Sadan Fatu mea and Koba Lima

Koba Lima was formed as the coalition of five kingdoms with Fatumea as the oldest and the most sacred kingdom. The four kingdoms regard Fatumea as the origin, the place of the first people (rai oan: lit. 'the first children of the land'). People of Koba Lima (Fatumea, Lookeu, Dakolo, Sisi and Mau Demu) also believe that Fatumea is the origin place of the first human being, not only of Koba Lima but also of the whole world. There is a familiar lyric among people in Koba Lima about Fatumea as the origin of Uma Tolu and Koba Lima and of humanity of various colours. The lyric goes like this: 'the yellow bird was laying an egg on the slope of Fatumea (red rock), frightened by the thunder she cracked her egg.' Symbolically, it has a twofold meaning.The first is the birth of the Uma Tolu, and then of Koba Lima from the same mother, Fatumea. The second meaning is the mythical meaning, that is, the birth of human race that spreads to different parts of the world in different colours and features. As the world was being transformed by the creation of these features, there was still much to be worked out, many things that needed to be negotiated and settled among human beings and animal beings. While space does not allow us to describe this process of negotiation and settlement here in detail, three critical events are sketched below.

Firstly, as the waters retracted and We Biku and the mountain peaks emerged there was an ongoing tension between the beings of this emerging world (rai klaran) and the beings already inhabiting a world of water. At first the 'custodians or owners of the sea'(tasi nain), the Nai Bei ('great ancestors') and 'custodians or owners of the water'(we nain) manifest here as people with crocodile tails, refused to make space (sia la fo fatin ida). But in order that the sea would give way and provide pathways for the spread of human beings an exchange was 'negotiated' and the leaders of tasi nain, Lim Berek and Mali Berek, were decapitated and their heads brought to Fatumea for a celebration at the ritual centre known as Sadan Wehali Molin We Hali, Sadan We Sei Molin We Sei. The 'custodians or owners of the sea' then made space, the waters began to recede, pathways and places were created for the first people to populate. In exchange, the first human beings promised to forever praise and respect the 'custodians of the sea' through a web of complicated ritual practices and perpetual offerings stretching from the mountains to the sea. Nai Bei is the respected name for crocodiles(lafaek) as they are the 'great ancestors'. 

Secondly, these origin waters faced an additional obstacle in the form of an impenetrable rock face to the north. While the waters could flow south via three rivers to the south male sea (tasi mane), the pathway to the north sea (tasi feto) was blocked by a rock face. A small rice bird (manu hare called lamin ) appeared and pecked a hole in the rock face allowing the waters to flow north via three rivers to the sea, Mota Hali Boe or Mota Talau, Mota We Merak, and Mota Bauk Ama, decreasing the water flow to the south and enabling the appearance of the plains (rai fehan) on the south coast which is, after the imposed division of Timor, in East Timor (Suai and We Keke) and in West Timor (Laran, Besikama, Betun, We Bria Mata, We Oe or We Biku, and Haitimuk). The rock face at the entrance to the female north sea is called Fatuk Lamin Toti (lit. 'rice-bird pecked rock face') (Grijzen, 1904:8-10) which is beautifully visible from the top of the mount Fatumea called Bei Ulu Molik (lit. 'the bald head of the grand ancestor').

Thirdly, the 'custodian of the tracks' (inuk nain) and the 'custodian of the path' (dalan nain), named Bei Leki Nai and Bei Nai Berek, are entreated by 'the deity of the great sacred, the deity of the great heat' (nai lulik waik, nai manas waik) through the previously mentioned first king of Fatumea, Bau Nahak (Bau Halek)[1], to plant two fast growing species of tree called ai donu and ai kala across the emerging lands, thereby stabilising the earth, providing fodder and enabling fire. In these understandings water is female, the purveyor of life and unity, it gives life to vascular land plants and these plants make fire possible. It is fire that ultimately transforms life. On the other hand, vascular land plants such as au (bamboo) and other spring associated trees and plants, such as the banyan(ai hali), water tree(beko and ai-we), pandanus (hedan),preserve water drawing it to the surface and/or preventing erosion.

Fourthly, the first human beings also had to negotiate their ecological niches with other animal beings especially goats (bibi) and buffalo (karau metan or karau Timor). At one time people ate grass, goats and buffalo ate corn. Yet this made no sense to the first people as buffalo and goats had big strong stomachs and there was little corn. People meanwhile had delicate small stomachs and there was so much grass. A meeting between the people and the animals was called and the problem was discussed. The people suggested that if they swapped food sources each could be better satisfied and in addition the rampant growth of grass could be controlled by the healthy appetites of the animals. The animals sounded their approval and the exchange was completed. 

[1] In prayers asking for rain in the kingdoms of Wilaen and Dafala (wife-takers of Lookeu) the name of Bau Nahak is mentioned many times as the king of the wind—anin (wind) Bau Nahak that brings rain (Vroklage 1952a 56, 89, 93).