1Indonesia has been afflicted by many forms of conflict and violence over the past several years. Conflicts in West Papua, the Moluccas, East Timor, West Kalimantan, the Jakarta riots attendant on the fall of Suharto, and the Bali bombing have attracted international attention. Many other incidents have received only local coverage. An anthropological literature on such conflict is beginning to emerge. What is plain in this literature is that, as might be expected, not all conflicts are the same. In an introduction to a recent special issue on conflict in Indonesia, Bubandt and Molnar (2004: ii) have called for “studies that are ethnographically thick and theoretically sophisticated enough to capture the many levels and complicated processes involved in the production of violent conflict.” They have argued that “studying conflict and violence ought to be no different from studying cultural and political processes in ‘ordinary’ situations.”
2I have published recently several articles dealing with aspects of conflict in eastern Indonesia. In 1950-51, there was a local communist uprising in Witihama, Adonara, with tragic results and, in 1965, several people from the region were caught up in the aftermath of the attempted coup of 1965 in Jakarta, which the army blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party and which eventuated in the fall of Sukarno and the rise of Suharto (Barnes 2003). Elsewhere I dealt with a colonial war of consolidation on Adonara in 1904 (Barnes 2005a) and with a violent incident in 1934 relating to an ancient, mythologically grounded, division within the local linguistic area (Barnes 2005c). In this article, I want to look at another, and at present more peaceful, form of conflict in Witihama. This one is not related to the immediate national and local historical circumstances that explain the other incidents, but is about a permanent and culturally grounded disagreement and agreement to disagree. As Aoki (2004: 77) has observed, despite the many bloody incidents in Indonesia, most people continue to lead their lives peacefully.
3Indonesia is an island nation whose population necessarily must have come from outside the region (Bellwood 1997). Nevertheless, many Indonesians maintain the tradition that their ancestors originated on the island where they live at present. Others, by contrast, have explicit traditions that their ancestors traveled to their current home from elsewhere. Both patterns play prominent roles in the local politics of Witihama, a sub-district of northeast Adonara in eastern Indonesia. Such population movements did not automatically lead to harmonious relationships between established populations and newcomers. In particular, they often resulted in long-lasting disputes about relative status. In this article, I wish to present examples of such disagreements expressed through myths and legendary histories of eastern Adonara.
4Malinowski observed that, in Trobriand myths of origin, “the very foundation of such mythology is flagrantly violated.”
This violation always takes place when the local claims of an autochthonous clan, i.e., a clan which has emerged on the spot, are overridden by an immigrant clan. Then a conflict of principles is created, for obviously the principle that land and authority belong to those who are literally born out of it does not leave room for any newcomers. On the other hand, members of a subclan of high rank who choose to settle down in a new locality cannot very well be resisted by the autochthons […]. The result is that there come into existence a special class of mythological stories which justify and account for the anomalous state of affairs. (Malinowski 1926: 44-45.)
5Concerning Kachin myths, Leach commented that they may be recounted in order “to justify a quarrel” and that myth “is a language of argument” (Leach 1964: 265, 278). I have found both of these points confirmed elsewhere (Barnes 1996: 55-61), and indeed I think that it is characteristic, at least, of Austronesian language cultures. Although what I wish to demonstrate is not original, I think it sufficiently important to justify being done again.
- 1 Smith and Watson (1979: 13) suggest that it becomes possible to distinguish, by the end of the firs (...)
6In eastern Indonesia, the distinction between coastal peoples and peoples of the interior is strongly marked in popular imagination.1 In his early survey of the peoples of the Solor and Alor archipelagos, Van Lynden (1851: 321) distinguished easily between the economic activities of the shore dwellers and those of the mountain residents. According to the Koloniaal Verslag for 1875, in the Solor and Alor islands the mountain peoples claimed to be the original inhabitants, while the coastal peoples were of different origin and in some places spoke different languages (Koloniaal Verslag 1875: 27). The Catholic missionary Aernsbergen (1909: 262) wrote that the opposition between coastal people (orang pantai) and mountain people (orang gunung) was so deeply rooted that when a new missionary arrived, people wanted to know whether he was from the coast or from the mountains. Thus, someone from flat North Brabant counted as a mountain dweller, although hitherto he may have seen nothing higher than a mole hill. An inherited enmity between the mountain peoples and the coastal peoples was accompanied by difference in language and religion. The coastal peoples were Christian and civilized, while the mountain people were heathens, savage, and stupid. The relative association with civilization or its absence is a cliché that today retains currency locally. Ernst Vatter, who conducted research in the region in 1928 and 1929, named his book Ata Kiwan: Unbekannte Bergvölker im Tropischen Holland. Like Malay orang gunung, the Lamaholot phrase ata kiwan translates as “mountain peoples” (Vatter 1932: 30). In fact, Lamaholot kiwã means either “mountain region” or “the interior” (Pampus 1999: 205).
- 2 The generalized association of coastal populations with outside influence and people of the interio (...)
7This opposition between peoples of the shore and those of the interior not only is a very prominent collective representation, today as well as in the past, but it also provides a very good, indeed an essential, starting point for understanding the social geography of the islands. It fits closely the present circumstances in East Flores, Solor, Lembata, Pantar, and Alor (see Fig. 1). On Adonara, however, things are not quite so simple.2 There are many coastal communities on Adonara engaging in fishing, trade, and small scale manufacturing, among them three of the Muslim former principalities that made up the alliance of the “five shores” or watan léma (Barnes 2001: 275-276), namely the villages of Adonara, Terong, and Lamahala (see Fig. 2). The various clans in these communities almost exclusively represent themselves as deriving from outside. The majority of people living in the interior, however, also claim to have come from outside. Guru Thomas Silimado Lamablawa, a retired school teacher, be it noted, once commented to me that the ancestors of these groups may once have been seafarers who were driven to agricultural occupations when the Dutch imposed their monopoly on inter-island trade.
