Lamalera
 
Lamalera is a village wel-known for it's unique fishing tradition. It is the only place in Indonesia where people still using the ancient technics in catching big fishes on the high seas. The village is difficult to access by land transports until the late of 90's.

The  coastal village, boat builders and whalers follow ancient rules. Their boats are sacred and, they believe, immortal. Their prey is gigantic and dangerous. They are the sea hunters of Lamalera, an isolated village on the tiny Indonesian island of Lembata.

To the 150 or so hunters and the rest of the village's 2,000 people, each of the fourteen boats that operate out of Lamalera (formerly known as Lomblen) is a living being that links them to their ancestors and their ancestral home. That home, as legend has it, was to the north, on an island destroyed centuries ago by a tidal wave. After a long journey, two boatloads of survivors landed on the harsh, volcanic coast of Lembata, where they built a village above a crescent beach facing the turbulent but rich Sawu Sea. One of the two boats that brought their ancestors to Lamalera was, say the villagers, the Kebako Puka.

In Lamalera there is a boat also called the Kebako Puka, which, according to its crew, was identical in every detail to the original (the model for subsequent boats). When a boat dies--in a storm, of old age, smashed by a furious whale--the villagers mourn for two months while a replacement is built.

It takes eighteen trees to build one. Root ends are used to make the stern, so that their life force will flow toward the head of the boat. Planks are carefully adzed--never bent--to the correct curve. The planks are caulked with palm-fiber oakum. Hand-carved wooden pegs--never nails, screws, or anything else metal--are driven in with stone hammers.

Carved crosspieces are lashed to the frame with rattan. Finally a sacred symbol is painted on the prow; a common one is eyes that search unceasingly for prey. On the prow of the Kebako Puka a snake coils around a mountain, symbolizing the tidal wave that destroyed the Lamalerans' ancestral home.

Though the population is Catholic, animist temples are dotted around the village. Each clan has its own boat and boathouse. Their 10-meter-long boats (pledang) - painted, named, and decorated on the bow and sides with slogans in Indonesian or Latin - are built without nails; only wooden pegs and rattan are used. Planks are cut with the necessary curve instead of being artificially bent. To maintain the flow of life force, plank ends from the base of the tree always lie toward the bow of the boat. 
 

The whaling season runs from about May, when the rains end and the seas are calmer, until around October when the rains return; the best months to witness the hunt are May, June and July. Villagers also hunt sea cows, manta rays, turtles, sharks and porpoises, but always prefer to go after a whale. Boats are manned by 7-14 helmsmen, oarsmen and harpooners. After spotting a whale and before they go in for the kill, the whole crew urinates, pulls down the sails and says a communal pater noster.

From a flimsy platform extending forward from the bow, the spearsman leaps with his three-meter-long bamboo-shafted harpoon at the end of a long palm-front rope to give it extra thrust, sometimes landing on the back of the whale. If the whale spouts bright crimson, it's a fatal wound. Sometimes a boat is pulled all the way to Timor by a maddened, runaway whale. The villagers take about 20 whales a year, mostly sperm whales, and place their skulls on gateways around the village.