Wai Taka ho Mundo Perdido

In east central Timor the rocks and soil of the Mundo Perdido[i] mountain range (also sometimes known as K: Wai Nete Watu Ba'i='rising water, sacred rock') are conceptualized as the skin beneath which water pools after rising up through the earth from the sea. As it rises, this salty water is transformed into fresh water. Whilst life giving, it does not yet have the necessary force to transform into life itself. Rather, life requires its activation by another element—the sun, or its associative force, fire. Emerging forth from the subterranean darkness into the light of the surface world, the life potential inherent in water is transformed into life itself by the power of fire. 

The most important site atop Mundo Perdido is a place, once a spring, called Wai Taka ('closed water') a powerful portal to the 'other world'. It was through this transitional space that Timorese lieutenants of the colonial Portuguese army were said to have been sent by their superiors to train in Macau. Entering this 'door' to the other world, some would later return to roam the peaks as men in animal costume, causing havoc for the gardens of the local population. Yet at some point the Portuguese closed 'the door', placing on the site a cemented mountain cairn. 

[i] Referred to as Mundo Perdido (literally 'lost world' in Portuguese) by the Portuguese in the early twentieth century, this mountain range is known by many local language names depending on your origin house, your language, and what part of the mountainous landscape you are referring to and why. In everyday conversation Timorese now also refer to this mountain as Mundo Perdido. Its other names are generally reserved for ritual use when many names referring to particular rocky peaks, features and springs are called out in succession.
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Lisa Palmer 17-May-2012 06-Jun-2015
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