bee matan

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Label / Notes Owner Date Modified
bee matan
Au Baka
Uma Lulik: Kai Leki


At the edge of the savanna on the Baucau plateau at a spring called Au Baka (Aubaca) and its associated origin house Kai Leki (W: 'Leki's forest') comes a story of people emerging through water out of the ground. It is said that at a time in the distant past, three brothers emerged from the earth clinging to the back of a buffalo. The oldest brother was sitting closest to the head of the buffalo, but his younger siblings then scrambled to grab onto the buffalos horns and hence they emerged first. The old brother conceded defeat, allowing his brothers to clamber into the light, he returned back underground into the darkness with his buffalo charge. Before doing so, however, he relayed to his younger siblings a range of strict prohibitions (lisan) with which they must abide to be able to live in the light earth. Lastly he told them to be sure to return to this same location the next morning. When they did so the next day, they found a spring had emerged from out of the ground and floating on the water asleep inside the leaves of a rootless lily (bili) was a baby girl who came to be known as Bui Bili. When this girl grew up, she married the older of the two brothers, whose name was Baka [Au Baka]. Meanwhile the youngest brother descended from the savanna to the marine terrace zone and married the daughter of the (rice growing) house of Weu Ho'o in the village of Boile, which today forms a part of central Baucau.
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 04-Dec-2014
Bui Leme
The people of Mua Ai Imi tell the following story: 


In the coastal plain of Seisal there is a spring, Bui Leme, which traces its ancestral origins to Larantuka on Flores. The ruler of Larantuka took the form of a whale and one day a man from Seisal hooked it by mistake. When the whale returned to Larantuka (where he ruled in the form of a person) he became sick. His messenger the crocodile was dispatched to find a solution, wherein he met up with the owner of the hook. Advising the man to fashion a hook out of palm fibre he took the man to see the sick kin, the ruler of Larantuka. After first asking everyone to leave the room, the owner of the hook quickly extracted the metal hook from the rulers mouth. He quickly hide the metal object, and showed the ruler instead a hook fashioned out of palm fibre. The ruler, relieved to have the object out of his mouth, asked what the man wanted in return. He asked only for passage to return home. Sometime after returning home, an incident occurred whereby the man's older brother spilt his younger brother's palm wine. As this happened a permanent spring emerged in the previously dry place where they lived. The spring was a return gift from the underworld.
Lisa Palmer 04-Dec-2014 01-Jun-2015
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 02-Jun-2015
Dato Walai
Two springs associated with the rice fields of Boile and Bahu
System Administrator 05-Jun-2015
Debu Bere (Luca)
Accordng to Xavio Gomes Guterres, Debu Bere was founded by two ancestors Leki Ko and Me Kai. They lived in this area. One day their dog was attacking deer and pigs. The pigs ran back to the front of the house by the rocks. The next moring at seven o'clock they took the pig and rice to cook by the rocks. A big wind blew up. The rocks shattered and buffalo began flooding out of the ground. Finally a large male buffalo appeared out of the hole and his huge body blocked the exit
Lisa Palmer 19-Sep-2013 05-Jun-2015
Ermata
In the Maubise village of Tartehi each year in March or April traditional 'new year' rituals are carried out to honour and recreate relationships and alliances across time and space. This annual agricultural ceremony continues over three days and includes a harvest festival, a new year celebration and a ceremony carried out at sacred springs Ermata and Ertama to ritually 'cool' the community. Honouring ancestral connections, it begins with people across the valley gathering at Tartehi sacred house complex where ritual drumming and sacred narrative accounts are told by elders to those present well into the night. Over the subsequent days as the number of people gathered continues to swell, the group set off on a circular procession through the landscape meeting up with the custodians of particular sacred sites along the way. In total they carry out celebratory rituals and offerings at seven sites, culminating in a ceremony at two ritually paired male and female springs (understood as the origins or sources of the community).

Iha bee matan Ermata, iha Tartehi, Muabisi, tinan tinan komunidade sira halo ritualaihuka. Ne'eritual ida ne'ebe atu kompleta ritual saur to'os ka mambiuka ne'e. Ritual ida ne'e rasik nudar prosesu ida atu komunidade hotu lao tuir fali bee matan hotu ne'ebe iha knua laran hodi husu agradesimentu ba bei-ala sira nomos ispiritu sira ne'ebe hein bee ne'e. Ritual aihuka ne'e mak rohan husi ritual saur to'os no piut besi.Iha Suco Maubisi, liu-liu ba knua Tartehi, Lekitehi no Goulala halao ritual aihuka ne'e iha bee matan Ermatu no Ertama.Komunidade sira iha sei lao husi knua laran no ba dahuluk sei ba bee matan Ermatu nebe iha fatin lulik ida naran 'Helumau Aitir Ermata nor Usnei'. Kondisaun uniku ida husi bee matan hotu iha Sub distrito Maubisi ne'e mak bee matan hotu-hotu iha bee matan feto no bee matan mane[1][1]. Klasifikasaun bee matan feto no bee matan hodi halo tuir tradisaun fase matan nian. Bainhira labarik mane ida moris mai mak iha loron hitu tuir mai sei fase matan husi bee ne'ebe ba kuru iha bee matan mane ne'e. Nune mos ba labarik feto ida, mak bee ne'ebe sei uja ba fase matan sei ba kuru husi bee matan feto (Tetum text by by Demetrio do Amaral Carvalho)


[1][1] Bee matan feto no bee matan mane fisikamente konstrui husi bei-ala sira ho hada fatuk hanesan tanki ka posu ki'ik ne'ebe ikus mai sira temi ida nudar bee matan feto no ida seluk nudar bee matan mane.
Lisa Palmer 14-Apr-2011 02-Jun-2015
Ertama
In the Maubise village of Tartehi each year in March or April traditional 'new year' rituals are carried out to honour and recreate relationships and alliances across time and space. This annual agricultural ceremony continues over three days and includes a harvest festival, a new year celebration and a ceremony carried out at sacred springs Ermata and Ertama to ritually 'cool' the community. Honouring ancestral connections, it begins with people across the valley gathering at Tartehi sacred house complex where ritual drumming and sacred narrative accounts are told by elders to those present well into the night. Over the subsequent days as the number of people gathered continues to swell, the group set off on a circular procession through the landscape meeting up with the custodians of particular sacred sites along the way. In total they carry out celebratory rituals and offerings at seven sites, culminating in a ceremony at two ritually paired male and female springs (understood as the origins or sources of the community).

Iha bee matan Ermata, iha Tartehi, Muabisi, tinan tinan komunidade sira halo ritualaihuka. Ne'eritual ida ne'ebe atu kompleta ritual saur to'os ka mambiuka ne'e. Ritual ida ne'e rasik nudar prosesu ida atu komunidade hotu lao tuir fali bee matan hotu ne'ebe iha knua laran hodi husu agradesimentu ba bei-ala sira nomos ispiritu sira ne'ebe hein bee ne'e. Ritual aihuka ne'e mak rohan husi ritual saur to'os no piut besi.Iha Suco Maubisi, liu-liu ba knua Tartehi, Lekitehi no Goulala halao ritual aihuka ne'e iha bee matan Ermatu no Ertama.Komunidade sira iha sei lao husi knua laran no ba dahuluk sei ba bee matan Ermatu nebe iha fatin lulik ida naran 'Helumau Aitir Ermata nor Usnei'. Kondisaun uniku ida husi bee matan hotu iha Sub distrito Maubisi ne'e mak bee matan hotu-hotu iha bee matan feto no bee matan mane[1][1]. Klasifikasaun bee matan feto no bee matan hodi halo tuir tradisaun fase matan nian. Bainhira labarik mane ida moris mai mak iha loron hitu tuir mai sei fase matan husi bee ne'ebe ba kuru iha bee matan mane ne'e. Nune mos ba labarik feto ida, mak bee ne'ebe sei uja ba fase matan sei ba kuru husi bee matan feto (Tetum text by by Demetrio do Amaral Carvalho)


[1][1] Bee matan feto no bee matan mane fisikamente konstrui husi bei-ala sira ho hada fatuk hanesan tanki ka posu ki'ik ne'ebe ikus mai sira temi ida nudar bee matan feto no ida seluk nudar bee matan mane.
Lisa Palmer 02-Jun-2015 02-Jun-2015
Haree Bai
Part of Wai Daba spring complex and irrigated rice fields
System Administrator 01-Jun-2015
Ira Luca
Accordng to Xavio Gomes Guterres, in the past this is where people from all over the east would come to receive the blessings of Luca (matak malirin). Delegations from Ossu, Baucau, Fatumaka. They would come for holy water to take back to their own places. They would bring goats as offerings and at night they would return with the water in bamboo covered in a cloth. The water gives both coolness (matak malirin) and intelligence to those who receive it.
Lisa Palmer 19-Sep-2013 05-Jun-2015
Ira Mer
A medicinal spring in Luca which can heal wounds on animals with its salty water.
Lisa Palmer 19-Sep-2013 24-Jun-2015
Irabi
In the remote south coast village of Irabi (M: sacred water) in Watu Carabao, Viqueque the creation of the origin community and ruling house is linked to ancestral sacra emerging from the spring. According to the spring custodian, Armindo da Silva, in the distant past a woman of this house entered the underground world hidden beneath the spring and married with its crocodile king. The pair had two sons who continue to live in the spring, one who transformed into a fish and the other into a crocodile. As a result of the power of this spring and its associated sacra, waters from Irabi were carried across the region enabling marriage and creating the right to rule in other communities (these stories stretch as far away as Laga on the north coast). At some point a son of Luca, from the south coast sub-kingdom of We Soru (Vessoru), arrived in Irabi and married a daughter of the spring's custodian creating a long term ritual and political alliance between Irabi and We Soru. 
Another story relating to this spring tells of the time when it began gushing forth buffalo. While the population feared this would create catastrophic flooding eventually a large male buffalo emerged and its body blocked the exit path. These buffalo became a central part of the ancestral inheritance of the people of Irabi and a critical enabler of the wet-rice production associated with the spring. As with other areas in the zone, irrigated rice production is said to precede the Portuguese presence and some indigenous wet-rice varieties, such as a red rice known as 'fuu ga', are still planted there. The waters from the Irabi spring and the river into which it runs are shared by local rice farmers through a traditional process known as fiar malu (trusting in each other/respect). In more recent times, demographic changes and the in-migration of Makasae and Naueti speakers from the surrounding areas has also led to the need for a 'water controller' (M: ira kabu) to oversee the process of water distribution between fields. 


