Whale Hunting Lamalera Larantuka

Whale Hunting Lamalera Larantuka. The fishing village in Lamalera, Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara, has been around for centuries. Along with their tradition of hunting whales May-November every year. This custom is thought to have originated in the 1500s, along with the establishment of the fishing village Lamalera at the southern tip of Lembata. It’s customary for locals to wait for a whale to pass by and catch it, not hunt it down. They just caught sperm whales not any other species in the waters near Lamalera.

The caught whale was distributed to all villagers about 3,000. The flesh is as if it were a village offering to widows, the poor, and orphans, who got a share first. After the needs of the entire village are met, the rest is bartered with basic necessities such as corn and rice with neighboring villages. Or sold for children’s school fees and other necessities.

Lamalera fishermen use a traditional wooden boat with no engine with sails made from woven pandan leaves. They don’t use motorboats, as the propellers will hurt the whales. Ropes for catching whales are knitted from the leaves of Gebang trees and fibers of Waru trunks. To catch the giant marine mammal, the Matros aka whale catchers wear a piece of Leo aka sacred rope. The rope is made of cotton spun and covered with Turi bark before drying. Once worn, the Leo rolls are stored in a special cubicle of the traditional house.

Whaling is inherited from ancient times from their ancestors.

After preparing the equipment, Lamafa or the stabber along with several other fishermen began to board a small boat, down the Lamalera territorial waters. The requirement to be a spearman aka Lamafa is very simple: he must be a good man, have polite behavior, and devout worship. He can hunt in the morning, at night he is forbidden to have sex with his wife. If abstinence is prohibited, villagers believe, it will not be able to catch a single whale.

The people of Lamalera have regarded the whale as a divine gift. Therefore, they are not rash or hunting for commercial. But as necessary, even in a year should not be more than 20 heads. Even so, only old whales are unproductive. They’re not going to attack young whales. Their eyes are already very observant of the signs of whales that can be hunted and become abstinent. Violating hereditary rules, they believe will bring disaster to the village.

After a few minutes of exploring the ocean, the fisherman’s view is directed at a group of whales performing marine acrobatics. Every now and then the marine mammal glides into the air and falls into the seawater. Paledang, a wooden boat sailing woven pandan leaves powered by paddles glided to the whale. The lemafa stands at the end of the ship. When he found the target, he jumped and targeted the whale’s head.

Village Decorated with Whale Bones – Whale Hunting Lamalera 

As a whale-hunting village, whale bones adorn several corners of the village. Even the gates of Lamalera Village are made of whale bones. The whale is indeed a blessing. The caught whale was brought to shore and divided by village elders. Everyone gets a share according to their merits in the hunt. The bones of whales are used as a craft in the form of rings, even the flesh and skin are taken oil for oil lamps.

Initially, whaling in the village was opposed by NGOs engaged in nature conservation, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and Greenpeace. After they saw for themselves, the hunting activities were not haphazard and not for commercial purposes, the noises stopped. The Lamalera tradition is held around May to November, which is the month of whale migration. The marine mammal crossed the Sawu Sea, migrating from the Banda Sea to the Indonesian Ocean.

That’s when the Paledang was launched into the sea, with rowers 6-10 people. While hunting involves three to four Paledang. The whale they are after is just a sperm whale or Koteklema in the local language.

Whale Hunting Lamalera.


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