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Traditional Whale-Hunter Village


Lamalera village in Lembata regency, East Nusa Tenggara, is known for its whale hunting ritual is located on a beach that faces the Sawu Sea in East Nusa Tenggara province.

Ancient local custom states that upon hearing the call, a lamafa (harpooner) must muster a troop of matros (oarsmen) to quickly set out on the Sawu Sea on their traditional peledang wooden boats.

The tradition of whale-hunting in Lamalera stretches back at least to the 16th century, as evidenced in several old Portuguese records that tell the story of a traditional whaling community on the island of Lomblen, Lembata’s old name.

This practice differs from the rampant commercial whaling in countries such as Norway or Japan, because whaling in Lamalera is about providing for the villagers’ sustenance and it is filled with religious rites and taboos.

Local custom stipulates that the meat of a whale should be equally distributed among the villagers so that no one is left hungry.

Custom dictates that only sperm and pilot whales can be hunted. Hunting blue whales is especially restricted, as it is believed that the giant sea mammal had rescued the villagers’ ancestors a long time ago.

The best time to visit the village is during whale hunting season, from May to October each year. There are several religious rituals carried out before the hunting season, such as Tobo Nama and Iye Gerek.

Besides whale hunting, you can see traditional weaving by local women and buy some Ikat fabrics or souvenirs made from whalebones.



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