WanderlustOdysseyThriving Culture at Wae Rebo

Thriving Culture at Wae Rebo

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With its iconic communal houses that has stood the test of times, the village is a truly preserved cultural heritage.

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Flores is an island in East Nusa Tenggara Province with natural treasures and outstanding beauty in every corner. Through UNESCO, the world showed extraordinary appreciation to the island, especially to Wae Rebo, by awarding the village with an award for the best preservation of culture, outshining 11 other competing countries. This village is hidden behind the clouds of Manggarai regency at Satar Lenda, in the District of West Satarmese.

To get to Wae Rebo, you have to walk about 3 hours from Denge village, the nearest village from Wae Rebo. Nuances of natural beauty will accompany you along the way and as you reach the village, seven houses with its unique architecture will greet you, hidden among the hills, standing at an altitude of 1100 m above sea level.

The Wae Rebo village is home to 7 houses that are conical in shape called the gendang or mbaru Niang in the local language. In the center of the village, stands a compang, or stone altar, that is used as a place of worship for their ancestors. Despite having been exposed to christianity, the people of Wae Rebo village still maintain a spiritual connection to their ancestors through offerings and rituals.

Wae Rebo has become one of Flores’ most popular tourist destinations, attracting tourists from various countries. Its villagers are also part of its charm, with their warm welcome and eagerness to introduce their cultural treasures, including the welcome dance that is specially performed for the visitors, the Dende dance. In this welcome dance, dozens of men will take their positions in a circle while dancing and singing, led by the traditional elders.

The conical mbaru Niang itself also functions as a place where the people of Wae Rebo keeps their ancestral heritage, evident from the drums, gongs, and other heirlooms hanging inside the mbaru Niang. With a diameter of about 14 meters, each Mbaru Niang is inhabited by eight families, who is currently in their 19th generation. Although it does not cover too big of an area, the mbaru Niang consists of 5 levels; the first level, lutur, or the tent is the inhabitants’ main residence. The second level, lobo, or the attic is a place to store food and goods. The third level, lentar, functions as a storage for corn and other plants. The fourth level, lempa rae, which is a place to store food reserve that will be life-saving when the harvest is less successful. And the fifth level, the hekang kode, is a place to store offerings for the ancestors.