Farmers carry out sacrificial offerings each rice growing season to the custodians of the spring water. The yield from each harvest determines the type and quantity of animals sacrificed. A highly successful harvest requires the sacrifice of a four animals (a chicken, a dog, a pig and a buffalo) in a ritual known in Makasae as 'diki'. After the annual rice harvest, the arrival of the monsoon signals the time to plant other crops such as maize, potatoes, cassava and yam (kumbili).


[i] The last remaining descendents of this herd were lost during the Indonesian occupation.

[ii] A lesser ritual involving the sacrifice of a dog, a chicken and a pig is known as saba lesa.
Lisa Palmer 09-Jan-2014 04-Dec-2014
Kai Hunu
Uma Lulik: Ocu Bai, Baha Kai Lale

The story of the Kai Hunu cave and water source is connected to the story of Joao Lere, a famous ritual specialist and local ruler (liurai) of Wani Uma who railed against the Catholic Church and the Portuguese administration. His actions led many to seek his downfall, but try as they may his death was only possible when he surrendered his own body to the authorities and gave them specific instructions detailing how to kill him. In the 1930's Baucau's colonial administrator, Armando Pinto Correia (1935: 108-110, 132-136, see below for the English translation), transcribed a story of Joao Lere. While the details of Joao Lere's socio-political connections and life are only partially recorded in this version, it is clear that this is a regionally significant story. One clue to this is Joao Lere's connection to the coastal cave and subterranean water source of Kai Hunu near Bundura [Ponte Bondura]. Associated in Correia's account with the most sacred house in the Baucau region, Oca Ba'i (W: 'sacred cave') in Baha-Kai-Lale (W: 'the hamlet in the forest'), this cave was the site of a regionally important pilgrimage involving the collection of holy water and a rainmaking ceremon. In Correia's account all of the Baucau sub-district savanna and wet rice growing communities are said to have participated in the pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, in the version of this story told to me in 2012 by the cave custodians and senior ritual and political leaders of Wani Uma, both the socio-political genealogy of Joao Lere and the extent of the community participation in this pilgrimage of holy water stretches to include people from the far east of Timor and the southern kingdom of Luca. The people of Wani Uma state that in the pre-colonial era the clans of Bundura region had jurisdiction to the west as far as Fatu Ahi (the hills above Dili) and to the east as far as Los Palos, as well as to the islands beyond. This, they say, was the time of the dark earth, when the people worshipped rocks and water. 

The story of Joao Lere in contrast traces the period of colonial encounter, missionary activity, trade and rule in the east. Joao Lere is characterized by his own people as matenek liu (too clever/wise/powerful) with extraordinary powers, including the capacity to make the sea waters rise up and the earth crumble into the sea. At one point in his story, he even attempts to split the island in two leaving the area from Bundura to the far east under his control and the other half of the island to the Portuguese occupiers. 

Below is a summary of the version of Joao Lere's story told to me by the Wani Uma ritual leader and 'historian of the dark earth', Moses Nai Usu:

His father came we think from Luca. His name was No Mori. He was in Luca hunting birds with a blowpipe. When his golden arrow pierced a bird it flew off with the arrow to the peaks of Mundo Perdido. He followed it to there but it flew down to Leki Loi Watu [on the Baucau plateau]. Again he followed it, but it flew off through Hare Ite before arriving in Baha Kai Lale [between Caisidu and Wani Uma]. He followed it once more and in Baha Kai Lale he encountered a woman called Maria weaving cloth (tais). 

No Mori asked the woman if she had seen a bird pierced by an arrow. At first she said she had not, but No Mori said to her 'Noi, you must lie to me. If you tell me the truth, I will only keep the arrow, you can keep the bird to cook.' Then Maria admitted she had found a bird pierced by a golden arrow and had put it in the house.

She fetched the bird and arrow and No Mori gave her the bird to cook. Later No Mori asked Maria to go inside to fetch him a drink of water. Then No Mori secretly placed a cigarette inside the bamboo hollow of Maria's cotton reel. 

After he had drunk the water, No Mori announced he must leave. He returned back through Leki Loi Watu [W: 'Leki Loi's rock'] where he looked back and saw that Maria had begun to weave the cloth again. When she did this the cigarette fell from the bamboo hollow.

She said, 'I have found something sweet smelling'. She decided to light it with her fire flint and as she did so lightening suddenly struck in the sky.

A week or so after this she realized she was pregnant. All we know was she smoked a cigarette and became pregnant.

When the baby was born she gave him the name Kai Ho'o Wau Bubo Leki Loi Wau Bubo. The child was a huge eater. When he was born he cried and straight away ate ten pots of rice. Whenever he cried, he would eat ten pots of rice. It was always like this.

Eventually his [maternal] grandfather Kai Dau Naha Dau also assisted Maria in the task of feeding the child, but the food supplies were still not enough. 

He grew up eating all of his uncle's food, yet his real father took no responsibility for the child. When he was grown he said to his uncles, 'In gratitude to all my family, now I must feed you'. He began to cook and placed a chicken in a pot and later divided this into many pots. But when it was placed in the other pots the chicken meat transformed into the meat of pigs, goats and buffalo.

After this he went off to school in Larantuka [Flores]. In the morning he would leave the house for school and return in the afternoon. He would travel to school by crocodile. When he had finished his schooling, he and his uncles went to the fields to make swidden and fencing.

At this point his mother said to his uncles that they must kill him because he eats too much. His uncles agreed and tried to kill him by felling trees on him but he simply carried them off on his shoulders. 

When they returned home that afternoon his mother asked 'Did you kill that child?' His uncles replied 'we killed him but he didn't die'. Next they tried to kill him with a large rock but the child, whose magic was so strong, simply caught the rock. The child who was also known as Degu Tina (W: 'dark cooking') was unable to be killed. Because of this they decided to send him off to school again, this time to India. He set off to school (travelling by eagle to India) but was quickly home again already knowing everything. This child was also known as Joao Lere.

By the time Joao Lere had reached the peak of his revealed and acquired knowledge and power (matenek), the Portuguese had arrived in Timor. They and Joao Lere were set to oppose each other. In order to demonstrate his prowess and control over the land and the sea, the young Joao Lere decided to divide the land by calling forth the waters from the sea. His mother warned him against these actions, which involved the forbidden act of opening a sacred western door to the sea in the Kai Hunu cave (known as Odamata Losi-Tasi). So instead, he decided to open the door to the east. When he did this, he found a tobacco pipe (which was also manifest as a golden snake) belonging to his 'magician' uncle who was away in the far east in Tutuala. With the assistance of a pair of giant bellows (W: tuha), Joao Lere light the pipe and began to smoke it, as he did so fire from the force of the bellows began to spread across the area. His uncle in Tutuala saw the smoke rising from Mamau-Tuha (the 'place of the bellows') close to the Kai Hunu cave. He leaped across the land from Tutuala to Laga to Dasu Buinau [a hill and 'place of divining justice' in Seisal] finally alighting near Bundura where the fire was raging out of control. He quelled the fires, but given the proven recklessness of the young Joao Lere, his uncle returned to Tutuala with him under his care. It was in Tutuala that Joao Lere was discovered by a priest who was returning to Dili and ordered the young man to carry his many possessions to a nearby port. While the priest set out first on horseback, by the time he had arrived at the port Joao Lere and the bags were already there. Joao Lere had used his magic to move the items through the air, but he hid these powers from the priest telling him a team of porters had carried them. Next the priest set off for Vemasse but again when he arrived there, Joao Lere and his possessions had again arrived ahead of him. This happened as well on the next stage of the journey to Fatu Ahi (between the ports of Hera and Dili). By the time he reached Fatu Ahi the priest realized the extent of Joao Lere's magical powers (matenek). Returning to Portugal, he relayed this story and discussed Joao Lere's threat to Portuguese power. The priest then returned to Timor as a Bishop and a plan was made to kill Joao Lere. The colonial authorities seized him, tied him up and threw him from a boat into the middle of the sea. But before they got back to shore, Joao Lere was there still alive. After this they tried many times to kill him, but he would never die. 

In the end Joao Lere told the authorities that if they wanted to kill him they needed to bring some black palm fiber, rice stalks and a salt basket from Wai Wono (near Bundura) to the port town of Manatuto. He then instructed them to put these together on top of a flat rock. Following this, at four o'clock in the afternoon he sat atop the rock playing a bamboo flute. He instructed them to set him alight the fibers and as the fire burned he continued to play the flute (calling forth his dai or ancestral spirit). He played until the evening and then suddenly the smoke of the fire rose in a single column and he disappeared. All that was left on the rock was one large goat dropping. After his death Joao Lere's (magic) basket was carried by the wind from Manatuto all the way to Kai Hunu, where it turned into a rock known as Watu Tege on a nearby coastal shelf platform (see Figure 5.2). The wind signaled its imminent arrival to his mother who ran to the shore and began to sing a song: 

Loi Kere Kuru LaleLoi Kere Kuru Lale 

He Watu Tege, Bali Watu TegeI am waiting for the basket, waiting for the basket

Watu Tege BuniniThe owner of the basket

Kii-Leki Kuru-An-Leki-Kuru.Kii-Leki Kuru-An-Leki-Kuru.

