Selasa, 26 Agustus 2008

Man Traditional clothing

Babarenese man wearing loin clothes which are abundanly decorated with ikat figures. This pic was taken in 1913.

Woman traditional clothing

The pic above are woman of Babar archipelago wearing adat (traditional) clothing. It was taken in 1913.

Rabu, 20 Agustus 2008

Maluku tenggara: the forgotten island

Maluku Tenggara, the southeast moluccas, is the name of chain of island in the east of indonesia which stretch over a distance of almost a thousand kilometers between timor and New Guinea. The island lie between the easterly longitude of 125o45’ and the southerly latitude of 5o and 8o30’ and have total land surface area of 25,000 square kilometers. Administratively the region is part of province of maluku.

Maluku tenggara is sparsely pupolated, isolated area and it lies on periphery of the Indonesian archipelago. Large part of the region are very difficult to reach. Only the southern islands have airline link with the outside world.

Later in the century, collectors came across other cultural manifestations, like woodcarving, were evidence of unique artistic appreciation. This particulary concerned the product of sophisticated goldsmith and the rich weaving trsdition of Maluku Tenggara which, in addition the wooden statues, became highly desired collectors’ item. Even sacred heirlooms which, thanks to their ancestral powers, protected the owners from calamity and which traditionally only left the house in an exchange of gifts between families, found new owners. Though the export of such pieces is now forbidden, proverty still forces families to sell them.
Promenty present in the most of the villages of eastern Maluku Tenggara were large statues of the village guardian and the village founders, whose aid was essential for the survival of the community. The former villages of Tanimbar have been compared to eagles’ nests. On elevated locations on the steepest rock and surrounded by thick walls of stacket coral rock there were safe havens in turbulent times of war. Wooden and stone stairways sometimes decorated with animal figure that were also carved in family shrines or boat, provided entrance to the gates, in which doors were hung during wars. The post and the wings of the gate were also decorated with carving.

The photograph above is statue of village guardian of Olilit (Tanimbar) with his wife. Male statue at the right, named Sumaka, female statue at the left named Bora.

Kamis, 31 Juli 2008

Tell me about Moluccas!

Moluccas or Maluku (Indonesian language) is a cluster of about one thousand islands totaling for about 74,530 square kilometers, forming part of the Melanesian Archipelago in eastern Indonesia near New Guinea. The region is divided into two provinces, Maluku with its capital in Ambon, and North Maluku with its capital in Ternate. The islands of North Maluku Province are: Ternate (main island), Bacan, Halmahera (the largest), Morotai, Obi, Sula, and Tidore. The islands of Maluku Province are: Ambon (main island), Aru, Babar, Banda, Buru, Kai, Kisar, Leti, Seram, Tanimbar, and Wetar. Its approximately 1000 islands support a population of less than 1.7 million people. The main means transportation is air and sea, which link the islands together.

Most of the islands are mountainous, some with active volcanoes, and enjoy a wet climate. The vegetation of the small and narrow islands, encompassed by the sea, is very luxuriant; including rainforests, sago, rice, and the famous spices--nutmeg, cloves and mace, among others.

Map of Moluccas

Map of North Moluccas

Why it called The Spice Islands?

This islands are rich with many kinds of plant, and the most famous are clove (cengkeh) and nutmeg (pala). Europeans searched many years before finally finding the Spice Islands in the late l5th century. Before, their aromatic treasure, which was worth its weight in gold in l5th and 16th century Europe, was only obtainable through trade with Arabian. Today, the cengkeh (clove), which was originally endemic to the North Moluccas, has achieved new significance due to the popularity of kretek cigarettes, as well as to its use in pharmaceutics.

Kretek cigarettes is very recognizable because of its special, strong smell. Clove trees require very little care - keeping the area around the tree free of weeds promotes growth and simplifies the bi-annual process of gathering the harvest of fallen buds. Cloves, which are harvested late, are marketed as lower-quality, less-aromatic pulong. It takes eight to ten years before a clove sapling blossoms for the first time. A mature tree yields approximately five to six kilograms of buds/11-13 lbs. On Ambon and Ternate, model boats, houses and other constructions are built entirely out of cloves; this craft dates back to the last century. The tourist with a toothache will be glad to know that sucking on a few whole cloves brings relief. Dentists, too, are aware of the pain-killing properties of clove oil.

The nutmeg (pala) tree is also very easy to grow. Five years after being planted, the young tree bears fruit for the first time, but not until twenty years later does it reach its normal level of production. Then, it will continue bearing fruit for up to eighty years. The pala nuts, whose green peach-like shells are also used, can be harvested all year round. It is the pit of this fruit that is the actual nutmeg; its fibrous covering is mace. The white color of whole nutmeg comes from a calcium solution that was first used during colonial times to render them unfit for use as seed. Only later was it discovered that this calcium layer did not impede germination, but rather, that it kept the nutmeg fresher longer. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the price of nutmeg was much higher in England than it was on the European continent. Ladies wore them as fragrance in gold or silver lockets around their necks; gentlemen spiced their grogs with nutmeg which they carried around with them in a small box complete with a grater.