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A Conquista de Baucau
In the early twentieth century Armando Pinto Correia (1935: 126-128), the famous Portuguese administrator of Baucau district, recorded an origin story for Baucau linked to three sons of the local patriarch. In this narrative, the patriarch divides the area between his three sons named Wono Loi, Tai Loi and Leki Loi and the sons found the town's present day villages of Bahu (Wabubo), Caibada and Tirilolo respectively (see Map 4.1). Yet by the 1980s when the historian Peter Spillett visited Baucau, in the accounts he heard these same three brothers had transformed into invaders from the south (Spillett 1999: 275).  Meanwhile in the nearby village of Buruma, these same three brothers were characterised as founding ancestors of the coastal region who had subsequently set out across the north sea to the island of Roma. One of them, Loi Leki, later returned to Buruma on the back of a crocodile (Spillett 1999: 275; see also chapter 3). In the course of my own research, I have been told versions of all of these stories. While confusing for an ethnographer in search of historical insight, what became clear to me over time was that the trope of these three named brothers, the one constant in all of these stories, enabled all tellers to connect people, differentiate groups and shift hierarchical relations across great distances and time periods. What was being prioritised was the forging of dynamic relationships.

Like Peter Spillett, Correia (1935: 129-133) was also told a story of the conquest of Baucau. However, his story features three un-named brothers from Makadiki in Viqueque on the southern side of the central ranges. These brothers, who lived by a spring, came into dispute and two of them migrated away in search of a new home and spring. As they travelled north across the landscape others joined their party. They arrived in the north and found Baucau's (now) six villages at war with each other (two against four). These southern newcomers were fierce warriors and because of this they were asked to join one of warring parties. The southern warriors joined the battle as requested and the war was won. While the southerner's ferocious battle tactics shocked their new allies, the locals were pleased with the victory and asked the newcomers what they sought in return. Their reply was that they only sought the rights to drink the waters of the region. The right was granted and a victory party was held. However, during these festivities the local (presumably Waima'a speaking) inhabitants were tricked by the southerners into participating in a ritual during which iron spikes (brought from the south) were plunged into their heads. With the local leadership now dead, the southern newcomers settled in to rule the region. 

The similarities and differences between the stories told firstly to Correia (1935) and later to Spillett (1999) are perhaps best explained by the fact that by the 1980s much had changed in Baucau. The in-migration of many Makasae speakers (discussed below) meant that many of the original Waima'a speaking houses of the area had either left the region or had, by then, long inter-married with Makasae speakers. In one of these origin narratives relayed to Spillett (1999: 270), the first king of Baucau was said to be a Makasae man named We Lewa who had three sons Tirilolo, Bahu and Caibada (although a fourth brother Buruma is also mentioned). This king was killed by a warrior from Viqueque whose own sons then divided up the area between themselves. In another conquest narrative told to Spillett, a party of 600 invaders attacked the area led by three brothers from Luca whose names were Tai Loi, Leki Loi and Wono Loi (Spillet 1999: 270-272). To try to repel these attacks the local (presumably in this version Makasae) inhabitants of Baucau sought the assistance of a group of 80 neighbouring newcomers who hailed from the Waima'a speaking area of Vemasse (and whose leader's names were Bahu, Caibada and Tirilolo). These southern invaders defeat the Waima'a newcomers, killing their leaders and driving them out. After this the brothers from Luca took control of the water supply (from the extant Makasae rulers), married with local women and acquired livestock. 

While all these trans-generational accounts of origin and conquest have a stable core of three brothers, they vary according to the situatedness of the teller and the time period of the telling.
Lisa Palmer 08-Jun-2015 25-Jun-2015
adat kona ba natar (Baucau)/rice and irrigation rituals
To enable their cultivation of the terraced fields around Baucau town, water-sharing farmers come together in cross village co-operatives to appoint irrigated rice water controllers known as kabu bee (or wai kabu in Waima'a and ira kabu in Makasae). These people enforce and police the annual allocation of water between sections of a particular water channel and between the rice farmers themselves. Each land owning village will have several kabu bee appointed at a meeting of the community of rice farmers connected to one particular channel. As Bahu is the older brother in the sibling relationship between the villages these irrigation co-operative will meet to appoint the various kabu bee at the Bahu village head's office. The water allocation for the annual rice growing season rotates each year between the various channels and villages and is determined by meeting of the village and sub-village heads in consultation with kabu bee and the rice farmers.

The position of the kabu bee is held until retirement or ousting due to a failure to properly fulfill their responsibilities. Payment for their services is made up by the collective contribution of a small portion of the rice harvest from each of the farmers in that area. The kabu bee is responsible for organizing the irrigation cooperative to painstakingly clear and clean the several kilometers of water channels which feed into the shared named blocks of rice fields[i][i]. These water channels are fashioned from mud, clay, rock, lime and in some places reinforced with concrete. Annual repairs include cleaning away grasses, tree and vegetation roots and rehabilitating channel wash outs with mud, rocks, and whatever other materials are at hand. At the same time the work team will close off the many smaller water diversions to non-rice growing areas. 

The kabu beealso co-ordinates the rituals for water dividing and sharing. Meanwhile water 'opening' ceremonies are carried out by particular ritual leaders at springs and theserituals ensure the ancestral spirits will send the waters down the channels to the rice fields. Immediately or shortly after this ceremony tosend the waters, a water sharing/dividing ceremony will take place at the fork in the main water channel above where the rice fields are to be irrigated in that year. During this ceremony, which involve ritual leaders, village and sub-village heads the kabu beeand the male and female community of rice farmers, a goat will be sacrificed.[ii][ii] The ritual leader will invoke the ancestral names of Wono Loi, Tai Loi and Leki Loi, amongst others, in order to receive and give thanks for the water. The names of other ancestors connected to the named blocks of rice fields below the water division will also be invoked so that they in turn will receive the water. The water in the channel is divided by the placement of rocks in the middle of the water channel. The measuring of this division will be done by the kabubee with the village heads and subheads witnessing that the placement reflects the pre-agreed division. Next to the rock division will be placed a wooden stake hung with small branches, the public signal that water sharing arrangements are in place and that from now on no-one other than the kabu bee is authorized to make changes affecting the water irrigation. Anyone that does will be penalized with the fine of a goat or in extreme cases will have the water supply to their fields shut off.[iii][iii] Following the water sharing ceremony a communal feast is held in the rice fields nearby. 

