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We Uas

Date
02-Jun-2015
Description
In the kingdoms of Fatumea and Lookeu, as in the three other kingdoms of Koba Lima, the largest offering at the most sacred springs takes place only once every twenty five years along with the community celebration of their sacred house called dahur uma lulik that lasts for three weeks. The last community celebration of the sacred house of Lookeu took place in Lookeu of West Timor in November 1992 and was preceded by the biggest offering and celebration at Lookeu's most sacred spring, We Lulik or We Uas (uas=the original spring), in Foho Lor Lookeu, in East Timor. Dahuruma lulik Fatumea took place in 2010 and around 40 cattle and buffalos, more than 100 pigs, and countless chickens were slaughtered, during this celebration, preceded by the offerings and celebration at the most sacred spring, other sacred springs, sacred lands, forests, stones, hills as well as trees, and ancestral graves. It is only during this celebration that the sacred objects of the ancestors (bei siakan lulik) ordinarily kept inside the sacred house, are displayed to the wider community. They belong to the whole sacred house community, the dead and living as well as the lands, waters and mountains (see also Vroklage, 1953a: 415, 478). Here we focus on the offerings and celebrations made around the most sacred spring, and the holy water which is carried in two green bamboo cylinders(au bonun) covered with a special hand woven textile (tais).[1]

We take as an example, the offering and celebration at Lookeu's sacred spring in 1992, one week prior to the sacred house celebration and two weeks prior to the community blessing with holy water to mark the end of the sacred house celebration or feast. One week before the opening of the sacred house celebration in Lookeu, West Timor, at least two hundred people, men and women, young and old, of the Lookeu kingdom in East Timor and West Timor, gathered together at Lookeu's most sacred spring called We Uas in Foho Lor Lookeu, East Timor, for a sacred water ritual and offerings. They were there for two nights and two days. Thirty pigs and more than one hundred chickens were killed for the offering and celebrations around the spring, the site of the first sacred house of Lookeu, and site of the first ancestral graves. The activities prior to and after the offerings were made included cleaning up the areas around the sacred spring, storytelling, prayers, singing and dancing, preparation of meat and other foods for the offerings. After midnight around 3am when the 'queen of the stars' (fitun nain) appeared, the cooked food along with betel-nut offerings were placed on baskets called hane matan and were offered to the invisible owners of the sacred spring, the invisible owners of the sacred land and the ancestors by the lia nain ('custodian of the words') coupled with prayers. Following this the food and meat as well as the people were sprinkled with holy water (we lulik). Water was taken by the lia nain from the surface of the sacred spring and put into two bamboo cylinders (au bonun) and covered with woven cloth (tais), and placed on the altar made from stone at the head of the spring. This rite is called 'taking the top of sacred water' (kuru we fohon). Before the water was taken from the spring a poetic prayer was chanted by the lia nain in which matak malirin is repeatedly asked for (Vroklage, 1953a:521-525).[2] The following day the sacred water in the two bamboo cylinders were carried by two young and strong men dressed in sacred heirloom ornaments to the spring called We Onu (we=water, onu=plants that look like small bamboo which grow only in swamps) near the site of the current sacred house of Lookeu in West Timor. The bamboo cylinders filled with sacred water were then placed at the small altar made of rocks at the head of the spring next to two wooden statues of male and female deities (ai tos). Several people stayed there to guard the water until the last night of the sacred house celebration. A week later the celebration at the sacred house of Lookeu started. All people from the kingdom of Lookeu who live anywhere within or outside the territory of the kingdom came to the sacred house bringing with them pigs, buffalos, cattle, rice, betel nuts, cloth, drums and other things for the celebration which lasted for three weeks.

In the afternoon of the last day of the celebration of the sacred house, around four hundred people went from the sacred house of Lookeu to We Onu (one kilometre away) where the bamboo cylinders filled with holy water were still being guarded. Again two young and strong men walked in a procession with the crowd led by women beating their drums and men beating the gongs and singing and shouting. On the arrival at the We Onu spring, people danced and sang accompanied by the beating of drums and gongs around the spring. After a special prayer, the two young men carried the holy water in the bamboo cylinders, followed by the people in procession.[3] At the sacred house more people were waiting for the arrival of the sacred water, singing poems, dancing and beating of drums and gongs. The two bamboo cylinders were taken inside the sacred house and placed in front of the main pillar, the sacred pillar. A large red male pig and other five other pigs were killed by skilful individuals and the blood of these pigs was poured on the top of the sacred flat stone near the pillar next to the holy water. Several special baskets called koba with betel leaves and freshly sliced areca nuts were also placed as offerings next to the holy water in front of the pillar. Outside people were dancing and singing. Around eight o'clock at night the sacred prayer and history of creation(lia lulik) were sung by the makoan ('master of the sacred stories') reaching its peak at three o'clock in the morning when the 'queen of the stars' appeared and ending shortly after that. This was then followed by the matak malirin prayer (see also Vroklage, 1953b:15-16, 18-19)[4] and the sprinkling of the holy water over the people, the sacred house, the seeds, and the hai matan (lit. 'eye of the fire') referring to hearth and also symbolically to families(uma kain) and clans (uma fukun) within Lookeu and within Koba Lima as well as the sacred houses of Lookeu and Koba Lima and of other related kingdoms. The sprinkling of matak malirin in the form of holy water was made not by the elders of Lookeu but by the elders of the wife-giving houses of Lookeu (these elders are referred to here as malun). In the morning after the sunrise the spectacular event of the so-called ta karau (the sword sacrifice of large male buffalos) took place. After the deities and ancestors were offered the best parts of cooked meat and rice in special baskets (hane matan) placed in front of the sacred pillar, people ate their last meal together at the sadan—the gathering space in front of the sacred house. Cooked rice and meat and drinks (locally produced alcohol) were placed on top of large newly made mats (biti) and the people ate together. After that people in groups returned to their homes in different parts of East Timor and West Timor bringing with them the matak malirin for prosperity and well-being, and also the memorable joy of the community feast and of listening together to sacred story of creation, of the communions with their ancestors and deities, of renewing and strengthening their community ties.

We Uas ('original spring') is also known as We Lulik (Sacred Spring). This spring originated from the most sacred spring, We Lulik, at the top of the Bei Ulun Molik mountain in Fatumea, whose name is so sacred that it cannot be mentioned without a proper ceremony. The water from this original We Lulik was put into a green bamboo tube or container covered with woven cloth and carried to Foho Lor Lookeu and poured, with a ritual, on the ground there. A new spring emerged and was called We Lulik Lookeu. This was long before the Dutch and Portuguese colonial division of Timor in 1859. After the division of Timor,the water from We Lulik Lookeu was put into a bamboo container and was carried to Fatu Katouk, a part of Lookeu in Dutch Timor, a short distance from Lookeu in Portuguese Timor, and poured on the ground there under the shadow of a katimun tree. A new sacred water spring emerged there and was called We Katimun


[1]Likewise the Balinese Agama Tirtha or 'Religion of Water' centres on the acquisition and dispersal of sacred water carried in sacred bamboo cylinders (known as sujung),

[2] Vroklage recorded a rite 'hamulak ba oras kuru we fohon' from Lassiolat which is very similar to that of Lookeu and other Koba Lima kingdoms. 

[3] Ordinarily such bamboo water cylinders can be carried by anyone, but in this ritual context the overwhelming power of their sacredness creates a great heaviness necessitating that they be carried by young strong men.

[4] Two examples of prayer to ask for matak malirin from Diruma and Bekotaruik.
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