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Rendu Ola Traditional Village

Written by on June 10, 2023

Kampung Rendu Ola is located in the highlands, approximately 23 kilometers from Mbay, the capital of Nagekeo Regency. Nagekeo Regency is located in the middle of Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The area is characterized by beautiful natural landscapes such as savannah plains, hills, and valleys, which were formed millions of years ago due to the collision of the Sunda and Australian tectonic plates. In this region with low rainfall, relatively high temperatures, dry air humidity, and strong winds, the savannah provides a natural food source for livestock.

Picture 1 – The view towards Rendu Ola.

Rendu Ola is the oldest village of the Rendu tribe, and its layout follows a radial pattern. The entrance to the village is marked by a wooden gate called Atu. The access to the village is through a footpath with stone fences on both sides.

The footpath, along with stone fences on both sides, serves as the access to the village entrance, marked by a wooden gate called Atu. The stepped stone fence that follows the contour of the land is called Kota Bo’ A. This fence serves to protect the village from enemies and evil spirits. The village consists of 10 traditional buildings that have been preserved for generations. As the oldest village, Rendu Ola serves as the center for the expansion of Rendu tribe’s traditional villages in the surrounding area. The open space in the middle is where various traditional ceremonies and rituals that bind the Rendu community take place.

Picture 2 – Atu a wooden gate

The distinctive symbol of the Rendu tribe, a wooden post with two branches, is called Peo. It is located in the center of the village. The Peo symbolizes the unity of the Rendu tribe. An intellectual heritage inherited from the ancestors of the Rendu tribe hundreds of years ago. Each tribe consists of 7 clans. Rendu Ola Village is the oldest village, and the Peo symbol is unique to this village only. The Rendu community believes that Peo can protect them from various threats, such as natural disasters, epidemics, and disturbances from malevolent beings. Beliefs that are still firmly held by the present generation.

Picture 3 – The Peo symbolizes the unity of the Rendu tribe.

Peo is erected periodically. If it becomes damaged or decayed, Peo will be buried. Its replacement is determined through the agreement of the customary leaders and involves a ceremonial ritual process. The process of making Peo is conducted in the forest. The current Peo erected in Rendu Ola is the fifth one, named Laki Neawea.

Picture 4 – The ritual process of creating Peo.

In addition to being a place of residence, the house represents the elements of the universe: the upper world, the lower world, and the middle world. The roof represents the upper world, the realm of the ancestors, while the body of the house represents the earth, the realm of humans. The space underneath the house represents the lower world. The place for pets or belongings.

Picture 5 – Roof, body of the house, and space underneath.

All the building materials for traditional houses are sourced from nature and obtained from the surrounding area, including alang-alang grass, bamboo, and lontar trees. Everything is cultivated, nurtured, and prepared for constructing and renovating traditional houses. This includes taking care of nara trees in the forest until they are ready to become the pillars of the traditional houses when needed.
The use of natural materials obtained from the surrounding area in the construction of traditional houses in Rendu Ola reflects an awareness to preserve the environment. By utilizing natural materials such as thatch, bamboo, and lontar trees, the indigenous people of Rendu demonstrate their commitment to environmentally-friendly practices. By utilizing locally available building materials, the Rendu indigenous community reduces their reliance on materials that can cause environmental damage. They practice sustainable use of natural resources and value the balance of the ecosystem.
The preservation of the environment is a strong value in the culture and traditions of the Rendu indigenous community, and the use of environmentally-friendly building materials is a tangible expression of their commitment to nature and the surrounding environment.
By opting for eco-friendly construction materials, the Rendu community demonstrates their dedication to maintaining the balance of nature and safeguarding the environment. This conscious choice reflects their deep-rooted belief in sustainable living and their desire to protect the natural resources and ecosystems for future generations. The emphasis on environmentally-friendly practices aligns with their cultural ethos of harmony with nature and responsible stewardship of the land.

Pict. 6 – Materials for traditional houses

The division of space in a traditional house is divided into three parts: padha, teda, and tolo. Padha is the front area of the house that is connected to the public space. It is typically used for socializing with family and receiving guests. Teda is the central part of the house, which serves as the main living area. It is where daily activities, such as cooking, eating, and relaxing, take place. Tolo is the rear part of the house, usually used for private purposes. It can serve as sleeping quarters or a more secluded area for family members.

Picture 7 – The family is gathering on the terrace (Padha).

The Teda space is the main part of the traditional house that serves as a living area for family members. It is a space where daily family activities such as eating, sleeping, and gathering together take place. It is also used for cultural and traditional activities, serving as a venue for ceremonial rituals, family gatherings, or other social events. This space reflects the importance of tradition and cultural life within the Rendu indigenous community. Additionally, it serves as a place for interacting with others, receiving guests, and holding important meetings.
On the walls of this room, there are reliefs depicting a pair of male and female figures known as Anadeo, symbolizing the ancestors in their house. Anadeo symbolizes the close relationship between humans and their ancestors. They are considered as ancestral spirits who protect and bless the house and the family residing within it. Anadeo also serves as a symbol of balance, unity, and continuity between the human world and the spiritual realm. The Rendu indigenous community respects and values the presence of Anadeo as guardians and protectors that encompass their lives.

Picture 8 – The central room (Teda) and the Anadeo relief.

The form of Anadeo relief in Suku Rendu varies depending on the art and traditions of the indigenous Rendu communities in each area. However, in Rendu Ola as the oldest village, the Anadeo relief is depicted with naked figures. In other villages, the form has evolved and diversified. Nevertheless, the meaning remains the same, as a manifestation of the ancestors and with the aim of seeking protection from them. The Anadeo relief serves as a symbolic representation of the ancestral presence and acts as a means to invoke their protection over the house and its inhabitants. Its purpose is to establish a connection with the spiritual realm and seek the blessings and guardianship of the ancestors.

