the small characters in the Lord of the Rings, appear to be miniaturized versions of Homo erectus standing about one meter tall. They may have existed until as recently as 11.000 BC. Local reports of elf people, the Ebu Gogo, or the Orang Pendek of Sumatra, have caused speculation that Flores man may have survived into the historical period, or even to the present. The discovery has been published in the October 28, 2004, issue of Nature magazine. Flores was also a habitat of the extinct Stegodon dwarf elephant until approximately 18,000 years ago.
There are many languages spoken on the island of Flores, all of them belonging to the Austronesian family. In the centre of the island in the districts of Ngada and Ende there is what is variously called the Central Flores Dialect Chain or the Central Flores Linkage. Within this area there are slight lingistic differences in almost every village. At least six separate languages are identifiable. These are from west to east: Ngada, Nage, Keo, Ende, Lio and Palu’e, which is spoken on the island with the same name of the north coast of Flores. Locals would probably also add So’a and Bajawa to this list, which anthropologists have labeled dialects of Ngadha.
Portuguese traders and missionaries came to Flores in the 16th century, mainly to Larantuka and Sikka. Their influence is still discernible in Sikka’s language and culture.
Flores is almost all Catholic and represents one of the “religious borders” created by the Catholic expansion in the Pacific and the spread of Islam from the west across Indonesia. In other places in Indonesia, such as in Maluku and Sulawesi, the divide is more rigid and has been the source of bloody sectarian clashes.
Sumba, formerly known as the Sandalwood Island, is known foe its horses and Sumba clothe. Sandalwood was the only known cure for many diseases until penicillin was invented. The Sumbanese traded with the Chinese until the 16th century, after which the Arabs became the most important trading partner until the early 20th century. The island is famous for its arts and handicrafts, particularly the textile “ikat” weaving. Sumba, however, is not for everyone. Neither the food nor accommodations are up to international standards. But if we are willing to make a little effort we can see an authentic, ancient culture with none of the layers of Hinduism or Islam mostly found elsewhere in the country.
The island has a small population and a dry tropical climate. In total Sumba have more hours of sunshine than any other place in Indonesia. The land resembles Southern Africa or Australia, with scattered small villages and herds of cattle and buffalo Sumba is off the beaten track. Transport system and roads are infrequently used. Most hotels in main towns are simple, only catering for the adventurous. However, CNN etc. are available for those wishing to stay in touch with the outside world. Beaches are long and clean. Water is clear and abundant in fish, and there is great surf.
The island is roughly oval in shape. The greatest concentration of those who worship sprits (ancestral and those of the land) is found in West Sumba where two-thirds of the population holds on their traditional belief. It is here where incredible rituals take place, the “pasola” where hundreds of horsemen fling spears at each other. The government allows the ritual to take place, but the spears must be blunt. Although some exist in East Sumba, it is in West Sumba that one can find a greater number of huge megalithic tombs and traditional thatched and peaked huts raise on stilts.
Many traditional activities, all with a part paying homage to the spirits, take place in the month of July through October. These include the building of “adapt” houses and burials when sometimes hundreds of pigs, water buffaloes, horses, and dogs are sacrificed. Other ceremonies include the “pajura” or traditional boxing, the festivals for lunar New Year in October and November, and August 17, Independence Day, horse races and ritual dances
History Sumba Island
According to an old myth the first humans came down to Sumba on a ladder from heaven and settled on Tanjung Sasar on the north side of the island. Another myth says that Umbu Walu Sasar, one of the two Sumbanese ancestors, was driven away from Java and brought to Sumba by the gods. He also settled on Tanjung Sasar. The other ancestor, Umbu Walu Mandoko, came by boat and settled on the east side. The fact is that the people here are a mix of Malay and Melanese, while the language is related to eastern Sumbawa, western Flores and Sawu. The death and burial ceremonies have significant similarities with Tana Toraja on Sulawesi. Sumba was under control of the mighty Majapahit dynasty from Java in the 14th century. After Majapahit had fall, the island was ruled from Bima on Sumbawa and later Gowa on south Sulawesi. The society was however most influenced by the internal wars, even if there still was mutual economic dependency between the rival kingdoms. Horses, timber, betel nuts, rice, fruit and ikat were heavily traded between the various districts. The Dutch did not find any commercial possibilities here at first and paid little attention to Sumba before they started export of sandalwood in the 18th century. Before the discovery of penicillin sandalwood was the only known cure for venereal diseases, and was an expensive commodity that was exported to Europe, China and Arabic countries in large quantities. The trade was constantly interrupted by internal wars, and in 1906 the Dutch invaded Sumba and placed it under direct military rule. A civilian administration was set up in 1913 where the Dutch ruled through the reigning Sumbanese nobility. The native rulers were not accepted by Indonesia when the republic took control of the island in 1950, but many became government officials and in that way they and their families still have much influence.