8As with other eastern Indonesian peoples, one of the principal cultural considerations on Adonara, therefore, is the question of ancestral origins (see Fox 1996a: 5-9, 1996b). Often, those groups that claim an outside origin establish their history by reference to a series of toponyms where their ancestors formerly lived during their journeys before reaching the island, or during their moves on the island itself, a pattern for which Fox (1997: 91) has coined the phrase topogeny. These stories often buttress claims to precedence, and indeed may be used in defense of contested status. Political authority typically lies in the hands of groups of outside origin, whereas mystical authority is claimed by those who deem themselves truly autochthonous. A commonplace pattern is found in legends in which a group, characteristically refugees, arrives at some place along the coast, is invited to come ashore, and either is offered political power or claims that its members were used to exercising power in their homeland and demand it there as a condition of settling.
9For discussing contesting views of this kind, Fox (1994: 95-97) has selected the term precedence, which he contrasts to hierarchy as conceived by Dumont. Dumont defines his conception of hierarchy as “the principle by which the elements of the whole are ranked in relation to the whole.” It is a relation between the encompassed and the contrary. Within this whole, levels are brought about by distinctions or oppositions and they may be defined by reversals. For Indian castes, there is a single model defined by the valued opposition of purity and impurity (Dumont 1980: 80, 239-240, 241; Barnes 1985: 9-10). For Fox, precedence may be expressed by a variety of oppositions, and there is no single model, at least in Austronesian societies. “Within the same society, there may be different forms of precedence in different contexts, based on different categories, or possibly even on a differential valuation of different systems of categories” (Fox 1994: 99).
10Rarely is precedence argued for in terms of a single opposition; nor is it necessarily applied systematically. Precedence is usually contended. It is multi-valued, since it may rely on a variety of oppositions to define it. It can also involve the reversal of underlying oppositions. As a result, precedence can be used to create hierarchies, to dispute them, or simply to undermine their creation (Fox 1994: 106).
Fig. 1: East Flores and the Solor Islands
©Robert H. Barnes
Fig. 2: Adonara
©Robert H. Barnes
11Adonara is situated in East Flores Regency in the Province of Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia (see Fig. 2), the poorest province in Indonesia. In 1999, Adonara had a population of 87,061 out of a total of 192,296 for the regency as a whole (Badan Pusat Statistik 2000a: 26). The per capita income of East Adonara in 1999 is reported to have been ca. $105 and the gross domestic product for that district ca. $6,450 (Badan Pusat Statistik 2000b: 25, 120).
12Eastern Adonara is reasonably homogenous from the point of view of language and culture. There are small settlements of Bajau Laut on the coast at Sagu, Meko, and Wai Wuring. They speak Butonese, but they also speak the Lamaholot language of the majority population. There are important class distinctions (largely suppressed in public expression, but still present). All clans are patrilineal. The clans, of course, are interlinked by marriage. The population is also divided by religion. About two thirds of the population of east Adonara are Catholics, the remaining third Muslims. Witihama itself contains 9,236 Catholics and 3,400 Muslims. The Catholics and Muslims are related, and the large clans contain both Catholics and Muslims. Catholics and Muslims inter-marry. The principal livelihood in the area is drawn from agriculture, producing both subsistence and cash crops. There are, however, some wage-paying occupations for school teachers and medical staff. A very important contribution to the economy derives from those who have migrated to other parts of Indonesia and to Malaysia to seek wage labor (Barnes 2004a).
13The religious division does not closely coincide with any of the other divisions within the community. In fact, the two religions provide each other with a degree of mutual support and solidarity, both because of close family and marriage ties and because they want to avoid the kinds of sectarian strife that have marred conditions elsewhere in Indonesia (Barnes 2004b: 45, 2004c: 42). Islam has been present to some extent since before the sixteenth century, and Catholicism entered early in that century. However, conversions to these religions in any numbers in Witihama only began in the early twentieth century. Mass conversions to one or the other of the religions was a consequence of the pressures that the Indonesian government put on the population following the attempted coup by disgruntled army officers sympathetic to the Indonesian Communist Party on September 30, 1965, and the subsequent government-condoned massacre of hundreds of thousands of alleged communists. A not insubstantial number of such persons (33) was taken from Witihama and executed, adding to the rumored 700 murdered by the army in all of the East Flores regency in 1966 (Barnes 2003: 21-23).
14During fourteen months in 2000 and 2001, I conducted field research in the sub-district of Witihama in eastern Adonara. My intention was to investigate regional and inter-regional economic and political ties, both in the present and in the past. I had conducted intensive research in two previous nearby locations about which I had published books (Barnes 1974, 1996), both on the island of Lembata, just to the east of Adonara. The first study was in Leuwayang, Kédang, about 32 miles from Witihama as the crow flies. The second was in Lamalera, some 21 miles away by direct line. Despite this closeness, travel between these locations by boat and road requires many hours or even days.