Democratically elected, the office of the kabu bee is essentially secular. While he is directly accountable to the rice co-operative members he is also in some respects an agent of the village or sub-village head. However, it is also clear from the process outlined above that his own and the irrigation co-operatives' work cannot be carried out without the active support, participation and religious knowledge of local ritual leaders, as well as the living human custodians of the springs. In some communities with less extensive irrigation channels the spring custodian will carry out these tasks of water allocation and dispute resolution. 

Once irrigation waters are received by each individual rice farmer they too will carry out rituals in their own rice fields. The most important of these are those carried out when the 'body' of the rice first forms and again after harvest when the 'first rice' is transported back to the farmer's sacred house. This rice must be transported back to the sacred house by a female member of the lineage[iv][iv]. This ritual, known in Makasae as rau wai ('good blood'), culminates at the house in the ritual washing of house members bodies with water collected at the spring associated with the house. After this ritual, water from any of springs which has fed the fields will be collected and sprinkled over the remainder of the rice before it too is carried home. 

All of these planting, harvest and water sharing practices and rituals are believed to be critical to the growth and fertility of rice crops and individual lineages. As we saw in chapter four, these ritual practices and relationships also extend upwards from the marine terrace zone to the custodians of the underground water on the Baucau plateau. A further component of the relationship between the ria p'obo (W: wet ground) and ria mhare (W: dry ground) communities is said to be the contribution to the house of Ledatame Ikun of one lata[v][v] of unmilled rice per rice farmer. The kabu bee is charged with collecting and delivering this 'tribute'. The gifted rice is then consumed by Ledatame Ikun in the ritual feasts for their twice annual ceremonies alternatively celebrating the harvest of dry rice and maize. Ritual leaders from Bahu are also invited to attend these feasts. The Ledatame ritual custodians of the water say that they do not demand this tribute, stressing rather that these are gifts which the coastal rice farmers choose to make. While it is unclear for how long this particular practice has been carried out it seems that the process has always been done under the auspices of the village of Bahu. The elders of Wani Uma state that: 

Recently the Liurai of Bahu asked us to take 50 lata (tins) of rice to Darasula. But we at Wani Uma have never gone there to do this. The smart people go. We ignorant and stupid people just follow what they say. 


[i][i] Failure to participate incurs a fine, usually a goat, although if a farmer or landowner (with labourers) is unable to participate a representative can be sent or alternatively a contribution can be made to feed the working team of men.

[ii][ii] Depending on size of rice fields each rice farmer contributes a small sum of money ($1-2) for this sacrifice. 

[iii][iii] Non-participation of rice farmers in the water dividing ceremony may also attract the fine of a goat.

[iv][iv] A similar set of harvest rituals is described in detail by Correia (1935: 92-98, cf. 64).

[v][v] Timorese use bulk not weight measures 'Lata =20 litre oil tin equiv 12.8 kg of unmilled rice' (Metzner 1977: 129).
Lisa Palmer 27-Mar-2012 06-Jun-2015
Ai kebo sai osan dada Malay mai (Baucau)
In Baucau in the early twentieth century a son of one of the ruling houses of Bahu, Nai Leki (later to become Major Carlos da Costa Ximenes), was drafted into Portuguese administrative ranks. During his career he served in several administrative roles across the district, including the prestigious post of Administrator of the mountainous posto or sub-district of Quelicai in the 1930s. In 1934 it is recorded that he accompanied the Baucau Administrator Armando Pinto Correia on an official visit to Portugal (Correia 1935: 256; Belo 2011: 134). He died in 1948, a few years after much of Baucau town had been destroyed by World War Two aerial bombing. It was Nai Leki, along with other indigenous leaders of early twentieth century Baucau, who was said to have enticed the Portuguese in to establish a town by the ancestral spring of Wai Lewa. By the time of Nai Leki's death in 1948, Baucau was a 'Portuguese town' with stately buildings and promenades, an emergent culture of its own, and a lively economy driven largely by the activities of the resident Chinese traders who had set up shop around Wai Lewa.

In 1930 the district of Baucau is recorded to have had 76, 482 inhabitants of which 16 were from Portugal, 3 from other colonies, 21 from 'other localities', while 148 were 'foreigners' (Figueiredo 2004). 'Foreigners' refers to the Chinese residents, mostly from Macau, some of whom, according to their descendents, had arrived in the Baucau region in the nineteenth century. Correia (1944) records that there was in the town a class of women called 'nonnas' who were either of Chinese descent or somehow associated with the Portuguese administration. Other girls who would come in from outlying areas to be educated and would also be initiated into this 'town culture' which included highly coveted skills of Portuguese cookery, cake decorating and needlework. It was in this refined milieu that Nai Leki announced on his death bed that his people, from Bahu's Ro'ulu hamlet, should now adopt Portuguese ways and leave behind them the traditions of the past. 

At some point during these early twentieth century counter-rebellion campaigns, the malae mutin (Portuguese) in Baucau were so low in morale that they retreated back to Portugal to regroup. When they did so they took with them Nai Leki or Major Carlos da Costa. On their return to Baucau, these officials and Major Carlos visited the Portuguese outpost of Macau. In Macau, Major Carlos made a sacred agreement between himself as the ruler of Bahu and the Portuguese he had met in Macau. Introducing himself as a native of a place called Posto Wai Lewa (the sub-district of Wai Lewa), he explained to them that, 'At my spring I have a fruit tree (ai-tobal) whose fruit falls to the ground as silver and gold'. This tale was intended to entice these malae to visit the region and augment the Portuguese settlement of the town. The story worked and they too made the long journey from Macau to become a part of the permanent and by now significant malae population. 

The sacred agreement made during this visit to Macau had also been a way of cementing the relations between Nai Leki and his hosts. As in other intra-local contexts such oath-making was formalized through an exchange of names. Likewise in this instance, Posto Wai Lewa exchanged names with Macau and became Waukau. A Waima'a poem recording this exchange is called 'Kulu ana de ana Waukau' (A little breadfruit born to the land of Waukau):

Kulu ana de ana Waukau-Makau		The little breadfruit is born of Waukau-Makau
Kulu ana de ana Makau-Waukau		The little breadfruit is born of Makau-Wakau