The western part of Sumba is green and fertile in the wet season. It has a mixed population with two different languages; many still live in their traditional thatched huts. While East Sumba attracts tourists due to it’s lovely ikat-textiles, West Sumba can offer more exotic traditions with unique houses, ceremonies and tombs. A traditional village typically consists of two rows of tall houses, with a square between. In the middle of the square there is a flat stone with another flat stone at the top of it. Here offerings are made to the spiritual forces that protect the city (marapu). Similar stones can be found in the fields where offerings are made in relation to planting and harvesting. On the open square there is often stone slab tombs of important ancestors. In former days the heads of killed enemies would be hung in a dead tree in the village square, called ‘andung’. It is common today for tourists to visit some of these villages, preferably with a local guide to avoid any offending behavior. We will often be asked to donate a small amount of money; another custom is to offer betel nuts. It is a big offence to say no if we are offered a betel nut, in former days this was a declaration of war. Just accept it and put it away if we don’t like to chew it like the locals
East Sumba has a different climate, it is more dry and mountainous, and the people here belong to one single ethnical group with one common language. Waingapu, the capital, is located here and is a hub for transport to and from the island. There are some facilities here, but the main attractions are located west and southeast on the island. Some traditional villages are located southeast of Waingapu and can be visited on a daytrip from there
Rote Island is a part of Kupang Regency and is the southernmost island of Indonesia. It is located in the west coast of Kupang. This exotic island can be reached only in four hours. From Kupang by inter-island ferry to dive and tour this untouched beautifully rugged land. Spectacular walls and caverns mirror the hills, valleys, and escarpments underwater. The marine life is so varied and profuse that is hard to believe from Fire-fish to Mantas. The architecture of Rote is unique, as is their exquisite ikat weaving. See the people is their traditional lifestyle, which has remained unchanged for centuries.
Rote has many historical relies including fine antique Chinese porcelains, as well as ancient arts and traditions. Many prominent Indonesia nationalist leaders were born here. A popular music instrument Sasando, which 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 speaking Portuguese, introduced himself, “Rote”.
Rote just off the southern tip of Timor Island consists of rolling hills, terraced plantations, and acacia palm, savanna and some forests.
The rotinese depend, like the Savunese, on lontar palm for basic survival, but also as the supplement their income with fishing and jewelry making
Before Indonesia’s Independence, Rote, boasted the highest density of kingdom in the East Indies. Even today the island, the Rotenese and their kingdoms are divided, following ancient tradition, into two domains, one known as Sunrise and one as Sunset. A “male” Lord, a “female” Lord and several advisers, representing the clans within that domain, rules the domain. Each clan that possesses ceremonial rights performs it’s own rituals during the annual HUS celebration, a traditional New Year festival. At the HUS, Rotenese men wearing their unique hats make offerings to the clan ancestors and the women dance accompanied by sasando, The Rotenese guitar.
Rote is particularly well know for its surfing, each year surfers flock to Namberala to ride the near perfect tubes formed by the shallow reefs and off-shore winds. Accommodation in Namberala includes a traditional beachfront bungalow resort and several home stays. The beach itself is one of the best examples of a palm fringed pure white sandy beach to be found anywhere. Diving in the area is also exceptional due to the large numbers of Manta and Dugong seen there. A boat trip to nearby Dana or Ndao Islands is also recommende
ALOR AND LEMBATA ISLAND
Alor and Lembata Islands are the least visited and are therefore the most unspoiled regions of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). Trek to the rim of Pantar volcano, visit the traditional whaling village on Lembata or dive the straits of Alor at a dive destination rated by all to be amongst the best in the world.