According to the people of Wani Uma it was Joao Lere's own uncles who had told the Portuguese that they must kill him. They feared his reckless and excessive powers and told the colonial authorities that if they did not kill him he would come to rule the land and drive out the Portuguese. They locate these events in the time of Padre Antonio Taveiro (Tavares) who they say arrived in 1512 (as noted above, the historical record tells us that he was the first missionary who arrived in Timor from Solor in 1556. See McWilliam 2007: 225, 233). But in their telling of Joao Lere's life story these events span a long historical period which includes the time of the Dutch and a time of 'civil war'. Along the way Joao Lere and his various namesakes were firstly pitted against a priest, then a bishop and then the Portuguese government. While all of these outsiders are also present in the version of the story told to Correia in the 1930s, in this telling Joao Lere is characterized as a threat to the power of the rival king of the port of Vemasse and it is he who urges the Portuguese Governor to kill Joao Lere. Downplaying such power dynamics between local rulers, today the people of Wani Uma assert that it was the coming of agama (I: religion) that killed Joao Lere in order that this religion could rule Timor. Indeed the hilltop site in Manatuto where Joao Lere was killed now contains a chapel dedicated to Santu Antonio (many other lulik sites in the region are also now dedicated to a Catholic saint). Despite this colonial Catholic transformation, when people from Baucau familiar with the Joao Lere story pass by the site of his death near the main road in Manatuto they still pay their respects by placing an object (a rock or a cigarette) in their mouth and throwing it on the ground in the direction of the site. 

Meanwhile the site near remote Bundura where Joao Lere's uncle alighted as he leaped back from Tutuala to put out the fires is known as Dai Kele Fatin (W: 'the foreigner's footprint'). While Joao Lere was said by Pinto Correia (1935) to be descended from Timorese and foreign parentage, the elders of Wani Uma state that this site is known as the foreigner's footprint to disguise its real meaning and power. Like Joao Lere, his uncle was a powerful 'magician' from Wani Uma house of Wata Huu Ana and his influence stretched as far as Tutuala where his footprints are also found. Meanwhile they say another footprint connected to Joao Lere can be found in Lifao (the first colonial capital in Oecusse).
Lisa Palmer 29-Feb-2012 04-Dec-2014
Kaibulori
Spring between Fatumaka and Berecoli. Now a major piped water source.
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 02-Jun-2015
Kama Nau
Spring close to Wai Daba
System Administrator 01-Jun-2015
Loi Hunu
At the southern base of the Mundo Perdido range is the village of Loi Hunu where the creation narratives of local springs are linked to the development of irrigated rice production. A past Liurai of Loi Hunu, Fransisco da Costa Guterres relays the following story: 

One day an old man called Loi Hunu and his dog called Bui Lua were roaming the forest uplands where the man had been tending to his swidden. He and his dog entered a cave looking for bats to hunt and eat. The old man managed to kill many bats and filled his bag. But his return out of the cave was then blocked by a sudden flow of water. During the next seven days he could not exit and he ate all of the bats and even his clothes. Then a python came along. The python said to the old man: 'Loi Hunu come with me and I will take you to the sea, I will take you out of here'. But a black eel came along and told Loi Hunu not to do this: 'It will eat you on the way,' the eel said of the python. With that the python continued on its way. Then a huge white eel came along and asked Loi Hunu to go with him. The black eel again warned against it, 'It will cast you off on the way' it said of the huge white eel. Then the black eel said 'If you get on my back I will take you back above ground'. They set off on a long journey. They found a small hole leading to the surface and Loi Hunu kicked at it, enough so that the eel's head could emerge. They gave this small hole in the ground the name Bui Lua (the name of Loi Hunu's dog). The man and his dog continued on down through the underground channels until they saw more light. The old man gave a big kick and the water poured forth onto the ground above.

Given the length of time he had spent underground, Loi Hunu's family in the upland area presumed him to be dead and had already carried out his burial proceedings. Meanwhile in the place where he emerged from the ground, a woman from the nearby hamlet of Ira Daba had come to draw water. She saw the man and his dog and became scared. She ran home to tell her family. Prior to Loi Hunu's emergence at this spring, the waters had been only meagre, now it had become a large water source. The people of Ira Daba came and took Loi Hunu home with them. They fed him and gave him something to drink and he recounted his story.
Lisa Palmer 01-Mar-2012 04-Dec-2014
Mau Lau
On the high southern slopes of Mundo Perdido at a place called Seu Baru (M: 'the cooked meat'), the Kairui and Makasae peoples of the area recount their story of a spring called Mau Lau (M: ' the place of the civet cat') which in distant times simply disappeared. The custodian of Mau Lau, an eel from Luca, was tired of being abused by the local residents (who were capturing and eating eels from the spring) so one day it morphed into a family, led by a man called Wai Leki (who had transformed from an eel). This group of old men, women, children and their animals gathered up their magic basket and other belongings and walked off across mountains to the north. When they reached the northern eastern edge of the Baucau escarpment in a village known today as Wailili they met an old man and asked him for a place to rest. The old man kindly pointed them to a shady tree and they set down their belongings and made camp. When the old man returned the next day the entire family and their belongings had disappeared. Meanwhile a spring had now appeared in the ground beneath the tree where they had made camp. Mau Lau and his people never returned to Seu Baru and to this day the people of the Seu Baru region are fearful of the repercussions of bathing in the potentially hostile springs of Wailili.
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014 04-Dec-2014
Mau Pula
Uma Lulik:

An important spring for rice irrigation at Seu Baru. Connected to the stories of Mau Lau and Wau Gau.
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014 04-Dec-2014
Oca Ba'i
Part of the Wai Daba spring complex
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014 01-Jun-2015
System Administrator 05-Jun-2015
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 02-Jun-2015
Wai Bui Lawa (Wai Oli)
Uma Lulik: Loime


The story of the spring called Wai Bui Lawa at Wai Oli involves two cousin brothers who were hunting bats in the caves above the sacred house of Loime. The brothers were people, but had turned themselves into civet cats to go hunting. The younger brother, called Bibi Leki, was from Uda Lolo. The older brother, Loi Leki, was from Ossu. Whilst hunting the bats, Bibi Leki lost his balance and plunged into the cave. After a year or so, he emerged from the ground kicking out a hole for the water to emerge. This place came to be known as Wai Bui Lawa. Bibi Leki appeared to be dead when he was found by a daughter of the Loime house. The girl wrapped his naked body in a tais (woven cloth) and took him the hearth of the Loime sacred house. Lying by the sacred hearth he was revived and eventually married the daughter of the house.The Loime house unsuccessfully tried to contact Bibi Leki's own family and in the end the Bibi Leki married into (kaben tama) the house of Loime. Despite this the house of Loime continues togive gifts of betel nut to the people of Uda Lolo (where Bibi Leki was from). When Bibi Leki died he was buried next to the grave of Loime. Now when they harvest first corn and rice, Loime ritual leaders call the names of both ancestors. At this time they must make 'red coloured' offerings and in return they receive the cooling blessings of the water and betel nut.
System Administrator 14-Jun-2012 08-Jun-2015
Wai Bu'u Wai Daba
The story of Wai Bu Wai Daba spring in the village of Gariuai involves two girls who were bathing at the spring when one complained that the water was not deep enough. Suddenly the waters rose and she was lost beneath them. The other girl, went to fetch the family of the lost girl and on their return they find the lost girl had transformed into a stone in the middle of the spring. A voice from the spring advises the families to return the following day. They did so and found a great herd of buffalo had begun emerging from the spring onto the surrounding plain at Wai Rana. A male buffalo appeared with swords, coral necklaces and gold on his horns. Worried that the buffalo herd would overflow the area, the dead girl's family called out that that was enough bufalo. The gifts brought by the male buffalo become the sacra of this family's sacred house and while the true owners are now all dead, these objects are still important today in the houses of Bahamori and Gariuai.
Lisa Palmer 15-Jun-2012 05-Jun-2015
Wai Daba
Uma Lulik: Wai Daba

Major spring and lake in the Wai Daba spring complex, Berecoli. Its water channels fed many rice fields. The ancestor named Ono Daba found this place and when re recited a prayer the water began to gush forth from the spring.

The spring's custodian tells the story of the ongoing significance of Wai Daba and the history of colonial change in the Baucau district: 

What is important here is water. Our forebears were able to produce fields, rice and plantations because of this water. Our rice fields are old. In monarchical times before the Portuguese arrived we already had them. We had no buffalo or horses, we would prepare the fields by dragging rocks through them. We would make a place and tie a rope to a piece of limestone and drag it around to make the soil muddy. There were no animals. And there were only a small amount of rice fields. These original rice fields were all named. When the Portuguese arrived [in the early twentieth century] they were recorded in a book of tax records, but when our sacred house was burnt down [in the Indonesian era] that book was lost.[i] In the past my aunt who married a Chinese in Baucau would pay the tax for this land. Her husband worked with the Portuguese administrators and he would collect the tax for them. The Portuguese sent only the children of the rulers to school—this was a kind of politics. If this hadn't been the case we would all be smart by now. Berecoli is the heart of the Waima'a lands which stretched from here to the top of Matebian and across to Vemasse. While now these lands are largely dominated by the Makasae, it was the Portuguese that carved up the land. 


[i] This book of records is important in the context of a current dispute over rights to particular rice fields between the custodians of the land and waters and the descendents of others from Quelicai. In the early twentieth century, the latter were 'invited' in (through sacred agreement with a liurai from Quelicai) to farm in the area.
Lisa Palmer 19-Feb-2012 01-Jun-2015
System Administrator 13-Jun-2013
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 02-Jun-2015
Wai De
Near to border of suco Bahu and Caibada
System Administrator 07-Dec-2010 02-Jun-2015
Wai Hama
Spring in the village of Triloca
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 04-Dec-2014
Wai Hura Wai Naha
Wai Hura is a spring, village water supply and irrigation source in the village of 
Wani Uma. Connected to a spring further downhill called Wai Naha. The 
spring founders came from Luca by way of Ilu Manu. It is connected to 
the story of Wai Luca.
Lisa Palmer 15-Feb-2012 05-Jun-2015
Wai Husu
Uma Lulik: Kotalale

A major spring in Teolale feeding three major irrigation channels to Baucau's rice fields. 


The Waima'a speaking custodians of Wai Husu record that their ancestors arrived from Luca, but in this case in the form of an eel which emerged from the spring and transformed into a woman. Exiled from Teolale and moving to Caisidu five generations ago, the custodians of this spring return each year from Caisidu to Baucau to carry out ancestral rituals and feed the spirits of that spring. The story of this exodus and their ongoing connection to Wai Husu was told to me by one of the area's lia na'inJoao Graciano Simoes (Tetu Noko):

The house of Caime went from Teolale to live at Caisidu. The younger brother house of Loime in Tirilolo stayed in Baucau [and intermarried with the Makasae]. First they travelled west to Vemasse, Lenau, Wai Wono and then back to Ossu-Wa [near Caisidu]. The owners of the land (Wai Luo and Wai Hau) received them and said you can not return to Teolale you must stay here. They had a ceremony and killed many animals. They were told that they must respect the sacred water, rocks, forest, potatoes, yams and trees. We respect their custodial jurisdiction over these things until this day. They are the mother-father clans. Our main house is Kotalale.