Picture 9.The Tolo room, cooking hearth, ancestral artifacts, and Pu’u Duke.

Tolo is a private space within the traditional house. In this room, there is a sleeping area, particularly designated for women. It also includes a kitchen for food preparation and storage of provisions. Additionally, Tolo serves as a storage area for ancestral belongings and heirlooms. One significant feature found in this room is the Pu’u Duke, a designated space for offering rituals and ceremonies to honor the ancestors. Pu’u Duke is a sacred space or altar found within the Tolo, the private room of the traditional house. It is a designated area where rituals and offerings are made to honor the ancestors. The Pu’u Duke holds great significance in the cultural and spiritual beliefs of the Rendu community.

Picture 10 – The Sale building and the remnants of traditional ritual sacrifices.

To the east of the village, there is a structure called Sale. Sale is a significant structure in the Rendu community, as it holds cultural and spiritual significance. It serves as a repository for the remnants of ceremonial animal sacrifices and represents the connection between the community and their ancestral traditions. The preserved pig jaws and buffalo horns are considered sacred objects and are stored in Sale as a symbol of reverence and respect for the rituals performed by their ancestors. The presence of Sale reflects the cultural heritage and deep-rooted beliefs of the Rendu people in preserving their customs and honoring their ancestral practices.

Picture 11 – Mole and Raki (Small Peo)

Beside the Sale, there is Mole, a dining table used for pre-ritual feasting. Additionally, there are small Peo or Raki, which serve as protectors for the larger Peo. The pre-ritual feast at Mole is a gathering where participants of the ritual and members of the indigenous community come together to have a meal. The food served usually reflects the traditions and customs of the Rendu indigenous people and may consist of local dishes and specialty foods prepared specifically for the occasion. The pre-ritual feast is a moment to strengthen social and cultural bonds among the participants and to prepare themselves physically and mentally before entering the sacred ritual procession.
Raki, or Small Peo, has a special function in the cultural context of the Rendu indigenous community. It serves as a symbol of protection and is believed to have spiritual significance. The presence of Raki is believed to ward off negative energies, evil spirits, or potential threats to the larger Peo (main) structure. Raki symbolically represents the community’s belief in spiritual protection and the preservation of their cultural heritage. It serves as a reminder of the importance of safeguarding and maintaining traditional practices associated with Peo, ensuring its vital continuity within the community.

Picture 12 – Nabe Nakamosa

Nabe Nakamosa, a large stone located at the southern end, holds significant meaning as the starting point of Rendu Ola village and the establishment of the first Peo. This stone serves as a historical and cultural landmark for the Rendu community. Nabe Nakamosa is not just a physical marker but also carries symbolic significance. It represents the ancestral connection to the land and marks the origins of the village and its traditional practices. The stone is often revered and considered sacred by the community, as it reflects their roots and the spiritual significance of their cultural heritage.
Beyond its historical and cultural meanings, Nabe Nakamosa also serves as an important site for social and cultural activities. It is sometimes used as a location for traditional ceremonies, family gatherings, or other cultural events. The stone becomes a focal point and a source of identity for the Rendu community, reminding them of the importance of preserving and safeguarding their valuable cultural heritage and history.
While most of the residents no longer reside in their traditional houses, they are obligated to return when their customary ceremonies are held. These ceremonies hold great significance in the community as they serve as a connection to their cultural roots and ancestral heritage. The residents, scattered in various locations, maintain a strong sense of attachment and obligation to their ancestral land and traditions. They understand the importance of upholding their cultural practices and preserving their customs for future generations. Therefore, when the time comes for the customary ceremonies to take place, they make a concerted effort to return to their village.
These ceremonies are not only a means to honor their ancestors and seek blessings but also an opportunity for the community to come together, reconnect, and strengthen their bonds. The residents recognize the value of these ceremonies in maintaining their cultural identity, fostering a sense of unity, and passing down their rich traditions to the younger generations.
Despite the changing lifestyles and geographical dispersion, the residents hold a deep respect for their customs and make a concerted effort to ensure the continuity of their cultural heritage. The mandatory participation in these customary ceremonies reflects their commitment to preserving their traditions and honoring their ancestors, reinforcing the importance of their cultural identity in the fabric of their lives.

Picture 13 – Gabriel Bedi

Gabriel Bedi, the elder statesman of Rendu Ola village, has been steadfast in inhabiting and safeguarding his village. As a respected and revered figure, he plays a crucial role in upholding the traditions, customs, and values of his community. Gabriel Bedi is deeply respected and admired by the villagers for his wisdom, experience, and dedication to preserving their cultural heritage. As the leader of Rendu Ola, Gabriel Bedi assumes the responsibility of making important decisions that affect the welfare and development of the village. He serves as a guiding figure, providing guidance, resolving conflicts, and ensuring the well-being of the community.
With his leadership, he strives to maintain harmony, unity, and the preservation of their ancestral practices. Gabriel Bedi’s commitment goes beyond his leadership role. He actively engages in the daily life of the village, participating in community activities, ceremonies, and rituals. His presence and involvement serve as an inspiration to the younger generations, instilling in them a sense of pride, cultural identity, and a deep connection to their heritage.

Reader's opinions
  1. Bambang I want to write an article, how do I submit it? What are the requirementsI want to write an article, how do I submit it? What are the requirementsI want to write an article, how do I submit it? What are the requirements?   On   June 12, 2023 at 7:05 am

    Sangat menarik Mas Bambang Supriadi , semoga karya2 dokumentasi lainnya bisa kita nikmati juga.

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