15I picked Witihama for two reasons. Having done two village studies, I wanted to take a more regional view. With a population of 12,000 and 13 official villages (desa), Witihama seemed a promising location. Perhaps more important was that I was invited to stay with the family of Mentri Titus Lamablawa, head of the polyclinic in Honihama, one of the constituent villages of Witihama. Our two families had known each other for 21 years by the time I arrived, since my first extended field research in Lamalera in 1979, where he was then stationed, and we had kept in touch. He opened doors for me throughout east and even west Adonara, exploiting his extensive contacts that derived from previous postings in the medical service. Largely through his agency, I was able to make considerable progress toward my goals over a wide range of the island.
- 3 I have been told that Harun in east Adonara is the same as Hayon elsewhere. Hayon, as in Lewo Hayon (...)
16While there are many small descent groups on Adonara, there are also quite large named collections of patrilineally unrelated descent groupings, such as Bahi and Lamablawa. One such is Lama Tokan in Witihama and Hinga, which unites lineages of foreign derivation with one line that claims autochthonous origin. Within this confederation is a descent line that became the rulers of the villages of Adonara and Witihama. In Witihama, these rulers now call themselves Goran Tokan, but they are commonly known as Lama Tokan Serang Goran. They originated, according to legend, in the Moluccas, from where they fled after conflict (Barnes 2004b: 34-36, 2004c: 32-35). They traveled in the boat Budi Baeq (i.e., Budi Baik, “Good Character”), according to Haji Muktar Lebu Kelake Kei, the last hereditary head of Witihama, or Harun Baeq, according to Bapa N. Tenueng Sarabiti, the grandson of Raja Arakian Kamba of Adonara.3
17In Bapa Tenueng’s version, there were three brothers on the island of Goran in the Moluccas, in birth order: 1. Lemata Wadan, 2. Bekin Sili Kiti, 3. Sili Singaji. There was a fight in Goran between the middle brother and the other two, who fled. These brothers (and by implication their followers) stopped at several places and finally arrived, according to Haji Muktar (see Fig. 3), at Amakaka, in the Lewotolok district of the island of Lembata. When they arrived there, the people of the clan Radu Pura, who were the lords of the land at Amakaka, were building a temple, for which they were cutting bamboo in the mountain. The bamboo fell with its tips downward, but they did not turn the bamboo around before dragging it. Because the branches snagged, they could not pull the bamboo down the mountain. They therefore killed goats for a feast and danced continuously, as they tried to find the fault that was keeping the bamboo from coming down the mountain.
Fig. 3: Haji Muktar Lebu Kelake Kei with the Author (September 9, 2001)
©Robert H. Barnes
18When the newcomers anchored nearby, they saw that there were many people and asked if they were having a feast. They answered, “We have been doing this for weeks.” “What is your festival?” “We are building a temple, and we have cut bamboo in the mountain, but it does not want to come down. We do not understand why, and we have been holding discussions to try to find out.” “Where did you cut the bamboo?” “On the side of the mountain.” “Oh, if we climb up we will be able to bring it down.” The people from the village told their elders, who called the newcomers to come ashore and asked them to bring down the bamboo. They answered, “We must tell our elders on the boat first.” They did so, but the elders did not want to help. The young people, however, insisted. “They have asked us to help, and we should do it.” The head of the clan Radu Pura told them, “We can give you compensation”. “What is that?” “We will give you power here.” The elders on the boat agreed to this. The youth of each boat went up the mountain and turned the bamboo around, which immediately slid to the bottom of the mountain. They let the youngest brother, Sili Pati Mangun, become the ruler there, while the rest of them went on to Adonara.
19According to Bapa Tenueng, it was the eldest brother, Lamata Wadan, who remained behind in Lewotolok, but another source also mentions Sili Pati Mangun in that connection.
20In the village of Adonara, the story in Lewotolok repeated itself: The clan Lama Taqung, which was lord of the land, was erecting a temple. Its members also cut bamboo in the mountain, but were unable to bring it down. They asked for help, but the elders of the boat did not want to help. Lama Taqung asked over and over again, promising to give the power to them. Eventually, the newcomers agreed and brought the bamboo down. They then assumed power in Adonara.
- 4 Bapa Tenueng told me that their dodol fell into the sea, but dodol is defined as a “cake of glutino (...)
- 5 There are persistent inconsistencies in my notes as to whether it was Lama Taqung or Nepa Lolo that (...)
21In Bapa Tenueng’s version, Sili Singaji went on to Sagu, Adonara, with three more boats. Their provision of sago fell into the sea and became a rock, which is still there. That is why the peninsula is called Tanjung Sagu.4 Sili Singaji went into the mountain with his army and stayed at Ile Lewo Uwun. Ola Laka Nara of the clan Nepa Lolo of Lewo Liang Lolo, the former name of the village of Adonara, was the lord of the land.5 He came to Sagu and saw smoke in the mountain. He climbed the mountain and saw that there were many houses. He invited Sili Singaji to join him in Adonara. Sili Singaji said that he would, but that he was raja and had an army; he would have to be raja in Adonara. Ola Laka Nara agreed.
22Sili Singaji had a son named Guru Bele (i.e., Guru Belèq, “Great Teacher”). He was unable to have sons; so one day, he went to Batawi, i.e., Jakarta. He found a teacher who gave him a bottle of oil that he took back with him. He rubbed this oil on his head and his wife's navel every Friday. The result was that he had seven sons and seven daughters.
- 6 Haji Muktar gave me the following, rather different list of these brothers: 1. Kamba Nuba Ama; 2. B (...)