The metaphor is one of a single breadfruit tree with grafted branches producing two separate lineages. The relation between Portuguese Macau and Waukau was now one of siblings and the Portuguese were said to have later changed the name of Waukau to Baucau . By the 1930s Major Carlos or Nai Leki had become the most important indigene in the Portuguese administration of the Baucau district and, as we saw above, in his role as Chefe de Posto in Quelicai he is credited with pacifying the district. Yet despite joining the ranks of the local Lusophone elite he was known to carry with him wherever he went a particular lulik (sacred) object: a torn piece of cloth which had belonged to the great magician Joao Lere (Correia 1935: 136).
Lisa Palmer 15-Feb-2012 25-Jun-2015
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 17-Feb-2012
Lisa Palmer 08-Jun-2015 08-Jun-2015
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 17-Feb-2012
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 17-Feb-2012
Butu
In some stories from north-central Timor, people emerge together with water out of caves on mountain peaks, in other stories they emerge out of springs closer to the coast. What is also interesting is that in many of these stories, those that emerged from the mountain peaks are said to have spread out from there to populate the world beyond, some even travelling across the seas, returning later with the heightened knowledge of fire and metals, water and wet rice production. While some of these 'explorers' returned to their original mountain and dry land rocky abodes, others are said to have returned to settle by the springs which are scattered across Baucau's coastal marine terrace zone. From this point the stories tell us they began producing wet rice. Meanwhile another group is said to have arrived into the region from Luang (Leti) by way of Laga and travelled up to (re)settle in the mountains of Matebian. Major Ko'o Raku refers to these people as the Butu generation (other named groups with a similar migration pattern are called Luang, Dala Hitu (see below) and Makasar). Overtime these Butu people began to descend from the high rocky outcrops of mountains and settled in the savanna plain to the south of Baucau. As they were largely dry land farmers, these Butu people are counterposed with the wet rice farming people from the coast[i]. They are also characterized as 'hairy people' with extremely long facial and armpit hair, even hairy mouths. While the Butu people eventually established relations with the coastal zone growers of irrigated rice, the division between largely dry land peoples and those living around the rice paddies and lush spring groves of the marine terrace zone was for a long time a jealously guarded boundary. A Makasae ritual poem (masa) recounts:

'Butu usa, nasa nasa loi casa 

Gel bobo, bobo casa gel

Loi Lau Kati Lau mu'a gasi

Rim liu gas rini'

'I Loilau Katilau [ancestors of a founding house of Boile Komu in Baucau] 

make my rice fields and swidden here

I ban you from descending

You live in your place in the rocks up above'. 

Overtime Butu men, some of whom descended through underground water sources, married into the families of these coastal irrigated rice growers and the cultures intermingled resulting in complicated ritual governance relations (see Chapter 4 and 6). According to Major Ko'o Raku, Butu people have a sacred or lulik connection to futu, a Makasae word meaning subterranean termites. 


[i]Butu in this context can also mean growers of dry land cereals.
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 01-Jun-2015
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 25-Jun-2015
Fundacao do Reino de Vemasse
Extract from Dos Santos, E. (1967) Kanoik: Mitos e Lendas de Timor, Lisboa: Ultramar.
Lisa Palmer 08-Jun-2015 08-Jun-2015
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 17-Feb-2012
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 02-Jun-2015
Lisa Palmer 25-Jun-2015
Joao Lere
Joao Lere was 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).
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Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 17-Feb-2012
Kisar Dalahitu
Foundational cultural transformations in the Baucau region are recorded in stories of Major Ko'o Raku as being the result of local marriage relations and exchanges with island Kisar. These stories, emanating from confusingly unspecified time periods centre on a woman called Ono Loko (a daughter alternatively of Wai Lewa the founding ancestor of Baucau, or of the infamous nineteenth century ruler of Baucau Dom Joao Vicente Paulo from Boile). Ono Loko married with a ruler from Kisar known as Coronel Dala Hitu (Dala Hitu or 'seven times' was also the principal kingdom of the Ambonese in the 12th century).  Ono Loko travelled to Kisar with a local midwife from Baucau. The pair possessed knowledge which was until then unknown on Kisar, the knowledge of birth. Prior to this time, it is said that every birth on Kisar was a result of the cutting open of the mother's stomach (a procedure leading inevitably to the death of the woman). Yet with the assistance of her midwife, Ono Loko is able to give birth to eight healthy children, although each time this happens in secret. The nobility of Kisar were astounded and wondered how this could be possible. They checked Ono Loko's ears, nose and mouth looking for clues as to where the baby had emerged. Finally after the birth of her eighth child, the secret of birth was shared by Ono Loko and her midwife and the gift of life was given to the people of Kisar. In return, the Baucau region received back its eight sons and daughters who returned to found their own sacred houses. These children brought with them various objects which are, even today, central to marriage exchange relations in the region. 

In these stories of the return, the sons and daughters of Coronel Dala Hitu and Ono Loko arrive at a beach called Hare Lai Duro below the village of Boile in Baucau. They bring with them gold disks and weapons. After this they form relations through marriage with other groups and eventually these objects brought with them from Kisar become objects of marriage exchange, creating and cementing respectful exchange relations between fertility-giver and fertility-taker groups across the region. Later, more boats arrive from Kisar and they bring with them the much coveted Makassan swords which also become central to a respectful fertility-giver and fertility-taker exchanges and relationships . These boats landed first to the west in Laleia and near Vemasse at Ren'bo and Wai Wono. Following this further arrivals from Kisar brought coral necklaces [M:gaba] and these were given by fertility-givers to fertility-takers in exchange for Macassan swords. It can be seen that the original marriage of Ono Loko with Coronel Dala Hitu formed a pattern of marriage exchange whereby men and women moved across the water in both directions until the early twentieth century (see Correia 1935) . From this original exchange of goods (sourced from Kisar, Makassar and Ambon) subsequent generations in Timor have developed their own etiquette of marriage exchanges and respectful relations. Macassan swords, buffalo and horses given in exchange for coral necklaces (gaba), woven cloth (tais), rice and pigs remain central to marriage exchange practices in this area of Baucau.
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 25-Jun-2015
Kulu Kai ho Kulu Roma
Both the Waima'a and Makasae settlement histories of coastal Baucau area record the arrival of people, usually brothers, from the Peaks of Matebian and Mundo Perdido. In the myth recounted by the people of the Waima'a village of Wani Uma [W: 'house of the bees'] to the north west of central Baucau, three named brothers descended from the mountains 'in darkness' down the river valleys toward the coast. When they reach the coast the youngest brother had an injured leg and could no longer continue. It is recounted that as it 'was getting light', he had neither the necessary strength nor speed to continue this journey. At a place called Buruma [W: 'house of monkeys'] he heard the winged serpent crow, signaling to him this was the place he should settle. He did so and sent his elder brothers on their way. 

