Danerek, H. Stefan
Mama Lena Lue (Lue Pasone)
et al (Nara village)
Danerek, H. Stefan
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Genre: Healing/conflict resolution. From the article submitted to Journal Folklore: Although Tata liba is essentially a ritual of reconciliation, it can also be done preventively, as indicated by two of the previous recordings (see also SD1-302 – SD1-304); there had not been any specific quarrel, but we all know that human beings can be annoying to one another in daily life. On a five-day visit to the island in early April 2019 the author requested to have Tata liba performed. This was after I had submitted this article, and I was not there to research Tata liba. It had been a long time since my last visit, about 1,5 years, and I had been severely ill from cellulitis (the medical diagnosis) and mistreatment, which resulted in huge wounds on my leg that took a long time to heal, and the scars kept annoying me, not yet fully cured. Some locals had even thought that I was already lost or dead, add to this the WHO global corona pandemic, which was keeping us all in a limbo, and that it is unsure when we will meet again. In early 2020 local friends had asked a ‘wise man’ (Ind. orang pintar, or dukun) for divination, based on a photo of my wounds. The man saw that I had done something wrong according to the custom of one of the Palu’e domains (unspecified), which seemed unplausible to me, who think I know the medical reasons. I wanted to make good with the environment and my local hosts and friends, and the ceremony can be performed preventively for the maintenance of good relations anyhow. We had never quarrelled about anything, but there had been times I felt the host family were a bit annoying, and the reverse, but that’s all. The location, the house of my former hosts Wongga and Lute, was chosen because I had stayed there during my first field trips, my local ‘origin house’ so to speak. The first morning of my visit I went to Mama Lena Lue, the wife of the deceased lakimosa Paso (1927-2005), who hereditarily had been second in charge and wielded considerable authority, until this day. Lue is one of the persons who performs this ritual in the Kéli domain, and I was recommended to go to her, if not the head lakimosa, Ngaji, or Sosu du’a, but the latter’s authority does not reach the domain’s ceremonial centre. I could also have chosen to have the mentioned Ka toi dhubu ceremony performed, and through Lue I would reach the ceremonial centre too, as she has the authority to make a post-ceremony offering there. In addition, Wongga, the former host and father of the house, and his younger brother Pitu, were suffering from arthritis (actually re-occurring) at the time and had been staying in bed for over two weeks. They were planning to request the Ka toi dhubu ceremony because the medicines and herbs they had consumed had not yet made them recover. Another reason for requesting Ka toi dhubu was that a couple of weeks earlier, before the onset of debilitating pain, they had done some renovation in the house, and moved the House’s kuku lolo, a box containing bundles of cut hairs and nails from the deceased of their family. The family had neglected to ask permission, by way of a simple cooling ritual, whether sacrificing a chicken (blood) or uttering some Pa’e and offering an egg and ceremonial rice, and they saw this error as a possible reason for their current state of health. Three days after the Tata liba ceremony they requested to have Ka toi dhubu performed by same Mama Lue. She offered egg and rice grains at the ceremonial centre, and a young, yellow chicken was set free there, while at the house a young pig was slaughtered, grilled, and consumed by the family and some neighbours-relatives. Tata liba was performed in the late afternoon 8 April 2021 like the previously mentioned ceremonies, same ritual materials and similar Pa’e-Bhulu wa’o, equivalent metaphors, and a little tailored content, noticeable with the mentioning of my local name (Cawa). The ceremony was recorded on my handphone by Flory, Wongga Lute’s youngest son, (SD1-320). Sitting on the bamboo facing the east were Pitu Sopune (Flory’s elder brother), Mama Lute, Lebi (Wongga and uncle Pitu’s younger sister), the aunties-neighbours Meli, Punga, and Nona. Wongga and uncle Pitu were symbolically present on my lap in the form of two shirts. A few other neighbours and children observed the ritual, commenting and joking. When a rooster crows (manu koko) during the ceremony it is a good sign, that the ancestors receive the request/ceremony, and the rooster crowed several times. Tata liba is often followed up with an immediate offering of egg(s) and ceremonial rice, and a little money, on the ancestor stone (rate) located outside of the house. But here, Lue spoke and offered to the ancestors inside the house, by the kuku lolo, instead, just prior to the ceremony. After the ceremony I accompanied Lue to her house in the adjacent village where she spoke Pa’e and offered eggs and ceremonial rice by the lakimosa family’s kuku lolo and inherited ceremonial artefacts, which is equivalent to an offering at the ceremonial centre. As for the results, I had a happy, smooth stay and managed to do what I wished to do, and left the island with a lasting good feeling, but it did not noticeably speed up the healing process of my scarred leg. Also, while I cannot say that my local relations were improved, because they were never in a poor state, that good feeling surely had something to do with the mutual support and display of care through the participation in the two health-related ceremonies and spending time together.
Sara Lu'a
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Palu'e, Flores, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia
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