23The sons were: 1. Jou Tutu Aman; 2. Pelan Peni Aman; 3. Setu Bota Aman; 4. Begu Tutu Aman; 5. Usen Bota Aman; 6. Kamba Nuba Aman; 7. Pala Bota Aman.6 There were also seven daughters, none of whose names Haji Muktar could remember. Bapa Tenueng could only remember the following four: 1. Jeleko Eko Ina; 2. Dua Goran Ina; 3. Sili Goran Ina; 4. Gehak Goran Ina.
24Haji Muktar continued his narrative as follows.
One day, Jou Boli, who was the youngest, told his older brothers, “You are all married, I will look for a wife in the interior.” They agreed and said, “You go and look for a wife, but you must only travel at night. During the day, rest in the forest. If at night you hear many cocks crowing and many gongs, that is a large village. Look for your wife there.” Jou Boli and his supporters traveled through all of West Adonara, but did not find a large village until they arrived between Terong and Lamahala, at Lamabahi, the village of the clan Bahi, which no longer exists, on the south coast of Adonara, where many people were to be found. That night they spent outside the village and heard many cocks crow and many gongs. When the sun came up, they began entering the village, Jou Boli leading the way. When they reached the middle of the village, there was an elder of the clan named Kopon Lusi Mau Molan who was cutting planks in order to make a boat. Jou Boli’s group passed by, when this elder said, “Where are you from?” Jou Boli answered, “From Adonara.” “Stop for a while and chew betel.” He asked Jou Boli, “Where are you going? What are you doing?” Jou Boli answered, “I here, I am looking for a priest [mau molan].”
- 7 The exegesis was provided by Haji Muktar.
25This comment, in fact, meant that he was looking for a wife and involves a play on words with the name of Kopon Lusi Mau Molan.7
- 8 Kopon Lusi Mau Molan and Peni Iheq Karabau were the product of a marriage between a falcon (lusi) a (...)
- 9 Haji Muktar explained that, because his ancestor Jou Boli gave the boat as bridewealth, people of h (...)
While they were sitting, Kopon Lusi Mau Molan called his twin Peni Iheq Karabau to bring betel and give it to “this wife-taker [opu alap] here”, which she did.8 When Jou Boli saw her, he wanted her for his wife. However, he kept quiet. Peni returned to the house, and Jou Boli asked, “Wife-giver [opu], do not be angry, I want to ask a little question. Was that your daughter or your sister?” He answered, “That was my sister.” Jou Boli explained his trip. “I am looking for a wife. If wife-giver does not mind, if she does not yet have a husband, I will take care of her. As for bridewealth, my wife-giver, whether you want elephant tusks, slaves, or gold, I will provide it.” Kopon Lusi Mau Molan replied, “I already have all of the elephant tusks, slaves, and gold that I need. The only thing that I am lacking is a boat. I am cutting planks to make a boat. If you want to give me a boat, you may.” Jou Boli said, “We have many boats; we can give you one. However, first I will return to Adonara and tell my elder brothers.” After reaching that agreement, he went back and forth between villages until they married.9
26This marriage established a relationship between Goran Tokan and Bahi clans, which has been maintained through history after Bahi largely left the south coast of Adonara and moved to eastern Adonara (Barnes 2004b: 36-37, 2004c 34-35).
- 10 This comment refers to an arrangement in which the heads of Witihama wore finery, which others were (...)
27A rival and partly allied group to the Goran Tokan lineage is Lama Tokan Kowa Bala. Members of this lineage claim descent from a brother/sister pair, Kelake Ado Pehan and Kewae Sode Boleng, who appeared first on the top of the Boleng volcano, a claim that is frequently disputed by other lineages. According to a source in a rival line of Lama Tokan, Kelake Ado Pehan was not competent at war. His group lived at Tana Oloq, in the present district of Hinga, which borders Witihama. When Jou Boli arrived, they asked him to take power, but he did not want to. “Who wants to take responsibility in conditions like this?” However Kowa Bala said, “You with your short pants and short-sleeve shirts, you sit up there. We give our power to you without condition.”10 They gave him all their power, and the two groups lived together at Tana Oloq.
- 11 Not, as one might suspect, from witi hama, “the same goat” or “the same as the goat.”
28Jou Boli’s great-grandson, Arakian Belolo, was stabbed to death while leading a war at nearby Lewo Pulo. After that, their power declined at Tana Oloq. His younger brother, Ola Bebe, moved to the present site of Witihama, which was then called Kapek One (“In the Cotton”). They brought their sacred stones (nuba nara) and “planted” them in Witihama. For the ceremony of setting up the nuba nara, they called a priest (ata mua) named Nara Kakan, from Doleng clan, in the south coast village of Lamahala. During the ceremony of placing the nuba nara, they searched for an appropriate spot. Another priest named Baraq Suba pointed out a place and said di wite di hama or, in Witihama dialect, di sini di sama (“here is just as good [as anywhere]”), from which the corrupted form “Witihama” comes.11 Ola Bebe moved the village here, though they had been given power in Tana Oloq. Thus, according to my authoritative source, the Lama Tokan Kowa Bala people have no powers in Witihama and had already given up their power in Tana Oloq. They have no more claim to be lords of the land, and their claims to have originated in Adonara are false. Members of the Goran Tokan group are the rightful lords of the land in Witihama. Furthermore, they claim that Tana Oloq used to belong to them.
