Kisar Dalahitu

Foundational cultural transformations in the Baucau region are recorded in stories of Major Ko'o Raku as being the result of local marriage relations and exchanges with island Kisar. These stories, emanating from confusingly unspecified time periods centre on a woman called Ono Loko (a daughter alternatively of Wai Lewa the founding ancestor of Baucau, or of the infamous nineteenth century ruler of Baucau Dom Joao Vicente Paulo from Boile). Ono Loko married with a ruler from Kisar known as Coronel Dala Hitu (Dala Hitu or 'seven times' was also the principal kingdom of the Ambonese in the 12th century).  Ono Loko travelled to Kisar with a local midwife from Baucau. The pair possessed knowledge which was until then unknown on Kisar, the knowledge of birth. Prior to this time, it is said that every birth on Kisar was a result of the cutting open of the mother's stomach (a procedure leading inevitably to the death of the woman). Yet with the assistance of her midwife, Ono Loko is able to give birth to eight healthy children, although each time this happens in secret. The nobility of Kisar were astounded and wondered how this could be possible. They checked Ono Loko's ears, nose and mouth looking for clues as to where the baby had emerged. Finally after the birth of her eighth child, the secret of birth was shared by Ono Loko and her midwife and the gift of life was given to the people of Kisar. In return, the Baucau region received back its eight sons and daughters who returned to found their own sacred houses. These children brought with them various objects which are, even today, central to marriage exchange relations in the region. 

In these stories of the return, the sons and daughters of Coronel Dala Hitu and Ono Loko arrive at a beach called Hare Lai Duro below the village of Boile in Baucau. They bring with them gold disks and weapons. After this they form relations through marriage with other groups and eventually these objects brought with them from Kisar become objects of marriage exchange, creating and cementing respectful exchange relations between fertility-giver and fertility-taker groups across the region. Later, more boats arrive from Kisar and they bring with them the much coveted Makassan swords which also become central to a respectful fertility-giver and fertility-taker exchanges and relationships . These boats landed first to the west in Laleia and near Vemasse at Ren'bo and Wai Wono. Following this further arrivals from Kisar brought coral necklaces [M:gaba] and these were given by fertility-givers to fertility-takers in exchange for Macassan swords. It can be seen that the original marriage of Ono Loko with Coronel Dala Hitu formed a pattern of marriage exchange whereby men and women moved across the water in both directions until the early twentieth century (see Correia 1935) . From this original exchange of goods (sourced from Kisar, Makassar and Ambon) subsequent generations in Timor have developed their own etiquette of marriage exchanges and respectful relations. Macassan swords, buffalo and horses given in exchange for coral necklaces (gaba), woven cloth (tais), rice and pigs remain central to marriage exchange practices in this area of Baucau.

Related entries

Label / Notes Owner Date Modified
Lisa Palmer 18-Jan-2012 21-Mar-2012