Water is scarce here. We must travel to the springs of Wai Haulale, Tuo Ho'o Oli, Aubaca, Caibada and Wani Uma. When we fetch water we use bamboo and measure its use carefully. This is a dry land. 

Where we came from in Teolale there is a spring called Wai Husu [whose spirit guardian originates from Luca]. This does not belong to the Makasae, although they live in that area now. At this spring we always offer pigs to the water spirit from Luca. The people from Kotalale, Caisidu return each year to carry out these ritual offerings at Wai Husu. The Makasae people living there now can not carry out these rituals. We carry out the ritual feeding. When it is time for the ceremonies we will always take pigs for the sacrifices.
System Administrator 14-Dec-2010 02-Jun-2015
Wai Kinari
Uma Lulik: Defa Nawa


Wai Kinari in Caibada (Makasae) is now the custodial domain of the Makasae speaking house Defa Nawa.  At certain ritual events the original Waima'a custodians of the spring who now live in Caisidu will be asked to return and carry out the ritual prayers. It is a five spring complex:

1. Wai Kinari ('original people water')

2. Alamutu ('Jungle water')

3. Wai Lakulo

4. Wai Da'a Buti ('white hair water') 


5. Sala Ira ('war water')
System Administrator 08-Dec-2010 04-Dec-2014
Wai Kusilale
From the mountains of Ossu comes the story of Wai Kusilale (told by Rai Olo) . In the distant past this spring came into conflict with [the people of] another spring and as a result morphed into a family and left the region heading for the drylands of the north coastal zone. Wai Kusilale was left bereft of water.

Later an elder from Ossu set out for the trading port of Manatuto in order to trade rope (and therefore be able to pay his taxes to the Liurai of Ossu). As he travelled through the drylands to Manatuto he came across the family in Vemasse. 'Where are you going?' asked the old man of the husband, wife and children. 'We have packed up our belongings and are looking for a home in the drylands' they said. 'We have not been treated well at home'. Hearing this, the old man asked them to wait where they were and returned to Ossu to organize a major ceremony at the spring of Wai Kusilale. 

At this community ceremony the spring's custodians were 'fed' a red buffalo and implored to return in ritual prayer. Following this 'feeding', the water gushed back up out of the ground refilling the spring of Wai Kusilale. It did this with such force that the old man was knocked off his feet. 

Later, when he once more passed through the drylands of Vemasse all that remained where the family once stood was a tiny spring of water.
Lisa Palmer 01-Mar-2012 04-Dec-2014
Lisa Palmer 31-May-2012 08-Jun-2015
Wai Lakulo
Wai Lili is the name for a spring complex in the Wai Lili village.Wai 
Lakulo, is the head spring in the spring
water complex, which was once an important ritual centre (also connected
 to Baucau's Wai Lia spring-together they were kniwn as Wai Husu-Wai 
Lewa Wai Lili-Wai Wa. In the twentieth
century the Catholic Church arrived and erected a grotto at the site 
known as
Bo'o Dai (W: sacred) where ritual offerings were made to the Wai Lakulo.
 Then
during the Indonesian occupation sacred objects associated with the 
spring were
said to have become lost. These sacred objects, collectively named Baha 
Kura
Mesa Baha Dala Hitu (comprising a coral necklace, a sword, a gong and a 
spear) are
needed to properly carry out the rituals at the spring of Wai Lakulo.
In the ancestral past, these sacra were carried every year by the custodians of
the waters who would enter the spring and travel up its underground chasms
calling the waters forth and searching for its origins. They would travel for
seven days and seven nights and while they never reached the waters source,
after this yearly ritual the waters of Wai Lakulo would always flow well. While
subsequent generations of custodians carried out their rituals beside rather
than entering the spring, they would always have with them the ritual sacra
carried by the ancestors.
Lisa Palmer 02-Jun-2015 02-Jun-2015
Wai Lesu
On the southern high slopes of Mundo Perdido the water of the spring Wai Lesu are said to have once drained back to its origins in Luca. The spring takes its name from a lesu (K: a wooden rice husking implement). In its origin story the waters emerged from the ground following the fall of the lesu which was being pounded beneath the pillars of a sacred house located on a high precipice. Recovering the lesu from a newly emerged spring at the bottom of the precipice, the house of Wai Lesu began making ritual offerings to feed the custodians of the spring. But at some point in time these rituals ceased and as a result the spring water simply drained back down the mountain to its rightful home in Luca (indicating that the rice husking implement was also connected to the ritual power of Luca). By the time the water arrived back in Luca it had metamorphosed into human form and had told the ruler of Luca that the people of Wai Lesu no longer respected the spring. Meanwhile the house of Wai Lesu, bereft at losing their water, sent out a messenger to Luca to negotiate the return of the spring water. The ruler of Luca gave this messenger sacralised betel leaves and told him to return to Wai Lesu and prepare sacrifices for a ritual at the spring. There when all the necessary sacrificial objects and animals had been readied, the messenger of the house 'called' the ruler of Luca using betel leaves which he placed to his ear. 'Are you [the water] coming yet or not he asks?' 'We are coming', was the reply. As the messenger recited a prayer the sacrificial buffalo fell to the ground dead (a sure indication of the power and correctness of the prayer). Suddenly the spring water re-emerged, gushing from the ground to swallow up all the things prepared as an offering.
Lisa Palmer 21-Mar-2012 04-Dec-2014
Wai Lewa
Uma Lulik: bee geralsuco Bahu

According to Major Ko'o Raku (lia na'in suco Bahu), at some undefined point after the emergence of mountain peaks and dry land from a world of water, the first people of what is now Baucau descended from the central peaks of the Mundo Perdido range (according to this account they descended at the same time as four other parties who founded settlements elsewhere in the north east region). The two people who arrived in Baucau were a husband and a wife and they found themselves in a stony dry land bereft of water. So that they might eek out a living in this place, the husband set off for seven days and seven nights and returned to his wife with a bamboo cylinder full of sacred water from the southern kingdom of Luca. He threw down the water between the gap in his wife legs and a spring spewed forth out of the ground. This man took on the name of Wai Lewa and he became the founding father of Baucau, which was known then by the name of its spring Wai Lewa.
Lisa Palmer 04-Dec-2014
Wai Lia
Uma lulik: Wai Mata Bu.  


According to Baucau townspeople Wai Lia spring has its origin and source on the Baucau plateau at Wai Lia Bere near a place called Darasula. This is a summary of this story told by Major Ko'o Raku, lia na'in of Bahu. In the beginning there were two brothers there tending buffaloes. One day they were hungry so they decided to dig, cook and eat some yams. But then they were very thirsty. While they were sitting down wondering where they could get water they remembered the day when their dogs went missing and came back all wet. They wanted to know where the dogs got this water. So they made a plan. They cooked some more yams to give to the dogs, but before they gave them to the dogs they made a bamboo collar—tied with string—for one of the dog's neck. Inside the hollow piece of bamboo they placed ash from the fire and made a small hole in the bamboo. Then they gave the yams to the dogs to eat. The dogs were thirsty and headed off. In about one hour they returned all wet. Now the brothers had a way to find the water. They followed the ash that had trickled from the bamboo collar until they came to a big cave with water inside. They both went down into the cave and drew water, which they carried back out of the cave to drink. 

 After this they were still thirsty so the younger brother then went down again to fetch water. Inside the cave there were two places to draw water. On one side was a big cave; on the other side was a small cave. From the large opening the younger brother could hear the water flowing very loudly. He went in to have a look at what was making such a loud noise and suddenly he fell down into the water. He was under water a long time and eventually he emerged in the still water of another cave—Wai Lia in Baucau. During his long journey he had eaten his clothes. Arriving in the spring waters of Wai Lia he was now naked, and so he decided to stay there beneath the surface and wait. 


Then to the spring came two women, the daughters of a woman from Bahu. The older sister entered the cave and drew water from a very clean source. The man from Darasula was crouching beneath the surface and saw this woman drawing water but decided not to do anything. Then the younger sister came in to draw water, but when she exited the spring she saw that in contrast to her older sister the water she had drawn was dirty. She drew water two more times and each time it was dirty. 'What is making my water dirty'?, she thought with frustration. She looked down into the water and beneath it she made out a naked man. The naked man explained: 'I am from the savanna; I was tending buffalo there when I was thirsty and went down into a cave to draw water. Then I somehow ended up here.' 'But what do you want?' asked the women. 'Could you go and ask your brothers to bring me some clothes to wear?' asked the man. So the women went to ask their older brothers to take the man a tais [woven cloth] to wear. They did this and he got dressed in the water. 


When he came out of the water the two sisters and their older brother who had brought the tais were still there. It was decided that the younger sister would now marry this man. So they got married and lived together at the woman's home and they had a child together. And then the woman said, 'Now it is time for us to go to try to find your place so I can see where you come from. Do you still have family there, I wonder?' So they set off to look for this place, telling his story along the way and asking people if they knew of his brother and if he was still alive. Eventually they found some of his possessions hanging in a tree: his carry basket, cotton spinning stick, spear and digging stick. 'This is the place where I was tending buffaloes the day I became lost', he said. He got down his possessions and they kept walking. 

 They kept asking people they met about his brother and finally one man responded: 'Yes, it is me, I am your older brother. I thought you were lost forever.' The two hugged each other and cried together. The older brother explained that now as the younger brother had returned to his fuu [M: trunk/origin], they would now make a sacred house here at this place by the cave with water. The house was needed so that offerings could be made to the water and the story would not be forgotten. 'When the time comes for us to make offerings to give thanks to the water which we both found together, the people from Bahu, Caibada, Buruma, Tirilolo [the four villages in Baucau that receive water from Wai Lia] must also come together to kill goats, buffalo, pigs and chickens and then also bring some of them here for us to make our offerings at Darasula.' 'You must also make a sacred house [Wai Mata Bu] at Wai Lia,' said the older brother. This was so the four villages could also make the same collective offerings at Wai Lia spring in Baucau. 


