Kulu Kai ho Kulu Roma

Both the Waima'a and Makasae settlement histories of coastal Baucau area record the arrival of people, usually brothers, from the Peaks of Matebian and Mundo Perdido. In the myth recounted by the people of the Waima'a village of Wani Uma [W: 'house of the bees'] to the north west of central Baucau, three named brothers descended from the mountains 'in darkness' down the river valleys toward the coast. When they reach the coast the youngest brother had an injured leg and could no longer continue. It is recounted that as it 'was getting light', he had neither the necessary strength nor speed to continue this journey. At a place called Buruma [W: 'house of monkeys'] he heard the winged serpent crow, signaling to him this was the place he should settle. He did so and sent his elder brothers on their way. 

Waima'a ritual verse (loli)from the village of Wani Uma records this event, although unusually it does so in Makasae:

Asa bui bere du'u We male birds have come from the mountains

Kokoroe dana kokoroeBut the earth is already light 

Nadani la'a doYou two go on to the rocks beyond

Afasika na Wasika na isi la'aI am going to stay here.

Eventually the descendents of this man, in some accounts comprising a party of another three brothers, headed across the sea to settle on the island of Roma. Importantly, however, at unspecified intervals two of these brothers later made their way back to island Timor. One brother settled to the east of Wani Uma inland on the Laga coast beneath the Matebian range. This brother, who arrived at the house of Boleha, brought with him a particular breadfruit tree (kulu kai: 'the seedless Kai breadfruit'). The other settled to the west of Wani Uma in a coastal zone near Bundura called Wai Wono. This man brought with him another kind of breadfruit tree (known as kulu roma: 'the seeded Roma breadfruit'). Hence while both brothers symbolically shared the same trunk, the fruit of their respective branches was distinct. Oral histories recount that the branch which first settled with the Boleha house headed south up into the mountains of Matebian to a place called Baguia where they intermarried with the local clans (the nearby Afalokai is said to be the origin settlement from where first peoples of Wani Uma descended to the coast). In a story reminiscent of the Butu, the descendents of these kulu kai people (who are also said by the people of Wani Uma to have been hairy) then descended from Matebian in waves. Meanwhile the other group of returnees who arrived to settle at Wai Wono continued to move slowly east along the coast to Baucau. They first settled on the spring fed plain by a hillock called Wai Mata Me below Wani Uma. Later these people moved to the beach of Mau Ba'i below Buruma. At this beach there is a natural rock pillar of the same name which is sacred (lulik) and said to be the metamorphosed body of the crocodile ancestor on whose back the returning people of Wai Mata Me arrived from Roma (later arrivals are said to have come on the back of a whale (M: afibere) and octopus (M: tala dau)). 

A Waima'a ritual poem (loli) records the arrival of these two waves of migration, referred to as the brothers of Kulu Roma and Kulu Kai:

Kokoroe Koe eThe male bird crows

Kokoroe koe laThe male bird crows

Ro mai-e – la dopa mai-eThe boats are coming 

Kokoroe koe eThe male bird crows

Kokoroe koe laThe male bird crows

Roma mai-e laThe boat is coming from Roma

Ro mai eThe boat is coming

La ro mai la teu Rai MalakuAnother boat comes from Malaku

Tasi tuku tasi tenaThese sons have been brought up across the sea

Iti ana watu rai tenaThey come to plant breadfruit and level the land (make paddy)

Kaiwetu kei aku resa keiIn separate hamlets and houses.

These first people to settle at Wai Mata Me were a brother and a sister and they commenced their settlement below Wani Uma by creating two rice paddies which were named Bui Laku Bui Liri. They also brought with them bamboo lengths filled with water and when they moved to their final settlement site at Mau Ba'i on the coast below Buruma they created (M. saun=planted) there two springs known as Wai Mata Oli [W: large spring] and Wai Mata Me [W: small spring].

Related entries

Label / Notes Owner Date Modified
Lisa Palmer 05-Oct-2013 02-Jul-2015