Waima'a ritual verse (loli)from the village of Wani Uma records this event, although unusually it does so in Makasae:

Asa bui bere du'u We male birds have come from the mountains

Kokoroe dana kokoroeBut the earth is already light 

Nadani la'a doYou two go on to the rocks beyond

Afasika na Wasika na isi la'aI am going to stay here.

Eventually the descendents of this man, in some accounts comprising a party of another three brothers, headed across the sea to settle on the island of Roma. Importantly, however, at unspecified intervals two of these brothers later made their way back to island Timor. One brother settled to the east of Wani Uma inland on the Laga coast beneath the Matebian range. This brother, who arrived at the house of Boleha, brought with him a particular breadfruit tree (kulu kai: 'the seedless Kai breadfruit'). The other settled to the west of Wani Uma in a coastal zone near Bundura called Wai Wono. This man brought with him another kind of breadfruit tree (known as kulu roma: 'the seeded Roma breadfruit'). Hence while both brothers symbolically shared the same trunk, the fruit of their respective branches was distinct. Oral histories recount that the branch which first settled with the Boleha house headed south up into the mountains of Matebian to a place called Baguia where they intermarried with the local clans (the nearby Afalokai is said to be the origin settlement from where first peoples of Wani Uma descended to the coast). In a story reminiscent of the Butu, the descendents of these kulu kai people (who are also said by the people of Wani Uma to have been hairy) then descended from Matebian in waves. Meanwhile the other group of returnees who arrived to settle at Wai Wono continued to move slowly east along the coast to Baucau. They first settled on the spring fed plain by a hillock called Wai Mata Me below Wani Uma. Later these people moved to 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 (later arrivals are said to have come on the back of a whale (M: afibere) and octopus (M: tala dau)). 

A Waima'a ritual poem (loli) records the arrival of these two waves of migration, referred to as the brothers of Kulu Roma and Kulu Kai:

Kokoroe Koe eThe male bird crows

Kokoroe koe laThe male bird crows

Ro mai-e – la dopa mai-eThe boats are coming 

Kokoroe koe eThe male bird crows

Kokoroe koe laThe male bird crows

Roma mai-e laThe boat is coming from Roma

Ro mai eThe boat is coming

La ro mai la teu Rai MalakuAnother boat comes from Malaku

Tasi tuku tasi tenaThese sons have been brought up across the sea

Iti ana watu rai tenaThey come to plant breadfruit and level the land (make paddy)

Kaiwetu kei aku resa keiIn separate hamlets and houses.

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].
Lisa Palmer 05-Jun-2015 05-Jun-2015
Luca
The people of Luca, the once great kingdom of the east, also record their relations to eels, water and the sea in narrative verse. The verse below recounts in Eastern Tetum the words of a long ago ruler of Luca who says:

Hau naran Lu Leki meti oan hauI am Lu Leki, the son of the tides

Hau naran Lu Leki tasi oan hauI am Lu Leki, the son of the sea

Hau katak ba tasi, tasi sei nakduka nuu lor baI command the sea to recede, it obeys me 

Katak fali ba meti, meti sei nakduka nuu lor ba.I command the tide to recede, it obeys me.

Luca's rule of the sea is then juxtaposed with that of We Hali, the once great kingdom of western Timor, whose ruler is said to be both the son of and the commander of the sun and the moon. Meanwhile the eastern kingdom of Luca is divided according to the parts of a buffalo:

Isin lolon Rai LukaThe main body is in the land of Luca

Dere too Wai BoboIts head extends to Wai Bobo[i]

Dikur balu We Masi, balu We Soru. Its one horn is to We Masi, another is to We Soru.[ii]

Across the eastern part of Timor Leste, Luca's central political and ritual power is continually encoded in myth and narrative, many of which are connected to springs. Yet as with its paired ritual counterpart We Biku We Hali, it is important to stress the fact that this domain is as much a ritual-political concept or symbol as it is an actual political realm (Francillon 1967: 113). It was the ritual connections of the immobile centre of Luca to surrounding emissary sub-kingdoms which held the domain together. While, as with We Hali (ET: 'banyan tree water'), the political importance of Luca has long since declined, its symbolic meanings and its encoding in ritual form remain central to many mythic narratives across the region. In many of these narratives it is Luca's power to communicate with the sea (and through this its capacity to access the wealth of the underworld) which remains a recurring theme. As well as a once expansionary and pre-eminent political presence in the region, by virtue of its power to tame the sea, Luca is the preeminent communicator with 'rai seluk' (the other world). 

While there is much in the oral history record which links Luca to the expansion of the kingdom of We Biku We Hali, David Amaral the lia na'in ('custodian of the words') of the apical house of Uma Kan Lor in Luca relayed to me a narrative concerning 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.

In mythic narratives found across the region it is to Luca that people have long travelled to receive, or emerged from to decree, the power to rule. Following a ritual ceremony at the springs of Luca, emissaries would leave as the kingdom's 'arms and legs' (ain liman) and execute the authority of the ritual centre across the east. As a part of this process, as we have seen above, Luca's sacred waters would be carried across the reg
[i] A neighbouring kingdom to Ossu and east of Mundo Perdido.

[ii] The buffalo is being used here to explain, amongst other things, the territorial power of Luca as the main kingdom, whose head reaches (dere) Wai Bobo (symbolizing the East here), whose two horns symbolising the North and South. We Soru [ET: 'woven water'] is Vessoru and We Masi [ET: 'salty water'] is Vemasse.
Lisa Palmer 05-Jun-2015 05-Jun-2015
Luca Wehali Dadoli
(Narrator: David Amaral (lia na'in), Uma Kan Lor, Luca)

Loro tolu babulu[1] tolu ba Loro SaenThree dominions, three kingdoms are to the East 

Loro tolu babulu tolu ba Loro TobanThree dominions, three kingdoms are to the West

Loro tolu babulu tolu Loro SaenThree dominions, three kingdoms of the East

Too TututalaExtends to Tutuala

Loro tolu babulu tolu Loro TobanThree dominions, three kingdoms of the West

Too Loro Suai ba sai Kupang Extends to Suai dominion down to Kupang

Loro tolu babulu tolu Loro SaenThree dominions, three kingdoms of the East

Loro tolu babulu tolu Loro Toban.Three dominions, three kingdoms of the West.

Neebe loron ida ferik ida ema uma kain Omain. Ferik nee katak: "Emi dadoko liurai oan nee hau mak katak. Katak kantiga. Neebe sia dadoki, ferik katak (One day an old lady from the house of Omain said: You rock the king's child, I sing the lullaby):

Dadoko ta beik la nonokRocking fails to stop the royal child crying 

Dadeta ta beik la nanoSwinging fails to stop royal child crying

La na no kaerThe child can not be comforted (does not want to be held) 

O Nain We HaliO the Guardian of We Hali

La na no kaerThe child can not be comforted (does not want to be held)

Nain We BikuO the Guardian of We Biku

Loron tolu fuik atu fuik liu liu.During three days the child turned wild, wild and wild.

