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Spiderweb Ricefields of Manggarai

Posted by Andy Sakung (andy) on Nov 08 2013
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Komodo Island Trip - If elsewhere concentric circles of ricefields may be thought as having been created by ultra-terriestrial beings, not so in Manggarai in the western part of Flores. Here spiderweb ricefields are very much man-made and have existed for centuries down generations.
The circle that spreads from the center outward is very central to the beliefs of the local people.

The Manggaraians started this tradition of spiderweb land division since they ceased their nomadic life. As a new tribe with a territory named "beo" (viallage),embracing their ancient religion whose sacred beings are named the "mori kraeng", they started a simple government, an assembly of representatives, which, together with their decisions, are called the adat, led by a "tu’a teno".

In the early days, corn and rice were introduced and became their staple food. The more population grew, the more they needed these commodities. This gave rise to a traditional land division,the rulers over tradition - called it "lingko".

The existence of territory became so important that it was integrated into the tradition. When there was a piece of land, there should be an traditions or a "tu’a teno" who governs the territory.

Here, Adat is symbolized by the "Mbaru Gendang". "Mbaru gendang" is the central focus of every traditions activity. A good example of "Mbaru Gendang" can be seen at Compang Ruteng or at the megalithic village of Wae Rebo. Here the central post of the house is set right in the middle of the structure, and is encircled by eight posts that support the "Mbaru Gendang".

The philosophical inter-connection between a lingko and an "Mbaru Gendang" is its central point. In the "Mbaru Gendang", the center is the most sacred. While, in a lingko, its central point is similarly held the most sacred, where all measurements and land division are set to the circumference. Just like in the drum house,  in these rice fields the central point is a small post, which is named "teno", where the sacred souls, the "mori kraeng", reside.

To the people of Manggarai, the "Gendang” its center while emanating outwards are the “lingko” or the spiderweb territories.  Meaning that the "Gendang", -  signifying the leadership of the adat and the community – is inseparable from the communal territory, or the "lingko".

However, a lingko or tanah adat is not owned by the tradition or even a tu’a teno, but it is owned by the entire community. According to them, "ata ngara tana", the land lord of the soul, or the "lingko" are all community members, while the "tu’a teno" is only the person in charge, who is entrusted to judiciously decide on the division of land in accordance with the law of tradition.
The measurement system of "lingko" is called "lodok". The "tu’a teno" has the ability and authority to decide on the "lodok". The size of a lingko depends on the ability of the community members of a "beo" to cultivate the land. As the central point is very essential, through the lodok system, the spider-web rice fields are formed.

To see the manifestation of "lodok", travelers usually visit "Cancar" in " Golo Cara", a village some 12 kilometers from Ruteng, capital of the district of  Manggarai. There are several concentric spider-web rice fields visible from a small hill in Cancar. Although there is presently no apparent tourist facility here, Cancar presents one of the scenic cultural luxuries that still lives on until today.



Last changed: Nov 14 2013 at 11:17 AM

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Reviewed April 18, 2013
I've wanted to go to Komodo for years and I'm so glad we made the trip. Alam organised it all really well, my only criticism is that we were not advised to down size our luggage - luckily we'd made that decision ourselves, and left most of our luggage in Bali. I'm glad we did, as there was very limited space on the boat for luggage! Other than that - the scenery was gorgeous, the komodo dragons impressive, the food on board the boat amazingly good - it was a fabulous trip!


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