Alor Island regency is the least visited and therefore the most unspoiled region of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT). Trek to the rim of a volcano on Pantar or dive the straits of Alor and Pantar in a dive destination rated by all to be amongst the best in the world. Ponder on the existence of the Moko drums, which are not found in large numbers anywhere else in Indonesia and can be traced back to the Dongson period in Vietnam around 350 BC and you start to realize that Alor is truly a land lost in time.
Alor diving is known as the best in the world With its smoldering Volcanoes reaching down into crystal clear waters fringed with pristine coral reefs, coconut fringed pure white sandy beaches and traditional villages built half way up mountains, the scenery is as spectacular above as it is below the waterline. Alor Island is so mountainous that it is almost impossible to pass from one side to the other and many of the villages on the island itself can only transport themselves via small wooden ferries. The eight distinct dialects and more than 50 sub-dialects spoken today, testifies to the diversity on Alor
Alor traditional culture has been influenced over the ages by the Indian, Chinese and Javanese traders as well as by the Islamic and Christian religions. This can be seen in the silk thread woven into the original weavings and the mix of Mosques and Christian churches dotted throughout the Island. The traditional dances, Ikat weavings motifs and the varies architectural style greatly from area to area. With more than a dozen traditional villages within one hours drive from the capital Kalabahi – Alor is a cultural tourists heaven.
Lembata Island is known throughout the world as the home of traditional whaling but what is not known is that the people of this Island are especially rich in cultural tradition. The beautiful rich Ikat weavings are entirely made from homegrown cotton, spun and dyed by the weaver. These cloths are still important as they are exchanged during marriage for Ivory tusks between the two families. The scenery throughout the Island is breathtaking, from the ever-imposing “Ile Ape” volcano of the palm fringed bays to the colorful bustling local markets – beauty and excitement are everywhere.
Lamalera village located on the southern tip of Lembata Island is the home of a traditional whale hunting community. Here, Sperm Whales have been hunted for centuries using all hand made equipment; their spears, rope and boats are all made in the village. The boats are without motors and the harpooner must jump from the boat to implant his harpoon in to the whale to ensure success. All parts of the whale are either consumed or traded with other Islanders for corn or other food. While whale hunting is not generally condoned by modern societies, when consider the ancestral links, the primitive equipment used and the importance to the people of Lamalera it is understandable that this traditional hunting has been sanctioned by the United Nations
Savu is dry for large parts of the year, due to hot winds blowing from the Australian continent. Most rain falls during the months from November to March. Between 82% & 94% of all rainfalls during the west monsoon, with little or no rain falling for the months of August to October. The mean annual rainfall for Savu Island is 1019 mm. During the dry season, the islands’ streams dry up, so the islanders depend on wells for their water supply. The land is covered for the most part by grassland and palms. Coral reef and sandy beaches fringe the three islands.
Namata is located in Western Savu. Namata is a traditional village where the ritual ceremonies are frequently held. There are megalithic stones and traditional houses. It is located in the Rai Lolo village, 3 km from the capital city of Heb’a (Seba) in western Savu district. There is a stone carving of a four mast tall ship. Though the writing beneath has faded, villagers say the Portuguese drew it in 1684.
RAI JUA ISLAND
- Kolo Uju (Udju) is a village where ritual ceremonies are held. It is located in Lede Unu of Rai Jua District.
- Maja well is located in Lede Unu village of Rai Jua district. It is located about 5 km from the subdistrict capital. The well is an archeological remnant of Majapahit Kingdom.
- Rai Jua Beach is located I km from the main town. It is a white sandy beach for snorkeling and swimming
Dana is also called Nieuw Eiland and Hokki, the latter not known to the local people. Dana is a small, uninhabited island, situated thirty kilometers Southwest of Rai Jua. The rocky, south side of the island is exposed to deep ocean swells originating in the Southern Ocean, five thousands kilometers away. Sheep and goats are to be seen on the island. However, Savu and Rai Jua people do not go to Dana, except for the annual ritual ceremony. According to Savunese tradition, no one is allowed to visit Dana for any other purpose
Savunese believe that when they die, their spirit reside on Dana. They also believe that it is important to respect the space of others in order to maintain harmony in life. Since Dana is considered to be the space for the spirit of their love ones who passed away, it is considered disrespectful for westerners to visit the island. However, cruise ships and surf charters regularly visit Dana, without consultation with the Rai Jua elders, who are responsible for preserving the tradition
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