The Traditions That Make Flores Culturally Extraordinary
Posted on 23 November 2011
The more we travel eastward along the archipelago, the greater the number of distinctive cultural features compared to those in Sumatra,Java, and Bali. The houses are strangely arranged in a manner that ours do not adopt. In villages, the way the locals transport their produce is somehow an attraction. In the way they convey happiness, there is traditional value that makes Flores an extraordinary place to visit.
These values are partly expressed gracefully in a form of dance and traditional costumes. In an island that spreads only 350 kilometers long, there are 5 distinct sub-ethnicities with their own languages. The words are different, and so are the dialects. The way the villages are established and regulated, or the division of land and crops is totally different. Although they might face somehow different historical background, they all share the same island with the same future in their hands. Would the tradition make it to the same future, or rather stay somewhere along the line?
A man in traditional costume was holding a hand-made necklace created out of palm leaves. He stood at the Frans Seda Airport runway with a girl and a boy, welcoming special guests in Maumere.
Each regency has its own way in presenting their traditional costumes although they live in the same island. This particular style of ikat motif and fashion is from Sikka.
It's quite astonishing when half of the community gathered and danced just to welcome a group of guests. Surely there was an incentive for doing this, but it was not limited to economic motive, as cultural was rather the idea of this awesome tradition.
To give an idea, the girl lives in a traditional village with a culturally elaborated tradition and a handful of economical burdens. The bedrock is a secure foundation for her parents to build a much solid future.
There were local geniuses who introduced the old tradition with far ahead outside world, where they can appreciate each other in their own way. An old man from Dokar Village was bridging the two worlds along with his younger fellows.
They brought out everything they have to express and impress. Sounds and movements are only part of the storyboard that makes a whole package. The music arrangements and the leadership to make it a communal treasure are simply mind-blowing.
There are reasons for everything, like why the headband is for men, and the necklace is created as so for women. Dokar villagers share the same background as both farmers and soldiers.
With arid land during the dry season, mothers choose to stay at home and be more productive with the land has to offer in form of cotton trees (Ceiba pentandra). They continuously develop the skill and become one of the best hand weaving communities in the island.
One way to bridge the relationship between host and guest in Dokar Village is a traditional cigar offering. The guests were welcome to burn the cigar or just hold it as a symbol of gratitude.
Dokarese men are well built, dark skinned, and have curly hair. The physical appearance is sometimes a personal feature, but their hospitality is a collective feature you wish you received in a starred hotel.
Young Dokarese were presenting a welcome dance named Papak Dance. The chiming steps are handed down from their parents and so are the rest of the traditional values.
An entertainment from the Dokar Villagers was the show of Tuare Tala’u Dance, the homecoming and victory dance highlighting the best warrior in the village. The warrior was seated on a 12-foot tall bamboo pedestal while he was gleefully dancing.
Two elder ladies of Dokarese were winding and twisting the cotton thread into much finer strings, which would become the materials for ikat sarong weaving.
The skill was evidently passed on to the girl, one step at a time until she masters all the process up to the weaving.
The lady is one of the indigenous designers in the village, extrapolating the patterns of the final motif that was believed to be given from the ancestors.
As soon as the design was set, the weaving process began with traditional hand weaving machine. The process was traditionally done outside the house.
There are various motifs worn as ikat sarongs by the local villagers. The excitement was shared in a communal dance where guests were welcome to join in.
The scorching day and the joyous dance would be perfect with coconut drinks right from the tree during the month of imminent winter in Europe.
Some place else still in the same regency of Sikka, fishermen community in Koka Beach sat under a shady hut waiting for their fellow villagers to arrive with handful of freshly caught fish.
The school children in Wologai Village of Ende are part of the farming community. Modern lifestyle has slowly been introduced in school and the traditional values are put in contest although the preservation is part of the curriculum.
Informal education from a mother is important in Wologai, because here the role of a woman is essential to withstand and continue the tradition of Lionese people. There is an annual ceremony using a drum dubbed as a ‘human-skin’ drum and beaten only by a specific type of grass.
Senior group has voiced their concerns on how to educate their children both ways, the advancement of modern life and the traditional values that will keep them together in a proud and renowned identity.
Here also one of the young men who has become very much absorb in both traditional life and modern one. He was one of the fighters of a dance called Caci. The dance is inspired by the life of brothers who celebrated the life of a helping water buffalo.