After this they made their sacred houses in both places so they could remember this story and give thanks to the water. Each year the local population would carry out ceremonies so that the two springs would never be dry. This meant that they could make fields and plant rice and have plenty to eat. 


However, eventually the people from the four villages sharing the water from Wai Lia forgot to make their sacrifices. The water stopped flowing and many animals, crops and trees began to die. The people from Baucau went to the custodians of the water on the plateau and asked, 'Why is our water dry?' The custodians of the water explained the reason: 'You have not been making the sacrifices and you need to start doing this again.' So the people in Baucau started to make the required sacrifices again and after this their rice could grow again.
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014 04-Dec-2014
Wai Lia Bere
Uma Lulik: Ledatame Ikun

 The story of the Wai Lia Bere cave water source is connected to Wai Lia in Baucau town. Wai Lia spring has origin or source on the Baucau plateau at Wai Lia Bere (near a place called Darasula). In the beginning there were two brothers there tending buffaloes. One day they were hungry so they decided to dig, cook and eat some yams. But then they were very thirsty. While they were sitting down wondering where they could get water they remembered the day when their dogs went missing and came back all wet. They wanted to know where the dogs got this water. So they made a plan. They cooked some more yams to give to the dogs, but before they gave them to the dogs they made a bamboo collar—tied with string—for one of the dog's neck. Inside the hollow piece of bamboo they placed ash from the fire and made a small hole in the bamboo. Then they gave the yams to the dogs to eat. The dogs were thirsty and headed off. In about one hour they returned all wet. Now the brothers had a way to find the water. They followed the ash that had trickled from the bamboo collar until they came to a big cave with water inside. They both went down into the cave and drew water, which they carried back out of the cave to drink. 

After this they were still thirsty so the younger brother then went down again to fetch water. Inside the cave there were two places to draw water. On one side was a big cave; on the other side was a small cave. From the large opening the younger brother could hear the water flowing very loudly. He went in to have a look at what was making such a loud noise and suddenly he fell down into the water. He was under water for a period of seven days and seven nights during which time he encountered two eels, one white and one black/yellow. Both offered to help him find his way out. He chose to go with the white eel and eventually he emerged in the still water of another cave—Wai Lia in Baucau [if he had chosen the black eel he would have followed the waters underground path to the sea (the 'other world') and never re-emerged in this world again]. During his long journey he had eaten his clothes as the white eel had warned him that if he had eaten the fruits of the gardens he encountered under the water he would never have emerged from that world. Arriving in the spring waters of Wai Lia he was now naked, and so he decided to stay there beneath the surface and wait.

Then to the spring came two women, the daughters of a woman from Bahu. The older sister entered the cave and drew water from a very clean source. The man from Darasula was crouching beneath the surface and saw this woman drawing water but decided not to do anything. Then the younger sister came in to draw water, but when she exited the spring she saw that in contrast to her older sister the water she had drawn was dirty. She drew water two more times and each time it was dirty. 'What is making my water dirty'?, she thought with frustration. She looked down into the water and beneath it she made out a naked man. The naked man explained: 'I am from the savanna; I was tending buffalo there when I was thirsty and went down into a cave to draw water. Then I somehow ended up here.' 'But what do you want?' asked the women. 'Could you go and ask your brothers to bring me some clothes to wear?' asked the man. So the women went to ask their older brothers to take the man a tais [woven cloth] to wear. They did this and he got dressed in the water. 

When he came out of the water the two sisters and their older brother who had brought the tais were still there. It was decided that the younger sister would now marry this man. So they got married and lived together at the woman's home and they had a child together. And then the woman said, 'Now it is time for us to go to try to find your place so I can see where you come from. Do you still have family there, I wonder?' So they set off to look for this place, telling his story along the way and asking people if they knew of his brother and if he was still alive. Eventually they found some of his possessions hanging in a tree: his carry basket, cotton spinning stick, spear and digging stick. 'This is the place where I was tending buffaloes the day I became lost', he said. He got down his possessions and they kept walking. 

They kept asking people they met about his brother and finally one man responded: 'Yes, it is me, I am your older brother. I thought you were lost forever.' The two hugged each other and cried together. The older brother explained that now as the younger brother had returned to his fuu [M: trunk/origin], they would now make a sacred house here at this place by the cave with water. The house was needed so that offerings could be made to the water and the story would not be forgotten. 'When the time comes for us to make offerings to give thanks to the water which we both found together, the people from Bahu, Caibada, Buruma, Tirilolo [the four villages in Baucau that receive water from Wai Lia] must also come together to kill goats, buffalo, pigs and chickens and then also bring some of them here for us to make our offerings at Darasula.' 'You must also make a sacred house at Wai Lia,' said the older brother. This was so the four villages could also make the same collective offerings at Wai Lia spring in Baucau.

After this they made their sacred houses in both places so they could remember this story and give thanks to the water. Each year the local population would carry out ceremonies so that the two springs would never be dry. This meant that they could make fields and plant rice and have plenty to eat. 

However, eventually the people from the four villages sharing the water from Wai Lia forgot to make their sacrifices. The water stopped flowing and many animals, crops and trees began to die. The people from Baucau went to the custodians of the water on the plateau and asked, 'Why is our water dry?' The custodians of the water explained the reason: 'You have not been making the sacrifices and you need to start doing this again.' So the people in Baucau started to make the required sacrifices again and after this their rice could grow again.
Background:

As a past and present focal point for the coastal region water increase ceremonies, the Wai Lia Bere and Wai Lia Mata cave springs are critical to the organization of Baucau's regional water ritual ecology. Yet thesub-villageof Darasula (M: 'the edge of the savanna') in general and Darasula's Ledatame Ikun sacred house have only a few hectares of wet-rice cultivation themselves. Irrigated by a small seasonal spring called Wai Lobi these rice fields are known as the 'plate' (M: ra'u) which feeds the ancestors of the Ledatame sacred house. With their water predominantly subterranean, the Waima'a and Makasae speaking peoples of Darasula are largely dryland agriculturalists of rice, peanuts and other vegetables. In addition to tending candlenut plantations they also graze many livestock across their unfenced lands. According to the Ledatame ritual custodians of the water, one of the conditions of the sacred oath between the Ledatame ancestors and those from other communities connected through 'downstream' subterranean water flows, is that these latter communities can only farm the very edges of escarpment zone and the marine terraces below it. As the underground water from the plateau descends to feed and make fertile the lush spring groves of the marine terrace zone, this sacred agreement ensures that the coastal populations refrain from grazing their livestock on the savanna proper. The savanna is the domain of dryland agriculturalists of Darasula and surrounds.
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 04-Dec-2014
Wai Lia Mata
Uma Lulik: Ledatame Ikun


During water increase rituals carried out at Wai Lia Bere the sacrifices of larger animals (buffalo, goats) will take place outside the entrance to Wai Lia Bere, while the sacrifice of additional smaller animals takes place at Wai Lia Bere's wii, or wife, a cave water source known as Wai Lia Mata (M: mata=small) which is located two kilometres away. While the main ceremony and sacrifice is carried out above ground, a portion of the cooked meat and rice will be placed on plates fashioned out of bamboo lengths and carried by ritual leaders down into the water cave where it is left on a ledge as an offering to the ira gauhaa (Makasae: 'custodians of the water') who are manifest as pythons.
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 02-Jun-2015
Wai Lili
Wai Lili is the name for a spring complex in the Wai Lili village.Wai Lakulo, is the head spring in the spring
water complex, which was once an important ritual centre (also connected to Baucau's Wai Lia spring-together they were kniwn as Wai Husu-Wai Lewa Wai Lili-Wai Wa. In the twentieth
century the Catholic Church arrived and erected a grotto at the site known as
Bo'o Dai (W: sacred) where ritual offerings were made to the Wai Lakulo. Then
during the Indonesian occupation sacred objects associated with the spring were
said to have become lost. These sacred objects, collectively named Baha Kura
Mesa Baha Dala Hitu (comprising a coral necklace, a sword, a gong and a spear) are
needed to properly carry out the rituals at the spring of Wai Lakulo.
In the ancestral past, these sacra were carried every year by the custodians of
the waters who would enter the spring and travel up its underground chasms
calling the waters forth and searching for its origins. They would travel for
seven days and seven nights and while they never reached the waters source,
after this yearly ritual the waters of Wai Lakulo would always flow well. While
subsequent generations of custodians carried out their rituals beside rather
than entering the spring, they would always have with them the ritual sacra
carried by the ancestors.
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 04-Dec-2014
Wai Liu
Spring in rice fields of Caibada
System Administrator 05-Jun-2015
Wai Lotu
Following the formal divisioning of island Timor between the Dutch and the Portuguese in 1859, in 1862 Governer Alfonso da Castro divided Portuguese Timor into 11 districts. While the formal administrative boundaries were new, according to Soares, the boundaries were drawn up in consultation with political and ritual leaders across the east of the island and largely followed the existing sacred border agreements between the kingdoms and sub-kingdoms. One such agreement was said to have occurred early in the colonial period between the houses of Loi Leki in Wailili and the emerging 'autonomous' kingdom of Vemasse. This story centers on a spring called Wai Lotu (which is today connected to the five branch houses of Loi Leki) and provides a local account of the arrival of Portuguese rule (in the form of a sceptre (rota) which they say they received from Vemasse in 1512). While both Wailili and Vemasse had received ruling sacra in the past from Luca, the people of Vemasse were now in possession of sacra (rota) given to them directly by the Portuguese in Lifao. As a result of these changing political dynamics, the Wailili rulers from the houses of Loi Leki house were called to the coast to make an agreement about the division of political authority under (symbolic) Portuguese rule. Following a ritual which proved the 'stupidity' of the indigenes of Loi Leki (and hence the political superiority of the rulers of Vemasse) the houses of Loi Leki carried the rota from Vemasse east to other kingdoms as far away as Baguia. This sacred oath created two new houses—Uma Meti (the ruling house of the sea) in Vemasse and Uma Lari (the secondary house of the mountains) in Wailili. As with the sacred oath made between the springs of Wai Husu-Wai Lewa and Wa Lili-Wai Wa (see chapter four), from this sacred agreement the people of the salty waters of Vemasse (ET: we masi(n)=salty water) and the spring of Wai Lotu (W: 'small water') in Wailili exchanged ritual names. Until this day certain houses from Vemasse are said by the elders of Loi Leki to have the rights to the fruits of the land around Wai Lotu and in the past to have come to offer annual sacrifices to the ancestors of the spring.
Lisa Palmer 27-Apr-2012 06-Jun-2015
Wai Lua
Wai Lua is a spring in Baucau town where the water trucks now fill their tanks. In 2014 the bee na'in (water custodian) was charging truck owners a levy of $1 per tank (a tank of water sold for US$12-$15).
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014
Wai Luca
Part of the Wai Mata Oli, Wai Masi, Wai Luca spring complex surrounding the Wani Uma sacred house complex. The story is connected to that of Wai Hura and Wai Naha.
Lisa Palmer 01-Jun-2015 02-Jul-2015
Wai Manu Kle
Uma Lulik: Boilekomu
System Administrator 18-Nov-2010 04-Dec-2014
Wai Mata Eli Aha Lale
Uma Lulik: Wai Daba