29Unsurprisingly, members of Lama Tokan Kowa Bala have very different views about these matters. They are well represented in Hinga and in parts of Witihama. On the day I arrived to begin my field research in September 2000, Witihama was just beginning the process of building a village temple in the central hamlet now called Oringbele, for the first time in over a century. The festival associated with the temple (see Fig. 4) was a very large affair, with thousands in attendance. Members of the village sent substantial donations from as far away as Malaysia. The only villagers who did not take part in some way were members of Lama Tokan Kowa Bala, who took the position that Goran Tokan, whose members were organizing the construction, was trying to usurp their claims to be lords of the land.
Fig. 4: The New Temple in Witihama
©Robert H. Barnes
30Arndt (1940: 149) wrote of Witihama that “[t]here is another clan with the name Lama Tokang: this [one] came from Seram and knew how to arrange things so that they acquired approximately the same rights as the original Lama Tokang; they also adopted their name. They still fight with each other about who actually has higher status.”
- 12 I have this story from Muktar Tokan of the village of Suku Tokan in Hinga. I am sworn to secrecy ab (...)
31Lama Tokan Kowa Bala’s story of origin, as told by Muktar Tokan (see Fig. 5), is as follows.’12
- 13 Muktar Tokan commented on the odd reference to snow at the beginning of the story. He said that the (...)
Formerly, when the world was still whole and there were no mountains, it snowed and when the snow warmed up it melted and became sea water.13 Then a coconut tree emerged from the middle of the sea. The coconut tree gave birth to a woman named Ibu and a man named Bapa Rogo. They gave birth to Tuan Jendela and his two younger siblings Eko, a male, and Mangu, a female. Eko and Mangu recognized that Mangu was a woman, Eko a man; therefore, they concluded that they could live together. They gave birth to Jawa Lepan, a woman, and Keruin, a man. By then, there was already earth. The sea had already become dry. Mountains had emerged. They [Jawa Lepan and Keruin] then traveled and saw that grasshoppers could marry and thought, “Why can we not, too?” They gave birth to Kelake Ado Pehan and Kewae Sode Boleng.
Kelake Ado Pehan and Kewae Sode Boleng gave birth to seven sons and one daughter (the villages that they founded are given in parentheses): 1. Laba Ipe Jara (Lama Helan); 2. Mado Pali Taleq (Dokeng); 3. Beda Gere Nihan (Niha One); 4. Duli Leda Labi (Lewo Duli); 5. Kiaq Lali Tokan (Lewo Beleq); 6. Kiaq Karabau (Woka Belolo); 7. Sue Buku Tara (Ebo Lewo Jawa).
The daughter and youngest child was Sabu Tana Tukan. The brothers hunted for fish at sea and for wild pigs and deer on shore. While they were traveling, they heard a baby crying. They gathered around a stone near Dilar, which broke, giving birth to a child. This stone is associated with Suku Kebelen Wato Waiq, Horowura. They traveled further and came to another baby crying in a bamboo of the type belang, which also split and gave birth. Belang is a hill near Hori Nara and is associated with the clan Belang Lako Nawa. Then they went to sea and heard a child crying. A crab (kuro) gave birth to a child, which gave rise to the clan Kuro Uma (“Crab Hole”), now in Honihama. Keruin and Jawa Lepan gathered the three children and assigned them places.
The seven sons consulted and decided to open a field. At first, they used their hands to pull out the weeds. That night their father, Kelake Ado Pehan, dreamed and was told by God to take stones the next day to make axes with which to work the field.
Fig 5 : Muktar Tokan with Sacred Stones (nuba nara) (July 29, 2001)
©Robert H. Barnes
32At this point, Muktar Tokan brought out a finely worked stone axe head, perhaps an inch and a half or two inches square (see Fig. 6). This axe head is an inheritance within his family.
- 14 The myth of the sacrifice of a maiden leading to the origin of food plants is widespread in the reg (...)
When the field was ready, they asked themselves what they would plant. Their father heard a whisper from heaven telling them to sacrifice the youngest child in the middle of the field, so that her blood ran out, but to use the skin enclosing the fruit of the pinang palm to capture the blood. “Take her blood and sprinkle it all over the field four times around. Then bury her in the middle of the field.” The next day all forms of food grew, including maize, rice, beans, coconuts, tubers, and fruit. Sabu Tana Tukan agreed to being sacrificed so that her brothers would have food to eat.14
Kiaq Lali Tokan’s children were Arakian and Kai Hali. Kai Hali had no children. Among Arakian’s children was Beda Wuri. His sons were Belida Wara, who was a war leader, and Eba Wara and Wuri Wara, who were in charge of maintaining the peace. They guarded the sacred stone called Nuba Belolon. Belolon was the local term for raja before the term “raja” was introduced. Belido Wara’s sons were Kiaq Buraq (who lived at Wuaq Ona, Hinga) and Kiaq Miten (who lived in Witihama, Lama Tokan). Arakian distributed nuba (sacred stones) as far as Witihama. When new clans appeared, they were given nuba, too. Javanese were ordered to guard Lewo Koten Adonara (the village of Adonara). The center is in Hinga. Kiaq Buraq organized war, while Kiaq Miten organized hunting.
Fig 6: Muktar Tokan’s Stones Axe Head
©Robert H. Barnes
33Muktar Tokan assured me that this was the base of their story. There are several sources for the rival version of the story of Kelake Ado Pehan. Arndt (1940: 146-149) is one such. Here follows a version that I was given after being sworn to secrecy about the name of my source. Lama Tokan Kowa Bala comes immediately from near Hadakewa at Ata Kowa, on the neighboring island of Lembata.