Neebe ferik katak liurai oan nee para ona tanis, ferik katak fali ida (After the royal child stop crying, the old lady said):

Bone Bauk sa Bone Bauk modi ami oin ee laeBone Bauk, oh you, Bone Bauk, do you uplift us or not

Bone Bauk sa Bone Bauk tias ami oin ee lae.Bone Bauk, oh you, Bone Bauk, do you protectus or not.

Liurai Bone Bauk nee dudu taha ba fatuk leten nee, nia rona netik dei. Neebe ferik nee katak (While the king Bone Bauk was sharpening his machete on the stone, he was listening to the lullaby sung by the old lady): 

Bone Bauk sa Bone Bauk ee modi ami oin ee laeBone Bauk, oh you, Bone Bauk, do you uplift us or not

Bone Bauk sa Bone Bauk tias ami oin ee lae.Bone Bauk, oh you, Bone Bauk, do you protect us or not.

Liurai Bone Bauk dehan (King Bone Bauk then spoke): 

Se nalo sa kaer sa nodi emi oin ba sa?Who did what, held what, uplift you for what?

Nalo sa kaer sa tias emi oin ba sa?Who did what, held what, protect you for what?

Anin lor tabasar, Loro Sae tabasarThe south scatters, the east scatters

Murak hau la kodi, karau hau la kodiI brought neither silver nor buffaloes.

Kodi ba ko'i We Hali, ba hotu We Biku.I broughtthem to We Hali, I took them all to We Biku.

Murak liu rai murak,Silver goes to the land of silver,

mamuk liu rai mamuk.emptiness goes to the land of emptiness

Tahan emin nadiki rai la lian.While your leaves shoot, the land turns noiseless. 

Ferik aa katak tan (the old lady further said):

Hanesan tur iha Labunar We We BikuLike residing in Labunar of We We Biku

Tur iha Labunar We We HaliLike residing in Labunarof We We Hali 

Nare We Hali rai KakoliSeeing We Hali the land of Kakoli

Nare We Biku rai NakdukaSeeing We Biku the land of Nakduka

Kakoli atu ba koli tan netikKakoli is going for a walk

Nakduka atu ba duka tan netikNaduka is going for a stroll

Koli tia lor uma kain nen toluWalking around three of the six houses

Duka tia lor uma kain nen toluStrolling around three of the six houses

Loro uma kain nen niit ain hatThe lords of the six houses raise their four feet

Dato uma kain nen daet ain hat.[2]The guardians of the six houses move their four feet.

Miit ain ba makur liu We HabanRaising their feet to cross We Haban

Niit ain ba makur liu We HabanLifting their feet to cross We Haban

Makur liu We Haban Bone Bauk fohonCrossing over We Haban above Bone Bauk

Daet liu We HabanBone Bauk fohon.Trespassing We Haban above Bone Bauk.

Biti nain liu Resi, Resi Bai AfaniThe owner of mat Liu Resi, Resi Bai Afani

Naak atu tau lakon, naak atu fo lakonSaid to be hidden away, said to be given away

La tau ba balu, la fo ba baluIt was hidden from others, not being given to others

Fo fali fo basu liu ba Makasar fuik nia rain.It was given instead to Makasar, the land of the wild.

Mota Masin Babulu nia ain sai ba Tasi Mane (The River Masin Babulu flows down to the South Sea). Neebe ba Don ida Lu Leki too ba, ba Don Taek Aman tiha ona we iha Salele, iha namon Hahuduk (When Don Lu Leki arrived there, Don Taek Aman had already fetched the water in Salele, in Hahuduk beach). Neeba Don Lu Leki nee koa lia husu ona ida Taek Aman tan ba Taek Aman tiha we nee tiha uluk (Arriving there Don Lu Leki asked first Taek Aman because Taek Aman had been the first one to fetch this water). Neebe Don Lu Leki ba koalia dadolin (Therefore Don Lu Leki said the following poetic verse):

Be se hakari rai nee rai neeBut he who breaks up this land, this land becomes his land

Se hatir rai nee rai nee,He who divides this land, this land becomes his land 

Nee nia alin maun Taek Ama koalia (Then his brother Taek Aman responded in a well-versed form):

Be o ida musu hau o se los?But who are you to ask about me?

O ida seti hau o se los?Who are you to ask for my name?

Neebe Lu Leki koalia fila fali (Lu Leki then replied also in a poetical verse):

Hau naran Lu Leki meti oan hauI am Lu Leki, the son of the tides

Hau naran Lu Leki tasi oan hauI am Lu Leki, the son of the sea

Hau katak ba tasi, tasi sei nakduka nuu lor baI command the sea to recede, it obeys me 

Katak fali ba meti, meti sei nakduka nuu lor ba.I command the tide to recede, it obeys me.

Neebe Don Lu Leki nusu fali ba Taek Ama (Don Lu Leki asked Taek Aman):

Be o ida seti hau o se los?But who are you to ask for my name?.

O ida musu hau o se los?Who are you to ask about me?

Nee ida be We Hali nee koalia fali (The one from We Hali, that is Taek Aman,then spoke in similar poetic tones):

Hau naran Taek Aman fulan oan hauI am Taek Aman, the son of the moon

Hau naran Taek Aman loro oan hauI am Taek Aman, the son of the sun

Hau katak ba loro, loro sei nakduka nuu rae ba,I command the sun to rise, it obeys me, 

Hau katak ba fulan, fulan sei nakduka nuu rae ba.I command the moon to rise, it obeys me. 

Neebe ida be Lu Leki lian naaka We Biku nian nee koa lia fali (Then Lu Leki, the king of We Biku[3], said the following stanza):

Biit tolu biit, biit nanesaThe strength of three is equal 

Beran tolu beran, beran nanesa.The power of the three is equal.[4]

Hotu tia Don Kupang nee, We Hali nee koalia fali (Then Don Kupang, the king of We Hali, responded):

Ita rua sei keta rai ba maluWe both have to border this land

Ita rua sei taka rai ba malu.We both have to divide this land

Lu Leki koalia fali (Lu Leki, the king of We Biku, responded):

Ook tuka ba mota, Mota Masin BabuluYours extends to River Masin Babulu

Too hodi ba loro e toban los ona.From the other side of the river to the west.