A spring connected to the Wai Daba lake where rituals are carried out.
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014 02-Jun-2015
Wai Mata Me/Wai Mata Oli
Uma Lulik: Wai Mata Me

This spring is located by the beach of Mau Ba'i below Buruma. At this beach there is a natural rock pillar of the same name which is sacred (lulik) and said to be the metamorphosed body of the crocodile ancestor on whose back the returning people of Wai Mata Me arrived from Roma.


These first people to settle at Wai Mata Me were a brother and a sister and they commenced their settlement below Wani Uma by creating two rice paddies which were named Bui Laku Bui Liri. They also brought with them bamboo lengths filled with water and when they moved to their final settlement site at Mau Ba'i on the coast below Buruma they created (M. saun=planted) there two springs known as Wai Mata Oli [W: large spring] and Wai Mata Me [W: small spring]. 


Meanwhile Major Ko'o Raku, the lia na'in of Bahu, recounts that it was two ancestors whose names were Leki Roma and Loi Roma who brought with them to Wai Mata Me buffaloes of the same name. The buffalo wallowed in the mud and broke up the earth below with their horns. From this act the springs were created and the water began to emerge. At Wai Mata Me a sacred house was built. From the spring at Wai Mata Oli the water was channeled to feed the rice fields below in the coastal area of Mau Ba'i (where the practice of metalwork or tuku besi was first introduced). These fields were named Da Holo, Ra Buti, Ria Siaka, Aha Isi, Manu Waru, Ra Gia and Wai Sara. Once the water had been canalised all the way to Mau Ba'i, the owners of the buffalo sacrificed the buffalo by the springs.
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014
Wai Mata Oli (Wani Uma)
This spring is a major spring in the Wani Uma spring complex comprising Wai Luca, Wai Mata Oli and Wai Masi. It is close to the Wani Uma sacred house complex and irrigates ricefields below. In contrast to Wai Luca, Wai Masi and Wai Mata Oli were not brought from anywhere. They emerged from the ground.
System Administrator 05-Jun-2015
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 02-Jun-2015
Wai Mori Bere
Uma Lulik: Lakudarabaha, Alawa'a, Lalabu, Lebalaku Fofa

This spring has an asserted connection with Wai Lia Bere (see below). 

The house of Lakudarabaha, a parent house of the Wai Husu-Wai Lewa complex, is the original custodian of the spring of Wai Mori Bere. In the accounts from the spring of Wai Mori Bere in Buibau, the various present day Makasae speaking custodian houses of the spring recognize that these waters as the domain of Lakudarabaha. In the account of the house of Alawa'a they, and their sibling house Lalabu, were requested by Lakudarabaha to settle at the spring many generations ago and establish a 'guarda' or staging post for Makasae speakers visiting Baucau from Matebian. In the account of the neighbouring Makasae speaking Lebalaku Fofa house their ancestors came to the area from Utabailema in Fatumaka and married with a woman from the house of Lakudarabaha establishing an ongoing fertility-giver and fertility-taker relationship. While the houses of this spring community now have their own ritual relationship with Wai Lia Bere (and the house of Ledatame Ikun) the pathway to this relationship was through Lakudarabaha, the true 'owners' of the spring. In 2010 a large collective ceremony was held at the Wai Mori Bere spring to re-establish the relationship with Wai Lia Bere and ensure that the post-independence flow of water would be strong. 

In 2009/2010 the spring community of Wai Mori Bere in Buibau reinvigorated their connection to the Wai Lia Bere spring and its custodians on the plateau. During the Indonesian occupation the resident communities around the spring of Wai Mori Bere fled to the jungle, or had their lives otherwise disrupted by military occupation. As a result these spring rituals were severely disrupted and it is said the spring became dry for nearly two decades. In 2009 a ceremony was organized to make amends for this breach of ritual obligation. An offering of a chicken and a goat was taken to Wai Lia Bere and a sacrificial ceremony was carried out at the sacred banyan tree by the cave followed by a descent into the cave where 'mother water' was collected. This water (M: ira falun) was carried in a bamboo container along with seven bundles of betel chew to the Wai Mori Bere spring. There the sealed bamboo container of water was immersed in the centre of the spring. Following this a ritual invocation by the custodians of the water was carried out and the betel chew from the ceremony at Wai Lia Bere was spat into the water. Through this process the sins of the ritual obligation breach were cleansed and the ancestors were asked to accept the request that waters flow once more. After seven days the water began to flow. Later the water carried from Wai Lia Bere to Wai Mori Bere was ritually returned to its source on the plateau along with an offering of a pig and a goat for the sacred house of Ledatame Ikun. With the ancestral connection thus ritually reestablished a further two ceremonies were required to cement this relationship into the future. The first was a ceremony at Wai Lia Bere in 2010 when a buffalo was taken to Ledatame Ikun by the Wai Mori Bere water sharing community as a final payment for the past breach. The second required the water sharing community of Wai Mori Bere to gather together for a large ceremony at their spring to 'ira gi gini' (M: 'bang firm' or strengthen) the re-established relationship. At this latter ceremony a buffalo was slaughtered at the spring.
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014 01-Jun-2015
Wai Mori Mata
In Buibau close to Wailili there is a spring known as Wai Mori Mata. The story of the spring revolves around a woman, the daughter of a ruler from the Wai Mori region, who moved to the area to marry into a local house. As she was reluctant to leave birth home, her father arranged that her 'alin' (younger sibling) should travel with her and live with her in her new home to help with her needs and keep her company. This 'alin' took the form of a bamboo length of water drawn from the spring of Wai Mori. When the woman arrived in her new home, this water was thrown on the ground and transformed into the spring of Wai Mori Mata ('the child of Wai Mori'). The role of the spring, like that of a youngest sibling, was to assist the woman in her tasks of boiling water, making rice soup and washing clothes.
Lisa Palmer 04-Dec-2014 01-Jun-2015
Wai Noe
A young boy is looking after the goats in a field near Wai Noe. He comes upon Wai Noe and decides to take his clothes off and descend down into the well. After that he is missing for three days, only his clothes remain beside the spring. After three days he returns to the village naked and tells the story that he had descended into the spring as he had heard a woman calling him telling him which way to go. She guided him through narrow caves under ground until suddenly he arrived at a big cave and water source (Wai Lia in Baucau) where he saw this woman waiting. She was very happy to see him and offered him food and other things. But he was naked and embarrassed so as soon as he could he escaped running all the way back to Gariuai.
System Administrator 24-Nov-2010 01-Jun-2015
Wai Ode
Uma Lulik: Macadai

Following the water dividing ceremony to share the water from the main irrigation channel connecting Wai Lia to the sea below Caibada Wani Uma, a ritual feast will be held at the rice fields and spring of Wai Ode.
System Administrator 01-Jun-2015
Wai Ragi
Spring in Buasere, Baucua. Small feeder for irrigation channels.
System Administrator 02-Jun-2015
Wai Suma
Part of the Wai Husu complex in Baucau
System Administrator 14-Dec-2010 02-Jun-2015
Wai Taka ho Mundo Perdido
In east central Timor the rocks and soil of the Mundo Perdido[i] mountain range (also sometimes known as K: Wai Nete Watu Ba'i='rising water, sacred rock') are conceptualized as the skin beneath which water pools after rising up through the earth from the sea. As it rises, this salty water is transformed into fresh water. Whilst life giving, it does not yet have the necessary force to transform into life itself. Rather, life requires its activation by another element—the sun, or its associative force, fire. Emerging forth from the subterranean darkness into the light of the surface world, the life potential inherent in water is transformed into life itself by the power of fire. 

The most important site atop Mundo Perdido is a place, once a spring, called Wai Taka ('closed water') a powerful portal to the 'other world'. It was through this transitional space that Timorese lieutenants of the colonial Portuguese army were said to have been sent by their superiors to train in Macau. Entering this 'door' to the other world, some would later return to roam the peaks as men in animal costume, causing havoc for the gardens of the local population. Yet at some point the Portuguese closed 'the door', placing on the site a cemented mountain cairn. 


