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Armindo da Silva

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Bee na'in
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Label / Notes Owner Date Modified
bee matan
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