Hauk tuka ba mota, Mota Masin BabuluMine extends to River Masin Babulu

Too hodi ba loro e saen los ona.From the other side of the river to the east. 


[1]Babulu = rai = kingdom

[2] The six lords have six sacred houses called uma mane nen (uma manen). These uma mane nen were then divided into two, each of which called uma kain nen tolu. The first nen tolu are called We Hali=Rai Kakoli, the second nen tolu are called We Biku=Rai Nakduka.

[3]We Biku is paired with and here refers to Luca.

[4]Loro tolu, babulu tolu, Loro Saen, and Loro tolu, babulu tolu, Loro Toban. Six lords (mane nen) with their six sacred houses (uma mane nen) which was then divided into two (uma kain nen tolu). Three in Loro Saen (We Biku) and three in Loro Toban (We Hali).
Lisa Palmer 09-Jan-2014 01-Jun-2015
Manu ketu tebe tasi
In the beginning Timor was created by a foot sparring pair of brother and sister birds (M: ketu). Their sparring kicked back the sea and so created the first dry land in the form of three mountains: Ramelau, Cabalaki and Matebian [see Map 5.1]. Sometime later Christu [a term (along with Maromak or God) which is now used interchangeably with the term for the preeminent indigenous Moon-Sun deity (M:Uru-Watu; W: L'ara Wulo)] descends and creates from the mud a human figurine . Christu then [like the wind] breathes life into the figure and fashions another figure from its rib. He then announces he will return in 7 days and orders the two people not to eat the forbidden fruit. Yet these two people listened instead to the python (M: talibere) and disobeyed the order. From this act they knew shame and hide their bodies under bark clothing. Later other people came from across the sea (Makasar) and showed them how to make tais (woven cloth). As their penance for eating the forbidden fruit, in order that they could have food to eat, they and their descendents were now destined to labor in fields growing rice and other crops. In order that he could help his older brother carry rice back from the fields, the younger brother of the first people secretly began transforming back and forth from person to horse. This act is known as kuda resa [M:'rice horse'] and it is from such [transformative] acts by the first ancestors that we came to know 'culture'. Today as descendents of these first people we continue to make offerings at large springs [the portals to the other world of deities and ancestors] in order to feed the spirits of the ancestors, imploring them to make the springs flow freely so that the people can live and grow their rice and other crops.
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 25-Jun-2015
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 17-Feb-2012
Lisa Palmer 26-Mar-2012 26-Mar-2012
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 17-Feb-2012
Lisa Palmer 17-Feb-2012 17-Feb-2012
Rubi Lai
The great flood
Lisa Palmer 22-Mar-2012 22-Mar-2012
Sadan Fatu mea and Koba Lima
Koba Lima was formed as the coalition of five kingdoms with Fatumea as the oldest and the most sacred kingdom. The four kingdoms regard Fatumea as the origin, the place of the first people (rai oan: lit. 'the first children of the land'). People of Koba Lima (Fatumea, Lookeu, Dakolo, Sisi and Mau Demu) also believe that Fatumea is the origin place of the first human being, not only of Koba Lima but also of the whole world. There is a familiar lyric among people in Koba Lima about Fatumea as the origin of Uma Tolu and Koba Lima and of humanity of various colours. The lyric goes like this: 'the yellow bird was laying an egg on the slope of Fatumea (red rock), frightened by the thunder she cracked her egg.' Symbolically, it has a twofold meaning.The first is the birth of the Uma Tolu, and then of Koba Lima from the same mother, Fatumea. The second meaning is the mythical meaning, that is, the birth of human race that spreads to different parts of the world in different colours and features. As the world was being transformed by the creation of these features, there was still much to be worked out, many things that needed to be negotiated and settled among human beings and animal beings. While space does not allow us to describe this process of negotiation and settlement here in detail, three critical events are sketched below.

Firstly, as the waters retracted and We Biku and the mountain peaks emerged there was an ongoing tension between the beings of this emerging world (rai klaran) and the beings already inhabiting a world of water. At first the 'custodians or owners of the sea'(tasi nain), the Nai Bei ('great ancestors') and 'custodians or owners of the water'(we nain) manifest here as people with crocodile tails, refused to make space (sia la fo fatin ida). But in order that the sea would give way and provide pathways for the spread of human beings an exchange was 'negotiated' and the leaders of tasi nain, Lim Berek and Mali Berek, were decapitated and their heads brought to Fatumea for a celebration at the ritual centre known as Sadan Wehali Molin We Hali, Sadan We Sei Molin We Sei. The 'custodians or owners of the sea' then made space, the waters began to recede, pathways and places were created for the first people to populate. In exchange, the first human beings promised to forever praise and respect the 'custodians of the sea' through a web of complicated ritual practices and perpetual offerings stretching from the mountains to the sea. Nai Bei is the respected name for crocodiles(lafaek) as they are the 'great ancestors'. 

Secondly, these origin waters faced an additional obstacle in the form of an impenetrable rock face to the north. While the waters could flow south via three rivers to the south male sea (tasi mane), the pathway to the north sea (tasi feto) was blocked by a rock face. A small rice bird (manu hare called lamin ) appeared and pecked a hole in the rock face allowing the waters to flow north via three rivers to the sea, Mota Hali Boe or Mota Talau, Mota We Merak, and Mota Bauk Ama, decreasing the water flow to the south and enabling the appearance of the plains (rai fehan) on the south coast which is, after the imposed division of Timor, in East Timor (Suai and We Keke) and in West Timor (Laran, Besikama, Betun, We Bria Mata, We Oe or We Biku, and Haitimuk). The rock face at the entrance to the female north sea is called Fatuk Lamin Toti (lit. 'rice-bird pecked rock face') (Grijzen, 1904:8-10) which is beautifully visible from the top of the mount Fatumea called Bei Ulu Molik (lit. 'the bald head of the grand ancestor').

Thirdly, the 'custodian of the tracks' (inuk nain) and the 'custodian of the path' (dalan nain), named Bei Leki Nai and Bei Nai Berek, are entreated by 'the deity of the great sacred, the deity of the great heat' (nai lulik waik, nai manas waik) through the previously mentioned first king of Fatumea, Bau Nahak (Bau Halek)[1], to plant two fast growing species of tree called ai donu and ai kala across the emerging lands, thereby stabilising the earth, providing fodder and enabling fire. In these understandings water is female, the purveyor of life and unity, it gives life to vascular land plants and these plants make fire possible. It is fire that ultimately transforms life. On the other hand, vascular land plants such as au (bamboo) and other spring associated trees and plants, such as the banyan(ai hali), water tree(beko and ai-we), pandanus (hedan),preserve water drawing it to the surface and/or preventing erosion.