While they were there, every evening they saw a fire in the mountain of Boleng. They concluded that there must be someone there. They decided to find out why there was a light there every night. They went looking on Boleng and found a primitive person with long hair on its body and a tail. They could not tell whether it was a male or female. They had already brought arak and palm wine, and they invited it to sit with them and drink with them. Once the primitive person was drunk, Kelake Ado Pehan shaved it and cut off its long nails. He saw then that it was not a man, but a woman. When she got up, she saw that she was naked. Kelake Ado Pehan married her and descended to Tana Oloq.
34Stevanus Kopong Keda reports the following version (Lamahoda n.d.).
There was a sailor whose boat grounded on a reef on the east coast of Adonara, which until today is known as Hari Lolong, meaning “On the Coral”. The name of that person was Kelake Ado Pehan, who was descended from the Malays. There was no one around where he grounded. Kelake Ado Pehan, during the day, sought his fortune by collecting edible animals and plants on the reef, tapping palm wine, opening fields, and so on. He already possessed the tools he needed, knives, field knives, dibbles. In addition to that, he brought a pot of arak. One day he saw from Hari Lolong that on the side of Boleng Mountain, which was not far away, there was smoke from a fire. The smoke alerted him to the presence of a human being there. The desire arose in him to go and meet that person. The next day he went there, taking as presents fish and edible sea creatures.
When he arrived in the forest, he saw a fire that was still burning, but he saw no one. He resorted to a stratagem. He put out the fire and retreated far away, where he climbed a large tree, from which he could see the fire. He was unsure whether the builder of the fire was dangerous. In fact, the owner of the fire was looking for food. Returning to the place of its fire, it saw that its fire had been put out and also saw footprints. Angrily, it followed the footprints until it arrived at the base of the tree where Kelake Ado Pehan was hidden. Kelake Ado Pehan, in the tree, shivered to see the person below. Its whole body was covered with long hair. Furthermore it wore no clothing. That person looked up into the tree and saw the frightened Kelake Ado Pehan. It angrily ordered Kelake to come down. Kelake Ado Pehan refused.
- 15 In fact, the sex of these two characters is given away by the first word in each name. Kelake means (...)
Because repeatedly pressed, Kelake said, “I agree to come down, if you will not harm me.” The person said, “Good, come down!” Kelake came down. When he reached the ground, the person asked Kelake, “What is your name? Where do you come from?” Kelake gave his name and place of residence. Then, on his part, Kelake asked, “And you?” That person answered, “I am Kewae Sode Boleng.” But Kelake did not know whether Kewae Sode Boleng was a man or a woman, because its whole body was covered with long hair.15 After becoming angry with Kelake because he had put out the fire, Kewae Sode Boleng started the fire again by scratching her long nails together. From that scratching sparks sprang, which were captured with a piece of fungus. After her anger subsided, Kewae Sode Boleng put out the products of the forest that she had gathered to cook. Kelake saw that they included fruit, leaves, and animals from the land, which are not appealing to eat, such as snakes, mice, and so on. Kelake threw away the snakes and other animals that cannot be eaten. He said: “It is better to eat the sea animals I brought.” He brought out the products that he brought, fish, and so on. After the meal, the two became friends. Then, they went together to Hari Lolong to look for sea products and to get the palm wine tapped by Kelake, and together they returned to the mountain. The two traveled via the location of Honihama, which at that time did not yet exist. Because at the shore there was no [drinking] water, they always took water. One day, while the two were resting near the place where Honihama is now, the bamboo of water that had been leaned against a tree fell and its water was spilled. From that spilled water emerged the river Koli Padak, near the present Honihama.
While they were resting, they saw a pair of grasshoppers that were copulating. With the arak that he had brought, Kelake Ado Pehan made Kewae Sode Boleng drunk and fall asleep. Then Kelake Ado Pehan shaved off all of the hair on her body and had intercourse with her. Next, he covered her with a cloth. They had seven boys [the same as those listed above]” (Lamahoda n.d.: 73-74).
35Arndt’s version of this story is much the same, although somewhat more elaborate. The most important difference is in the names of the seven sons, in which his informant seems to have made several mistakes. The tale is widespread in these islands. It occurs in Kédang, Lembata, for example in the story of Bota Ile (the woman) and Wata Rian (the man) and in the story of the founding ancestor of the line of the rajas of Larantuka, Pati Golo Arakian (Barnes 1974: 40-41, Dietrich 1995: 116-118). Dietrich (1995: 120) gives page citations to several versions from Solor and Adonara recorded by Arndt (1940, 1951). In most cases, these stories indicate that the wild person in the mountain is female, while the person at shore is male, but there are two versions that precisely reverse these relationships (Arndt 1940: 160, Dietrich 1995: 120).
