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Traditional House Village Community

Traditional House Village Community

Traditional house of Manggarai, a circular type with Compang (altar shrine stone) in the center
Traditional house of Manggarai with a compang (raised altar area) in the center

Manggarai Barat: a melting pot of numerous ethnic groups:

  • Inland areas settled by the indinginous Manggarai ethnic group
  • Costal area settled by the Bajo, Bugis and Bima ethnic group
  • Other ethnic groups originated from Ende, Maumere, Sumba, Timor and China
  • The hinterland people are agriculturalists while those on the coast and small Islands work as fishermen and traders
  • The majority of the population is Christian, Moslems - living mostly along the coastal areas - represent the minority
  • While Bahasa Indonesia is the lingua francaspoken by virtually everyone in the region, Bahasa Manggarai is widely spoken among the indigenous people. Bajo, Bugis, Bima, and other indigenous languages are spoken among different social groups along the coast and small Islands of West Manggarai

The Manggarai ethnic group is generally considered to be the indigenous group in West Flores with other groups having migrated to the region in more recent times.

Those who claim to be the indigenous Manggaraians are those ethnic groups living in the hinterland.
Wedding parade of coastal community
Traditional Manggarai dances and songs form a part of all important festivals and celebrations in West Flores
A wedding parade in a coastal community reflects Bajo Buginese cultural traditions originating from Sulawesi
Pre-wedding arrangement of coastal community
Cultural talks on pre-wedding of Manggarai people
Wedding preparations among the Moslem people living in coastal villages
Negotiations and shared planning responsibilities precede a traditional wedding among members of the Manggarai ethnic group
caci dance
Caci - a traditional Manggarai dance in which the participants whip each other

Cultural cornerstones
Five basic principles are incorporated into the daily life style of the Manggarai ethnic group:
  • Mbaru bate kaeng - a traditional homestead
  • Uma bate duat - farming land or lingko; traditional land which provides a livelihood to the community
  • Natas bate labar - an empty land area at the front of a house or at the village center for shared recreation and traditional ceremonies
  • Wae bate teku - water sources
  • Compang - a raised shrine or altar area where rituals are performed emphasizing human's relations with God, nature and mankind
Selected rituals of the Manggarai people
  • Penti – a ceremony of thanksgiving, typically performed on an annual basis by each beo or village community. The Tua Teno or village elder ensures that every village member plays a role in the penti ceremony
  • Several rituals performed during ‘penti’ are:
    • Barong wae – a ceremony requiring the sacrifice of a white rooster, performed at the local water source to thank God for providing life-giving waters
    • Torok ela we’e penti - a ritual performed at a local traditional house, following the ‘barong wae’, to honor the memory of ancestors at which a pig is sacrificed
    • Karong lodok – which also ritual requires the sacrifice of a pig and which is performed at the lodok or center of a farming land ensuring God will provide a good harvest for the coming year
    • Torok ela one compang  - performed after the karong lodok, all villagers gather around the compang (raised stone altar) and sacrifice a pig in a ritual to honor God and the ancestors
Spider web rice field
Traditional rice pondering
Spider web rice fields
Milling rice – a practical necessity that’s also a musical performance

Traditional village and the house structure of Manggarai
  • In a strictly traditional village of Manggarai houses are arranged in a circular fashion around a central compang (raised altar area). In such a village all doors face towards the compang. In Manggarai society circular forms symbolize unity and solidarity
  • A village house is symbolically divided into three sections:
    • Paang - the main gate or front of the house
    • Ngandu - the center of the house
    • Nagung/Musi – the back area of the house
  • Traditional Manggarai architecture is best reflected by the rumah gendang or traditional house and compang or raised central altar area. The Rumah Gendang - also known as mbaru gendang or mbaru tembong - is a traditional house where all ritual paraphernalia is stored. The compang is the altar at the center of the village used as stage for cultural ceremonies. It is made of stones, typically with a banyan tree standing in the middle. A compang marks the traditional “center” of the village community
Cultural songs on any special occasion (wedding, cultural festival, welcoming the guest, etc)
Silat dance (martial arts) is performed during wedding parade
Manggarai culture - songs are sung to mark every special occasion,including weddings, cultural festivals and to welcome guests
Silat dances based on martial arts movements are performed as part of a wedding parade

Land use rights within Manggarai culture:
  • Tua Golo or the village elder is the highest authority with power to determine over land use issues within any given area of Manggarai
  • Tua Teno with his authority given by Tua Golo has the right to divide traditional land (lingko) among local villagers. The Tua Teno is charged with managing “Gendang one lingko pe’ang” ("from the traditional house to the farming land"), adat structures (local customary law) and social obligations
  • Tua Teno will typically gather all villagers in the traditional house to reach a consensus on various issues, including the land division issues
  • Manggarai people know several types of lingko or farming lands:
    • Lingko rame/randang - a traditional land which is inaugurated by sacrificing a buffalo or red colored pig
    • Referred to as lingko rona if the land was opened by sacrificing a buffalo
    • Referred to as lingko wina if the land was opened by sacrificing a red colored pig
    • Referred to as lingko saung cue if the land was opened by sacrificing a normally colored pig
Background on traditionaland division in Manggarai:
  • Lodok structures use triangle shaped land parcels forming a spider web pattern with plots starting from the center of the land (mangka) and running towards the outer border (cincing)
  • Neol structures are similar to lodok but involve smaller land parcels which are divided according to the directions issued by the Tua Golo and Tua Teno
  • Tobok structures are used by villagers for parcels located outside of the traditional land (Cincing lingko)
Important land-use terms in Manggarai language:
  • Pong - a forbidden forest area, typically located near a water reservoir
  • Puar - a forest area where people are allowed to collect their daily needs
  • Uma - land used for farming and housing purposes
  • Satar - land used for cattle breeding