Fourthly, the first human beings also had to negotiate their ecological niches with other animal beings especially goats (bibi) and buffalo (karau metan or karau Timor). At one time people ate grass, goats and buffalo ate corn. Yet this made no sense to the first people as buffalo and goats had big strong stomachs and there was little corn. People meanwhile had delicate small stomachs and there was so much grass. A meeting between the people and the animals was called and the problem was discussed. The people suggested that if they swapped food sources each could be better satisfied and in addition the rampant growth of grass could be controlled by the healthy appetites of the animals. The animals sounded their approval and the exchange was completed. 


[1] In prayers asking for rain in the kingdoms of Wilaen and Dafala (wife-takers of Lookeu) the name of Bau Nahak is mentioned many times as the king of the wind—anin (wind) Bau Nahak that brings rain (Vroklage 1952a 56, 89, 93).
Lisa Palmer 01-Jun-2015 01-Jun-2015
Lisa Palmer 27-Mar-2012 27-Mar-2012
Tara Bandu
Locally enacted customary practices of ritualised prohibitions, glossed as tara bandu in the national language of Tetum, are known differently in each local language. In Makasae the term is lubu badu[i] and similarly in Waima'a as luhbu badu (literally 'the prohibition pole'). While the practice is often referred to as 'seasonal or periodic resource harvesting restrictions', it can also be more broadly interpreted as a practice which regulates a range of place-based social and environmental relationships. Elevated as a tool for forest protection by the Portuguese at the turn of the twentieth century, over several decades the practice of tara bandu became the favoured 'indigenist ideology' supported by the state (McWilliam et al 2014). This officially favoured status afforded to it as an indigenous 'environmental protection practice' has to some extent been reinvigorated in the independence era. Alongside a significant amount of community and non-governmental organization level embrace of the process (McWilliam et al 2014), tara bandu has developed a profile as a 'traditional' mechanism which is garnering significant attention and traction in the development of formal resource management laws, many of which are been drafted by 'expert' foreign advisors. In 2013 the Secretariat of State of the Environment was also supporting such rituals through small allocations of funding and in some cases the attendance of senior government members. Tara bandu it seems is increasingly valued by the state as a local mechanism 'to conserve and promote the environment and the preservation and sustainable use of natural resources'.

What is understood today as the bandu process is usually conducted at the sub-village or village level at locally specified intervals (ranging from months to years). While the ceremony is announced and co-ordinated by the local political leader (usually the village head), the law making power emanates from the ancestral and ritual power of the sacred house or houses of one or more of the area's autochthonous or origin groups (in this case connected to a spring). Ceremonies are public events which announce the pre-agreed suite of prohibitions to the community and others present to witness the ceremony from outside. In the period preceding the event, outside guests will be formally invited and these may include political and ritual leaders from neighboring communities, members of the clergy, government, police and civil society. The ceremony itself will be a multi-day event involving much preparation for the law making practices, specifically ritual speech, celebratory ritual dancing, drumming and singing, betel nut exchange, animal sacrifice (which animals and how many depend on the traditions and capacity of the village and the subject of the bandu itself), divinatory techniques including an augury based on these animal's internal organs and communal feasting. Prior to the feasting, the relevant ritual elders must also come together to share in the consumption of specially prepared foods, which are also symbolically shared with the relevant ancestral spirits of the 'houses', lands and waters. In most areas, following the ceremony large ritual 'mother' posts and smaller 'child' posts will be placed around the locale and hung (tara) with relevant symbols (usually skulls of the sacrificed animals, forest foliage and crop items) of the prohibitions (bandu) now in place. 


[i] Also known as lubu etena (see da Costa et al 2006: 94).
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The custodian of the Tais
Once long ago when people had only goat skin and tree bark to wear as clothes there was a hunter who would go to the forest each day to hunt birds with his bamboo hunting pipe. One day when he was returning home he became lost. In the distance he saw a big snake which looked like a python but as he got closer to the snake it turned into a beautiful woman wearing exquisitely coloured cloth and weaving tais (woven cloth). She called out to the hunter 'do you want to take me as your wife?' The hunter replied, 'I already have a home with a wife and children'. However, he did like this beautiful woman. The woman liked him too and asked again, 'do you want to take me as your wife?' The man replied again 'No, I already have a wife and children', and with that he continued on his way.

The next day the hunter went to the forest again and once more when he was returning home he saw the snake which again became a woman weaving tais. The woman asked again, 'do you want to take me as your wife? Again he replied 'No, I already have a wife and children' and went on his way. 

The same thing happened to the hunter for seven days. Each day he saw the 'snakewoman' and each day she asked the same question. On the seventh day the woman followed the hunter out of the forest. He stopped and turned around to her when they reached the boundary between the forest and the fields. He said to the snakewoman, 'if you cross this boundary and come with me into the fields, do you realize you can never return and never again can you become a snake'. The snakewoman listened carefully and accepted the bargain. She crossed the boundary from the forest to the fields and went with the hunter to become his wife. From that day, she never became a snake again, rather she spent her days weaving tais and teaching the other women how to do likewise. The weaving patterns they followed were the same as those of a python's skin.

(A 'plain tale' from Boleha, retold by Louisa Freitas)
Lisa Palmer 01-Jun-2015 25-Jun-2015
Wai Lewa
Mythical ancestor and founder of Baucua (formerly known as Wai Lewa)
System Administrator 12-Dec-2011
Wai Lili Wai Wa Wai Husu Wai Lewa
The name of Wailili Wai Wa Wai Husu Wai Lewa binds together ritual centres of Baucau and Wailili in a fertility-giver and fertility-taker relationship. The catalyst for this relationship was the accidental fall of a son of Wailili (from the house of Loi Leki) into a cave containing water. Following this he travelled through the underground waters emerging at Wai Lia spring. In this account of Wailili Wai Wa Wai Husu Wai Lewa the connections forged by this event extended into networks much denser than simply the Ledatame Ikun sacred house in Darasula (see Story of Wai Lia and Wai Lia Bere). Ledatame is in fact a branch house of Loi Leki and this earlier story relates to a time when the origin house of Loi Leki was still at the peak of its ritual and political power in the village of Wailili. 