36Dietrich compares several versions of the Pati Golo Arakian story. In its essentials (although some versions deviate from or do not even include this), Pati Golo is a scion of a royal house in south Timor, who after various adventures arrives in what is now Larantuka and marries a woman from a line that originated at the top of the Mandiri mountain. An important concept in this region is that of people who are ilé jadi or “created in the mountain.” Such people are true autochthons. However, in most of the region where the Lamaholot language is spoken, descent is reckoned patrilineally. The line of the rajas of Larantuka is in the awkward position that it descends in the male line from an outsider, however prestigious he may be. Its only claim to being ilé jadi is through Pati Golo’s wife Watowélé. I have identified the rajas of Larantuka as an example of the widespread stranger king motif, about which anthropology has had a lot to say (Barnes, in press). According to Pitt-Rivers (see also Sahlins 1981), strangers represent danger or potential gain and must be met with hostility or hospitality, brought into the community or expelled from it. The stranger is dangerous and sacred because he belongs to an extraordinary world. “If his danger is to be avoided he must either be denied admittance, chased or enticed away like evil spirits or vampires, or, if granted admittance, he must be socialised, that is to say secularised, a process which necessarily involves inversion” (Pitt-Rivers 1977: 101). What is striking about traditional histories of several local state structures prior to the twentieth century is how often they maintain that ruling authority is in the hands of persons whose ancestors came as strangers and successfully became absorbed into the local communities, often by means of just the sort of inversion to which Pitt-Rivers refers. However, Dietrich (1995: 127) says that “[t]he Patigolo story has […] on one side not the least to do with the motive of the ‘stranger king’.” There is a stranger king, he points out, but he is the “Second Raja,” as he is called locally, who descends from a line that fled a disaster to the east and was welcomed into the community by the raja of Larantuka. “The rajas of Larantuka stand via Watowélé as ‘autochthon’ (ilé jadi) to the ‘immigrant’ raja kedua [Second Rajas] (the ‘stranger kings’).”
37This disagreement between Dietrich and myself is essentially an exogenous continuation of a disagreement that is endemic within the Lamaholot speaking region. The rajas of Larantuka have a claim to being autochthonous only through marriage. The line of the Second Rajas of Larantuka has intermarried with the line of the rajas of Larantuka and, of course, with other lines within the town of Larantuka, most of which are themselves outsiders by history. What distinguishes the two lines is legend. The Second Rajas have no myth of the original male ancestor marrying an autochthonous woman, although in fact he may have. Their myth tells of their being invited by the raja of Larantuka to come ashore and perform an essential ceremonial act. They are truly strangers in legend in both the male and female lines. From an outsider’s point of view, this circumstance may be deemed part of the paradox that an ancient and locally powerful lineage may still be self-defined as outsiders. This pattern, however, is commonplace.
38The Larantuka situation is one in which two successive arriving groups have established claims to political power, but the second has only achieved a subordinate status. This pattern is unusual in the area. In eastern Adonara, we have another variation on these interpretations. Members of Lama Tokan Kowa Bala also call themselves Lama Tokan Ilé Lodo Hau, which means “the Lama Tokan clan that descended from the mountain.” They make explicit claims to ilé jadi status through the male line, as descendants of Kelake Ado Pehan. On the basis of their ilé jadi status, they claim to be the source of both mystical and political authority, although they concede that political authority has passed to Seran Goran groups. Goran Tokan and the rajas of Adonara are stranger kings, as are the other Muslim rajas of Terong, Lamahala, Lohayong, Lamakera, and Labala. Most other people in eastern Adonara dispute the claim by Lama Tokan Kowa Bala to have descended from a truly autochthonous male ancestor, and tell instead myths in which Kelake Ado Pehan is identified as an outsider who came from overseas. It is true that he may have brought clothing and other forms of civilization with him, but nevertheless, their view is that Lama Tokan Kowa Bala is no more autochthonous than they are themselves. All they are prepared to concede is that Kowa Bala was already there when the others arrived. This position seems to amount to a concession of precedence of Kowa Bala in time, but not in mystical authority, political authority having subsequently been given away by themselves or usurped from them.
39The question may be asked why such sophistry is so important, especially today when political authority has passed to elected or appointed governmental officers. Perhaps the point is that local politics have not just ceased because republican structures have supplanted previous “feudal” and colonial arrangements. Another point is that, after the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998, there was a considerable freeing of political life, permitting a renewed interest in general in what was thought to be traditional cultural patterns (see, for example, the discussion in Barnes 2005b). Bubandt has coined the phrase “new politics of tradition” to refer to such developments, which were becoming more manifest in the last years of the Suharto regime, and even more so afterwards (Bubandt 2004: 16). It would be an inevitable consequence of such freedom that there would be increased competition about what such tradition was. I am not saying that traditions were completely invented recently, but instead I would argue only that disagreements about traditions for long somewhat muted again became aired, especially given the presence of a willing anthropological listener.
40Dietrich (1995: 121) presents the following table of binary oppositions in the legend of Patigolo’s (or Pati Golo’s) encounter with and marriage of the wild woman Watowélé:
Roasted and Boiled Food
Discrimination of Edible
of Kinds of Game
and Inedible Game
- 16 For an extended discussion, with historical references, of the opposition mountain/coast and, in pa (...)
41We could add to the Patigolo column fishing and, generally speaking, civilization.16 Technical knowledge and skills (not to mention religion) come from outside, while mystical association with God, the ancestors, and land is indigenous.
