Luba, A Traditional Ngada Village


Luba Village (pop: 200 people) was small, quiet and had just a few villagers sitting around. Ricardos referred to them as “Ladanese” ethnicity but even by surfing, spelling “Ladanese” differently, I couldn’t come up with any information. Ngada villages are composed of wooden pile houses with shake roofs that surround a main square. Organization has a lot to do with your clan, and its status in the pecking order. We entered Luba, registered, paid a 10,000 IDR donation and Ricardos got sidetracked by a man making machetes. A long discussion with him until Ricardos placed an order for a machete that wll be hung in his house to ward off evil spirits. I guess Machetes serve more than one function in Flores. Meanwhile, machete maker’s 90-year old mother sat in the shade sorting through her stash of betel nuts in preparation for a fast chew.

The Ngada are Roman Catholic, but still cling to animist beliefs: ancestor worship and sacrifice. Family members are buried next to their houses with an occasional bottle of Arak and other libations placed on the graves.

90-year old Ngada woman in Luba Village, Flores

making machetes in Luba Village, Flores

 

Many of the thatched roofs had unusual decorations on top; spears for protection, effigies, and small house replicas. Each had a meaning and was displayed on roofs of the most important clan members. I remember seeing a witch doctor’s house in West Africa with an effigy on top that, supposedly, could see visitors coming, and warn the witch doctor.

 

effigy on top of one roof in Luba Village, Flores

spears on roof for protection and ward off evil, Luba Village, Flores

 

Houses were decorated with buffalo horns and pig jawbones that showed the family’s prosperity (similar to Toraja-land in Sulawesi). Luba had four male ancestor parasols (ngadhus) in the center square. I’ll refer to them as “totems” for ease. Each belonged to a specific clan and had different rituals associated with them. Before a male totem is built, a baby pig or dog is sacrificed and buried in this spot. The totem is completed and big stones piled around the main post; representing this clan’s generations, male and female descendants. A water buffalo, a symbol of fertility, is then tied between the male ancestor symbol and a wall; its throat cut in a way so blood spatters on the totem; and the ceremony is over. Time to dance, drink Arak and celebrate

buffalo horns and pig jaws, Luba Village - Flores Island

more male ancestor houses along the road to Bajawa, Flores

the more buffalo horns, the wealthier the family in Luba Village, Flores

 

There were also three female ancestor houses (bhagas) opposite the male ancestor houses that resembled small rice granaries. Unlike the male totems, Female ancestor houses are only built when someone has a vision. The fourth bhaga had fallen apart, and until someone in the clan has a vision, it will not be rebuilt. (The embedded video will tell you everything!)

 

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It was only a short walk from Luba downhill to Bena Village.

 

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