 In this story, after the marriage of a son of Wailili to a daughter of Bahu, other daughters of Bahu also began marrying into the houses of Wailili. The two spring complexes and ritual centres known respectively as Wai Lili-Wai Wa and Wai Husu-Wai Lewa became focal points for collective post-harvest rice rituals with each centre expected to actively participate in the rituals of the other. Overtime as these relations entrenched themselves, the two ritual centres held a ceremony in which they exchanged the respective ancestral names of their spring complexes. This exchange gave each spring community the right to invoke each other's ancestral names to harness their power and protective blessing in community rituals. This relationship then transformed into a shared approach to the regional ritual regulation of land and resources and the two centres began gathering at each other's spring complexes for major seven yearly ceremonies. At these ceremonies it was the Baucau villages' responsibility as fertility-givers to contribute rice and pigs. Buffalo and goats were expected as the contribution from the fertility-takers of Wailili. The purpose of these ceremonies was to cement the ties between the centres, maintain peaceful relations, and respect each other's boundaries, fields, produce and livestock. Today this type of ritual relationship is glossed as tara bandu. 


Yet it was not long after their ancestor had travelled through the water to Wai Lia, that a now unknown (or undisclosed) dispute divided the house of Loi Leki, a division that continues to this day. While subsequently the political power of the various houses of Loi Leki became subservient to the dominion of Luca, in later periods these houses divided again between northern and southern zones known as Fatumaka Leten and Fatumaka Kraik (this was also to become the key colonial administrative division of the former Wailili kingdom in the nineteenth century). By this period, the houses of Wailili had also become places for the in-migration of Makasae speaking houses from the Matebian foothills. Bringing with them 'knowledge of fire' and stores of gold, from these early beginnings the Makasae language spread throughout the region of Fatumaka. By the twentieth century as Portuguese colonial control increased and the Catholic Church installed a grotto by the spring of Wai Lakulo, Wailili had diminished as a centre of ritual power. By the end of the World War Two Japanese occupation, the ritual relationship between the rice growing villages of Baucau and Wailili was in disrepair. 

Yet throughout this time the number of branch houses derivative of Loi Leki had grown and they had spread throughout the region to establish sacred houses elsewhere, including on the savanna of the Baucau plateau. Sometime during this migration from the spring groves of Wailili to the drylands of the plateau, the most recent version of the connection between Wai Husu-Wai Lewa and Wai Lili-Wai Wa emerged: this time configured through the connection between Wai Lia and Wai Lia Bere,
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Wai Riu ho Wai Lia (Mundo Perdido)
Raina'in Wai Nete Watu Baha (Mundu Perdido) naran Wai Riu uluk han matak.
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We Hali ho Liquica
Extract from Dos Santos, E. (1967) Kanoik: Mitos e Lendas de Timor, Lisboa: Ultramar.
Lisa Palmer 10-Jun-2015 10-Jun-2015
Wono Loi, Tai Loi ho Leki Loi
The Legend of the Origin of Baucau[1]
There is a legend , as far as toponimica (toponym = a name of a place) is concerned, about the name of Baucau that had entered the popular imagination of the people of Baucau. Once upon a time there was an old Timorese man. He was already widower and advanced in age. He had three sons. The eldest son was called Uono Loi, the second Tai Loi, and the youngest Lequi Loi. The eldest was indeed a passionate hunter. Every night he left home and went out with his two brothers and dogs to hunt civets(laku in Tetun) or other animals whose meat was very much appreciated by the father.One lucky night the youngest son was ill or tired from work. He laid down on bed made from bamboo (in Tetun called hadak) and felt asleep.The following day , after eating tasty food, the father walked to the site of Cai Huno (a place where people drink arrack---local alcohol taken from the palm tree) which wassome 300 metres away fromthe place where the town of Baucau was built and expanded. 

There according to the legend, he met with the offspring and waited for them to have lunch together. Early in the morning the oldest brother Lequi Loi went to a palm tree to take tua from that palm tree. He claimed the tree like a monkey does, holding the trunk and putting his feet on the trunk until he reached the peak of the tree and sapped tua out of the branch where there fruits are. The way he claimed and took tua is like the way the monkey does.....

The old man ate and talked with the other two sons, and ate beetle nut with them. He complained that there was not even a piece of meat for him to bite. 

"And now, what should we do?", the father said. 

"Well, I have got a pig", replied Uono Loi, "but unfortunately this pig is still small and skinny and I feel sad if we have to kill the pig today....." 

Tai Loi, on his part, acted hesitatingly and beat around the bush, said to his father with a heavy heart that he had got a goat, and he quickly went to get the goat which was still eating grass and was being tied on a tree with a long cord on its neck---a long cord that made it move around to eat grass.

Andnothing happened after this.The old man was alreadyat easy with himself. He was full of appetite and of crazy ideas, when Lequi Loi came down from the palm tree and intervened: 

"Hey dad, the best thing for us to do is to save the barley and the goat. I have here a dog which is now unsteady, and which is now no longer good for hunting. Therefore, we just eat the dog!"

And without further ado, they armed ourselveswith small branches of wood thathave fallen down from trees,andhit the dog accurately with the branches of wood on the head. The dog was dead. Having ripping off its skin, they cut the meat of dog to pieces, prepared and roasted the meat on bonfire. Indeed, they had a delicious lunch---eating dog meat and drinking tua, and washing their lips with tua so to speak.... 

Finally, the old and venerable person went to his sons telling them with authority: 

"From now on, you , Uono Loi, will be become one with the suckling pig, and you will be called Ua Bubo (which means the bum of the pig).... And you, Tai Lequi, your name will be changed to Cai-Uada (which means being indifferent), and you, Lequi Loi, the cadet, will be newly named Tiri-Lolo which means an honest, resolute person." Ever since Tiri-Lolo became a famous name.

Shortly after that the father died. Having had survived their father, the three sons dispersed. Each one of them built his own house in different places. The eldest son established himself in the proximity of the east and formed a family there, and gave the origin of the village of Baucau. The second one established himself in the land of the most eastern part which is today become the village of Cai-Bada. And the youngest son set himself on the rocks raising up at the southeast of Baucau and therefore he became the head of the village of Tiri Lolo. 

The designation of Ua-Bubo was originated from a dialect which had already disappeared from the memory and had transformed itself into Uau-C'au through the Uai-maa language, the language spoken by the habitants of the zone. Uau-C'au, the name from which the name Baucau was derived, depicted a picturesque place when the white men penetrated the place and ventured into the hillside, roughly nearly three hundred years ago (as of 1933).

[1] Armando Pinto Correa, Gentio de Timor, Lisboa, 1935, pp. 126-8. 
(translated by Balthasar Kehi and Salustiano Freitas)
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