[i] Referred to as Mundo Perdido (literally 'lost world' in Portuguese) by the Portuguese in the early twentieth century, this mountain range is known by many local language names depending on your origin house, your language, and what part of the mountainous landscape you are referring to and why. In everyday conversation Timorese now also refer to this mountain as Mundo Perdido. Its other names are generally reserved for ritual use when many names referring to particular rocky peaks, features and springs are called out in succession.
Lisa Palmer 17-May-2012 06-Jun-2015
Wai Te
Spring close to Wai Daba
System Administrator 01-Jun-2015
Wai Ulau
The story of Wai Ulau told by Salvador Monteiro


A young man from Daragia Spring (near Irabere in Watu Carabao) requests permission to marry a young woman from Ossu. The woman and her parents refuse. He carries water from Daragia to Ossu in 7 blowpipes. He spills them on the ground by the pillars of the woman's house. There is a huge crashing sound as the ground beneath the house opens up and the hamlet and its occupants are swallowed up. A spring called Wai Ulau emerges.  A bird flys off to  Lalabu near Ossu Rua and a new spring emerges there as well.
Lisa Palmer 21-Mar-2012 01-Jun-2015
System Administrator 12-Nov-2010 08-Jun-2015
Watabo
Watabo is a freshwater tidal spring. In local understandings its water flows from the cave of Wai Lia Bere on the Baucau plateau via a deep underground channel. A high level parallel  channel from Wai Lia Bere flows closer to the surface and ends when it emerges in spring of Wai Lia in Baucau town.
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014
Watu Bok
A sacred spring used to feed the rice fields by the sea below Wani Uma (may replace or supplement the water channelling down from from Wai Lia in Baucau).
System Administrator 05-Jun-2015
Watu Mea
Spring below Baucau at coast
System Administrator 01-Jun-2015
Wau Gau
The story of Wau Gau (Kairui: 'pig's head') is connected to the story of Mau Lau which left Seu Baru in Ossu, morphed into a family before settling in the Wailili area and morphing back into a spring. Similarly Wau Gau left Seu Baru and travelled across country in search of a new home. Eventually the spring morphed back into the ground giving its name to the area of Wau Kau (the Waima'a rendering of Wau Gau).
System Administrator 04-Dec-2014 01-Jun-2015
We Biku (Fatumea)
In Fatumea there is spring We Biku (biku=does not flow or spread or piling up).


We Biku

Nee ita hotu hotu niakan

Ita hotu hotu

Biku iha nia

 We Biku 

Belongs to us all 

All of us

Are piled up there. 


From this origin spring as the eternal mother, the eternal life-generating and life-bearing mother, we get two more springs: We Sei, where the water flows through bamboo (au) and falls to the ground (male) and We Hali, the water where the woman sits like the banyan (hali) roots (female). 


We Hali, lihun neefeto 

We Sei, sei nee mane

We Hali na mamar we sei 


We Hali, the pool is female

We Sei, the flowing down water (like from the waterfall) is male

The female entices the male 


We lihun mesan dei la dadi

We Sei-We Hali, foin dadi

We Biku sai We Hali-We Sei


Water pools alone cannot generate life

The encounter between We Sei-We Hali generates life 

From We Biku comes We Hali-We Sei

foin nia ha'ak wa'i mata) or consciousness.
Lisa Palmer 01-Jun-2015 01-Jun-2015
We Bukurak (Fatumea)
We Bukurak (buku=a dark colour, rak=blood), is another sacred spring at Fatumea, where the spirits of the dead and the living enter and exit from this world (raiklaran). It is in the rainforest called Alas Bei Laran (lit. 'the forest of the heart of the ancestors') on the slope of the Bei Ulun Molik mountain. What happens in the spring water is an exchange of blood between the newly born (through the blood of life) and the blood which leaves the bodies of the dead several days after death (the blood of death). Hence this water is the place of transfer between life and death, the souls pass in and out transferring their blood in the water, the ultimate cosmic exchange (in the underworld male and female intermingle). Although the water of We Bukurak is not drinkable, it is sacred water. It has a yellow and red colour that looks like blood. The story was told (with respect mixed with fear) to us thus:


We Bukurak

Ita moris husi nia

Itakan ina niakan raan

Raan iha mak ita iha

We Bukurak

We are born from her

She is our mother's blood

Where there is blood there is life



Moris s tuir We Bukurak

Moris mos tuir nia 

Ita hotu hotu sai 

no lakonmos tuir nia

Birth follows We Bukurak

Death also follows her path

We all emerge and die following her path



Hosi We Bukurak ne

Sai ema hotu hotu

Metan, mutin, makerek

From We Bukurak

Everyone emerges

Black, white, coloured.
Lisa Palmer 01-Jun-2015 01-Jun-2015
We Feto Fouk
Oe Alas (forest of rattans) was traditionally a territory of the Kingdom Lookeu (Koba Lima). It is now in West Timor and a part of the Kingdom of Dafala (wife-takers to Lookeu).In Oe Alas there is a spring called We Feto Fouk (feto fouk=daughter-in-law). Here on occasions a ceremony will be held and holy water will be taken from the spring back to the sacred house of Uma Mahawar where it will be sprinkled over a new daughter-in-law (who is also called feto uma nain = the custodian of the house), during a special prayer,who will be blessed with matak malirin and welcomed as a new member of Uma Mahawar (see also Vroklage 1952a: 353-357; Neonbasu 2005:322). As in other water sprinkling ceremonies the green leaves used to sprinkle the holy water over the new daughter-in-law is taken from the kalirin bush (kalirin=making cool).
Lisa Palmer 02-Jun-2015 02-Jun-2015
We Feto/We Lalosuk
In Belu, West Timor in the village of Taek Soruk are a set of springs known collectively as We Feto (feto=woman). We Feto refers in particular to one spring on the edge of a river bank where a story tells of an old woman who went missing when she went to fetch water at midday. When her husband went to find her all he found by the spring was her earthen cooking pot (sanan) and a dried bamboo cylinder called au toka. It is a common belief in Taek Soruk[1] as well as in Koba Lima that is dangerous for a woman, especially a pregnant woman, to go to spring at midday because this is the time that malevolent spirits are believed to be most active and they may harm her. Further upstream from We Feto is another bank edge spring known as We Lalosuk (lalosuk=stirring up from the ground) with a large stone altar on the river's edge. Some years ago the people from the house connected to this spring moved it to Manuleten (manu=bird, leten=above the ground) near Oe Alas. A large collective ceremony was held at We Lalosuk and fifty chickens were sacrificed along with a pig before water infused with the blood of the pig was placed in a green bamboo cylinder and carried in a baby sling to the new location in Manuleten. Here the 'child' (oan) of We Lalosuk was thrown to the ground to create a new spring We Katimun (katimun=a type of tree that grows near water spring) in Manuleten. The mother water (we inan) at We Lalosuk has been diminished since. 


[1] Taek Soruk is a part of the territory of the ancient kingdom of Lookeu and the majority of the people in Taek Soruk belong to the kingdom of Lookeu and identify themselves as people of Lookeu and as such as the people of Koba Lima. Today, due to wars and displacements and changes to political territories, administratively they belong to the kingdom of Fatu Baa. Their elected leader is currently a son of the traditional ruler of Lookeu.
Lisa Palmer 02-Jun-2015 02-Jun-2015
We Fulan
Oe Alas (forest of rattans) was traditionally a territory of the Kingdom Lookeu (Koba Lima). It is now in West Timor and a part of the Kingdom of Dafala (wife-takers to Lookeu). One spring in the complex is known as We Fulan. While the spring belongs to Uma Mahawar the name for the spring was given by two kings from Lookeu, Tita Lorok and Daka Lorok. Passing by the spring on their way to conquer the lands of others they 'hafulan' (furtively survey) the area in order to ascertain if others were in the vicinity. So We Fulan refers to the water where they hafula malu (where they furtively survey).
Lisa Palmer 02-Jun-2015 02-Jun-2015
We Hali
Uma Lulik: Fatumea

The story of the spring of We Hali in highland Fatumean is connected to that of the great Timorese kingdom of Wehali on the southern plains of Betun, Besikama and Kaminasa in West Timor and Suai Loro and Suai Kamanasa in East Timor. According to the master of the sacred story of Fatumea, Suri Burak Dato Alin Fatumea and other elders of Fatumean and Lookeu, the great Timorese kingdom of We Hali originated from Fatumean:

We Sei We Hali are originally in Fatumea. Later people from Fatumea took water from We Sei We Hali in Fatumea in a bamboo cylinder with a branch of the banyan (hali) tree in Fatumea, and brought them to the flat land. While pouring the water into the ground and planting the banyan branch, they said:'We Sei...ee...ee.....We Hali...ee...eee.... These lands will no longer be covered by the tide and the flood.' And they remained there and named the place We Sei We Hali.
Lisa Palmer 04-May-2012 01-Jun-2015
We Lolo
The story of We Lolo as told by David Amaral the lia na'in ('custodian of the words') of the apical house of Uma Kan Lor in Luca concerns seven siblings who emerged from the earth. These seven siblings commenced tilling the land (ET: fila rai) around Luca which had until then neither fields nor water. As a consequence the youngest of the siblings was continually beaten and sent to fetch water from the far west and the far east of the island. One day as the youngest sibling sat exhausted under a banyan tree he sobbed out loud that it would be best if he took his own life. Yet as he spoke these words, water started to gush out from beneath his feet. Later after a dog ran off to find the older brothers, they arrived to see that their youngest brother had morphed into water from the chest down. The boy, whose name was Nai Leki, told his older siblings that he had now transformed into the sacred spring of We Lolo. His head then transformed into a water bowl (we lolo) and lodged in the banyan tree now called Nai Leki. The spring water then flowed from We Lolo to sea passing through the sacred tidal lagoon of Luca called We Liurai (ET: 'ruler's water') at the coast. Luca became a kingdom of seven villages and a centre of power. Meanwhile these sacred origin waters of Luca are known metaphorically as we ai balun ('wooden safe water') as it is from these waters that the wealth of Luca has been distributed across the land.
Lisa Palmer 09-Jan-2014 04-Dec-2014
We Lulik (Fatumea)
In Fatumea there is one spring called We Lulik at the top of the Bei Ulu Molik ('the bald head of the grand ancestor') mountain (around 1800 feet above sea level). The spring is believed to be connected with the sea as its waters decrease during the low tide of the ocean, and are full during the high tide. It emerged first when all else was sea. This is the most sacred spring for the people of Koba Lima. It has a particular sacred name, but because of its sacredness and because the respect for and fear of its great sacredness and great heat, its name can only be mentioned at those rare times when community sacred offerings are made.
Lisa Palmer 01-Jun-2015 01-Jun-2015
We Nea/We Kalabuin
Oe Alas (forest of rattans) was traditionally a territory of the Kingdom Lookeu (Koba Lima). It is now in West Timor and a part of the Kingdom of Dafala (wife-takers to Lookeu). In this rainforest there is a spring known as We Nea (originally haknea=kneeling or knea=knee). The place was so named when the ancestral 'owners or custodians of the water'(we nain) Leki Mauk and La Mera Mauk came across the spring where one or both of them were shot in the knees by a traditional weapon of a hidden enemy. The pair crawled on their knees one kilometre through a forest of sacred bamboo to the spring of We Kalabuin (kalabuin=spinning top), where they washed their wounds and were immediately healed. Since this time warriors from the houses connected to Oe Alas have always gone to We Kalabiun to be healed. The healing waters of We Kalabiun are held in a self-contained pool with the water entering and exiting through a sinkhole. Given its healing properties, the people suspected that the waters of We Kalabiun must be truly sacred and hence connected to the sea (we sai t'oo tasi lulik tebes=water that flows to the sea is really sacred). To establish this fact the people threw into it a rice threshing implement(nesun) tied with a male head scarf(lesu). Sometime later the rice threshing implementappeared in the female north sea off the coast of Atapupu. There is a poem from the Uma Mahawar (the sacred house of Mahawar which originated from Fatumea), the owner of We Kalabiun, about the connection between We Kalabiun and the sea, a direct connection that waters of the area's rivers do not have: 

Fatu Baa Dafala rarin besiFatu Baa Dafala is of the iron pillar

Dadolen murak rarin besiof silver block, of the iron pillar

Mota hotu-hotu la lao sai tasiAll rivers are not connected to the sea

Uluk lubuk Dafala lao sai tasiThe headless Dafala (the Kalabiun spring) is connected to the sea.