42Dietrich says that from the marriage of Watowélé and Patigolo comes the “mountain-born clans.” The disagreement in Witihama and Hinga places the emphasis somewhat differently. The mountain-born clan comes from the marriage of Kelake Ado Pehan and the wild woman Kewae Sode Boleng, but there is deep dispute about Kelake Ado Pehan’s origins; and his descendants, unlike the rajas of Larantuka until the 1960s, no longer had or had long lost a claim to being rulers. Kelake Ado Pehan’s place of origin outside of Adonara is not mentioned at all in the myths that represent him as an outsider. No claim is made that his origins were particularly prestigious. Patigolo Arakian, on the other hand, is often represented as a liurai, or prince of the Timorese empire of Waihale Waiwiku, which gives him great prestige indeed. Instead, such prestige as Kelake Ado Pehan may have is found in the Kowa Bala version of the story, in which he and his wife were descended from the first humans and first lived at the top of the Boleng volcano. The story in eastern Adonara that parallels part of the legend of Patigolo, which justifies the ilé jadi status of the rajas of Larantuka, is used in eastern Adonara to deny ilé jadi status to Kowa Bala. As was pointed out to me by a friend, who said that the story of outsider origins for Kelake Ado Pehan was the commonplace version in eastern Adonara: “Since descent is strictly patrilineal here, descendants from their [Kelake Ado Pehan and Kewae Sode Boleng’s] marriage cannot claim ilé jadi status.”
43Dietrich (1995: 121) comments that, in the Lamaholot speaking region, the mountain is the origin of all life and nourishment, while the sea is ambivalent. However, a union of the two is necessary for reproduction. “‘Mountain–Sea’, so it seems, is in Lamaholot an encompassing picture for the human life process.” The wild being on the mountain is not yet a normal human and is not yet capable of reproduction. In order to become a normal person, she needs someone from the direction of the sea. It is the meeting of the mountain and the sea that permits the creation of life and human society.
44This understanding fits the material that Dietrich is analyzing, and there is much in the published ethnography to support it. However, Kowa Bala’s legend presents an alternative view. Dietrich (1995: 126) notes that, in the Lamaholot speaking region, there are two widespread models: a raja from the mountain or a stranger king from overseas. “The ‘origin in the mountain’ (ilé jadi) unites with the land, ritual control over the land, and supernatural power (Watowélé). ‘Sea’ or ‘overseas’ unites with prestige, wealth and ‘culture’ (Patigolo).” The same oppositions obtain in eastern Adonara, but Lama Tokan Kowa Bala claims to have been self-sufficient. It originated entirely by itself and acquired food through the sacrifice of a daughter. People of foreign origin, though more numerous, are adventitious and unnecessary. The Seran Goran groups show signs of trying to encroach on Lama Tokan Kowa Bala’s mystical authority. There is plenty of historical evidence that the Seran Goran population has gradually acquired land and supplanted others by various means, including warfare, and this comment is true for many groups all over Adonara (for a summary of some of the information, see Barnes 1996: 57-58). It is not a great leap from driving out indigenous rivals to claiming ilé jadi status for oneself and simply forgetting previous stories of outside origin. However, these claims and counter-claims are not normally made in public confrontations, but instead are set out in what for the most part are essentially private occasions. There is plenty of scope for persistent disagreement that never reaches a resolution.
45The disagreement between the two versions of Lama Tokan is only one example of many on Adonara. Oral history indicates a past in which there were frequent wars and shifting alliances, with in some cases whole villages being overrun and exterminated. This pattern continued into the latter half of the twentieth century. An important example of such wars is the Hongi Hinga of 1904, as a result of which, among others things, Hinga was defeated and the raja of Larantuka deposed (see Barnes 2005a). Alliances could extend far beyond Adonara. The Muslim rajas of Adonara and Solor maintained political and military ties with Muslim rajas of Pantar and Alor and called upon them for military assistance on occasion (Barnes 2001: 277-278). During the nineteenth century and presumably before then as well, they also called on help by warriors from the Amfoan district of the northwest coast of Timor. These, in local eyes, daunting and savage head hunters were generally effective in these interventions until the Dutch finally prevented their being used in this way.
46Wars also took place within clans, splitting them up. The leader of Goran Tokan made war against an uncle towards the end of the nineteenth century because the uncle’s son committed adultery with the leader’s wife. The head of Witihama won, causing a portion of his own clan and of an allied clan to flee to Hinga, where they eventually joined with Hinga in the war of 1904, while Witihama sided with the raja of Adonara. A similar split occurred in 1950 and 1951, when a man from the present Goran Tokan clan led a communist uprising near Witihama and attempted to kill his close relative and clan mate, the head of Witihama, among other leaders (Barnes 2003). It was only after the mass killings following the attempted coup d’état in Jakarta in September 1965 and the strong intervention of the military that these forms of unrest were largely suppressed.
47In any event, the picture that can be derived from such history of the island as can be recovered is one of near permanent instability, in which alliances sometimes crumbled and enemies sometimes became allies. As a result, clan histories usually indicate considerable geographical movement on the island and outside of it. There is evidence as well of the expulsion of indigenous, possibly autochthonous, peoples in various places, for example, the clan Lama Taqung, which fled the village of Adonara after the raja of Adonara was murdered in 1850. The wholesale annihilation of whole villages is rare, but has occurred. A small war involving two deaths and the burning of houses even took place on the south slope of the Boleng volcano in 2000, but this sort of event, although reminiscent of the past, has been fairly rare in recent decades. Compared with its past, today Adonara is reasonably peaceful and calm, and such rivalry as I witnessed was confined to local politicking. The two Lama Tokan groups seem to have established a stable standoff, without any threat of mutual annihilation, their contest over relative status now being confined to disputes focused on arguments over precedence. Furthermore, this contest is not expressed solely through a variety of symbolic oppositions, but also through active political maneuvering, such as the building of the new village temple.