Today both springs continue to be guarded (daka) by 'the owners or custodians of the water' (we nain), a complement of people, animals and vegetation. As well as the living descendents of Leki Mauk and La Mera Mauk (Uma Mahawar, Dafala), the springs are guarded by sacred eels (tuna) at We Nea and sacred eels (tuna), crocodiles (lafaek or nai bei='great ancestors') and pythons (likusaen) at We Kalabiun. The water supply at both springs is said to be protected by the roots and shading tips of the au (bamboo), hali (banyan) and beko (water tree). When the community related rituals take place at the springs the sacrifices made to the ancestral spirits and deities will be received by these animals and passed on to the invisible sacred world who in return bless the community with good health, productive life energy and fertility (fo matak malarin) (see also Traube 1986:194).
Lisa Palmer 02-Jun-2015 02-Jun-2015
We Surik Lulik (Wai Beu Ba'a)
A spring and town water supply in Dilor, Lacluta. Particular rituals must
 be carried out to ensure the town supply. The spring emerged from a 
female buffalo's nose before she returned underground. The male buffalo 
got his horn stuck at the spring.
Lisa Palmer 18-Sep-2013 10-Jun-2015
We Tasi
We Tasi is a large lake in the mountains above old Lacluta. It has a story connecting it to Vemasse.
Lisa Palmer 18-Sep-2013 05-Jun-2015
We Uas
In the kingdoms of Fatumea and Lookeu, as in the three other kingdoms of Koba Lima, the largest offering at the most sacred springs takes place only once every twenty five years along with the community celebration of their sacred house called dahur uma lulik that lasts for three weeks. The last community celebration of the sacred house of Lookeu took place in Lookeu of West Timor in November 1992 and was preceded by the biggest offering and celebration at Lookeu's most sacred spring, We Lulik or We Uas (uas=the original spring), in Foho Lor Lookeu, in East Timor. Dahuruma lulik Fatumea took place in 2010 and around 40 cattle and buffalos, more than 100 pigs, and countless chickens were slaughtered, during this celebration, preceded by the offerings and celebration at the most sacred spring, other sacred springs, sacred lands, forests, stones, hills as well as trees, and ancestral graves. It is only during this celebration that the sacred objects of the ancestors (bei siakan lulik) ordinarily kept inside the sacred house, are displayed to the wider community. They belong to the whole sacred house community, the dead and living as well as the lands, waters and mountains (see also Vroklage, 1953a: 415, 478). Here we focus on the offerings and celebrations made around the most sacred spring, and the holy water which is carried in two green bamboo cylinders(au bonun) covered with a special hand woven textile (tais).[1]

We take as an example, the offering and celebration at Lookeu's sacred spring in 1992, one week prior to the sacred house celebration and two weeks prior to the community blessing with holy water to mark the end of the sacred house celebration or feast. One week before the opening of the sacred house celebration in Lookeu, West Timor, at least two hundred people, men and women, young and old, of the Lookeu kingdom in East Timor and West Timor, gathered together at Lookeu's most sacred spring called We Uas in Foho Lor Lookeu, East Timor, for a sacred water ritual and offerings. They were there for two nights and two days. Thirty pigs and more than one hundred chickens were killed for the offering and celebrations around the spring, the site of the first sacred house of Lookeu, and site of the first ancestral graves. The activities prior to and after the offerings were made included cleaning up the areas around the sacred spring, storytelling, prayers, singing and dancing, preparation of meat and other foods for the offerings. After midnight around 3am when the 'queen of the stars' (fitun nain) appeared, the cooked food along with betel-nut offerings were placed on baskets called hane matan and were offered to the invisible owners of the sacred spring, the invisible owners of the sacred land and the ancestors by the lia nain ('custodian of the words') coupled with prayers. Following this the food and meat as well as the people were sprinkled with holy water (we lulik). Water was taken by the lia nain from the surface of the sacred spring and put into two bamboo cylinders (au bonun) and covered with woven cloth (tais), and placed on the altar made from stone at the head of the spring. This rite is called 'taking the top of sacred water' (kuru we fohon). Before the water was taken from the spring a poetic prayer was chanted by the lia nain in which matak malirin is repeatedly asked for (Vroklage, 1953a:521-525).[2] The following day the sacred water in the two bamboo cylinders were carried by two young and strong men dressed in sacred heirloom ornaments to the spring called We Onu (we=water, onu=plants that look like small bamboo which grow only in swamps) near the site of the current sacred house of Lookeu in West Timor. The bamboo cylinders filled with sacred water were then placed at the small altar made of rocks at the head of the spring next to two wooden statues of male and female deities (ai tos). Several people stayed there to guard the water until the last night of the sacred house celebration. A week later the celebration at the sacred house of Lookeu started. All people from the kingdom of Lookeu who live anywhere within or outside the territory of the kingdom came to the sacred house bringing with them pigs, buffalos, cattle, rice, betel nuts, cloth, drums and other things for the celebration which lasted for three weeks.

In the afternoon of the last day of the celebration of the sacred house, around four hundred people went from the sacred house of Lookeu to We Onu (one kilometre away) where the bamboo cylinders filled with holy water were still being guarded. Again two young and strong men walked in a procession with the crowd led by women beating their drums and men beating the gongs and singing and shouting. On the arrival at the We Onu spring, people danced and sang accompanied by the beating of drums and gongs around the spring. After a special prayer, the two young men carried the holy water in the bamboo cylinders, followed by the people in procession.[3] At the sacred house more people were waiting for the arrival of the sacred water, singing poems, dancing and beating of drums and gongs. The two bamboo cylinders were taken inside the sacred house and placed in front of the main pillar, the sacred pillar. A large red male pig and other five other pigs were killed by skilful individuals and the blood of these pigs was poured on the top of the sacred flat stone near the pillar next to the holy water. Several special baskets called koba with betel leaves and freshly sliced areca nuts were also placed as offerings next to the holy water in front of the pillar. Outside people were dancing and singing. Around eight o'clock at night the sacred prayer and history of creation(lia lulik) were sung by the makoan ('master of the sacred stories') reaching its peak at three o'clock in the morning when the 'queen of the stars' appeared and ending shortly after that. This was then followed by the matak malirin prayer (see also Vroklage, 1953b:15-16, 18-19)[4] and the sprinkling of the holy water over the people, the sacred house, the seeds, and the hai matan (lit. 'eye of the fire') referring to hearth and also symbolically to families(uma kain) and clans (uma fukun) within Lookeu and within Koba Lima as well as the sacred houses of Lookeu and Koba Lima and of other related kingdoms. The sprinkling of matak malirin in the form of holy water was made not by the elders of Lookeu but by the elders of the wife-giving houses of Lookeu (these elders are referred to here as malun). In the morning after the sunrise the spectacular event of the so-called ta karau (the sword sacrifice of large male buffalos) took place. After the deities and ancestors were offered the best parts of cooked meat and rice in special baskets (hane matan) placed in front of the sacred pillar, people ate their last meal together at the sadan—the gathering space in front of the sacred house. Cooked rice and meat and drinks (locally produced alcohol) were placed on top of large newly made mats (biti) and the people ate together. After that people in groups returned to their homes in different parts of East Timor and West Timor bringing with them the matak malirin for prosperity and well-being, and also the memorable joy of the community feast and of listening together to sacred story of creation, of the communions with their ancestors and deities, of renewing and strengthening their community ties.

We Uas ('original spring') is also known as We Lulik (Sacred Spring). This spring originated from the most sacred spring, We Lulik, at the top of the Bei Ulun Molik mountain in Fatumea, whose name is so sacred that it cannot be mentioned without a proper ceremony. The water from this original We Lulik was put into a green bamboo tube or container covered with woven cloth and carried to Foho Lor Lookeu and poured, with a ritual, on the ground there. A new spring emerged and was called We Lulik Lookeu. This was long before the Dutch and Portuguese colonial division of Timor in 1859. After the division of Timor,the water from We Lulik Lookeu was put into a bamboo container and was carried to Fatu Katouk, a part of Lookeu in Dutch Timor, a short distance from Lookeu in Portuguese Timor, and poured on the ground there under the shadow of a katimun tree. A new sacred water spring emerged there and was called We Katimun


[1]Likewise the Balinese Agama Tirtha or 'Religion of Water' centres on the acquisition and dispersal of sacred water carried in sacred bamboo cylinders (known as sujung),

[2] Vroklage recorded a rite 'hamulak ba oras kuru we fohon' from Lassiolat which is very similar to that of Lookeu and other Koba Lima kingdoms. 

[3] Ordinarily such bamboo water cylinders can be carried by anyone, but in this ritual context the overwhelming power of their sacredness creates a great heaviness necessitating that they be carried by young strong men.

[4] Two examples of prayer to ask for matak malirin from Diruma and Bekotaruik.
Lisa Palmer 02-Jun-2015 02-Jun-2015