Interpreting the Palu’e Legend Pio Pikariwu Arrested kingship in eastern Indonesia

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ABSTRACT This article explores the Palu’e legend Pio pikariwu and how the main character Pio is contested by two traditionally rival politico- ceremonial domains on Palu’e island. The stateless clan- structured societies of eastern Indonesia, such as the Palu’e, are not known to have stranger-king myths, the weight of the analysis therefore lies on whether Pio pikariwu fits this category. The relevant themes are compared with the established stranger- king tropes, while basic conceptual tools of comparative Austronesian ethnology, such as that origin establishes precedence, are used to explain the significance of the legend in contemporary society. The legend concurs with several themes of the stranger-king myth, despite that Pio neither becomes a sovereign or has a genealogy. The stranger theme concurs more with a divine kingship related to the South Sulawesi origin histories of founding rulers and a horizontal cultural transfer is plausible due to geographic adjacency and historical connections. A local character projection is also considered. The real-life contestation for Pio involves spiritually potent material heritage and exemplifies how tradition creates new events based on an original event believed to have happened, and that precedence issues extend beyond the domain and its alliances. The demonstrated inherent ambiguity reveals an arrested (divine) stranger-king myth, representing the rejection of kingship. To cite this article: Stefan Danerek (2023): Interpreting the Palu’e Legend Pio Pikariwu: Arrested kingship in eastern Indonesia. Indonesia and the Malay World, DOI: 10.1080/13639811.2023.2172874 To link to this article: If you are lucky, you can still get a…

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Palu’e Ikat: Nomenclature and Iconography

This, our first, published article on Palu'e ikat explores the theme of iconography and nomenclatures, both the imagery and the interpretation, and how the naming relates to those. It includes a lot of general information because it also presents the documentation. Perhaps we had not chosen this theme if we already knew that most of the reference literature have run into the same problem as we did, that "the weavers have forgotten the meaning of their patterns", which became an issue of general anthropological interest that we also explore. For this article we explored several angles, including side tracks which had little or no use in the end. We are very curious about how the first ikat weaving on the island looked like and where it came from, but this is not yet possible to establish. The most likely source is Flores. There are Palu'e origin myths or oral histories that tell of a migration from Roja, Ende on Flores, a Lio or Ende (proto-)group, but Palu'e ikat has very little in common with the Ende cloths we know since the 1800s, which are three-paneled, three weavings give two cloths. Perhaps those groups several hundred years ago produced a more simple ikat than today's patola inspired weaving. Who knows, anyhow the Palu'e have remained and developed within what can be called a more ancient design format with stippled white motifs on a blackish background with red stripes. The article went up 30 Nov -20, but it says 2021, probably because…

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Sépa – Palu’e scarfs/shawls

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This is how the Palu'e patterns, drawn from the sarong patterns, look on shawls. A small group of Palu'e weavers on north Flores were given the task to make shawls from the inventory of cloth patterns, some of which we had shared with them. The women have been working with natural dyes for at least four years now, and are now quite skilled at it. Happy to see these sépa. Image 1. The patterns are (left to right): 1. Hura 2. Wua wela 3. Loka 4. Wua wela 5. Nae romo (the men's cloth) 6. Wua wela 7. Dobe 8. Dobe. Image 2. The patterns are (left to right): 1. Widhi mata 2. Sa loi (part same as Hura) 3. Loka 4. Bhejo 5. Wua wela 6. Wua wela 7. Nae romo 8. Widhi mata 9. Wua wela. The last one is made by  Mama Longge, our master weaver who indirectly spawned the idea to make various shawls.

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Ko’a is the name of a ’ceremonial domain’ on Palu’e, one of the seven domains that adhere to agricultural cycles beginning and ending with the sacrifice of water buffalo. Dr. Michael Vischer in the first significant text on Palu’e textiles (in Hamilton 1994), a fine anthropological account of the relationship between Palu’e ideas connected with textiles to the system of Palu’e socio-cosmic thought, mentions that interlocutors related the word koa (lit. ’boil’), which relates to the fermentation of the indigo vat, to Ko’a. While this could be a reflection of the ideology of ‘precedence’, because this exists in every domain, which Vischer notes, a more obvious connection would be ko’a ‘to warp’, to set up the ikated warp yarns before dyeing, and the final setup of all the warp yarns before weaving. The pronunciation is the same, the apostrophe marks the consonant glottal stop, which is frequent in sara Lu’a. Ko’a is indeed one of the most traditional domains today, or the one where the inhabitants all learn how to togo ‘chant-dance’ and more. In one of their origin stories the people spread from Ko’a to the rest of the island. Anyhow, linguistically, the meaning of ko’a does not speak against this belief, perhaps the name of the domain is taken from the word, and weaving is ingrained in the culture. Newly born girls are presented with weaving tools at the name giving ceremony bundo ngara, and woven textiles are the prime good given by wife-givers in response to the…

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Nangge Liru, a myth about the origin of weaving

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Available as WAV-file with annotations, item SD1-037, at translation, still close to the transcription style. Story told by Lengu Nande. Notes: Areca fruit and piper betle, known together as sirih pinang in Indonesian, wua mutu in sara Lu'a, is a cultural pastime with ceremonial significance. Liru means 'the sky' or 'the heavens'. Raw rice grains, unhusked rice, siwe, is a ritual agent offered primarily to the deceased, the ancestors.That woman.. her parents lived up in the heavens. She had married a man from a village down by the edge of the world, so she lived in that village. There was no warping, and nobody to teach how to warp and weave. Then one moonlit night she talked to her husband. When the sun was about to rise, she stayed with their child, while her man, because the low tide was peaking, went searching for sea snails. He went searching for sea snails, while she and the child stayed at home. She cooked for the child, a small pot of rice. She cooked for her child, because she wanted to go up, up to her parents. When the rice was done, she told her child, “Hey, when your father comes tell him that if he is truly wealthy, go get me above Dheko pere réta wa Nangge Liru.”With a chicken and a coconut bowl of raw rice she went to the areca tree near the house. She asked the tree, “Areca, are you short, short until beneath the soil, or…

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From Language to Ikat

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Stefan (Cawa) and Ratu, were exploring the semantic domain of weaving with senior weavers and learned names of sarong (dhama) types that they hitherto did not know of: Bhejo, Loka, Sa loi, Hura..  The three first mentioned cloths still existed on the island, but in other domains (or villages) and in their styles; the main pattern of this Loka was different. Where we lived, in the Kéli and Ndéo domains, Bhejo and Loka were not in use any more. We were very lucky to find two old, over a century, cloths stored away in the village Ndeo. Although in poor condition, such old cloths are extremely rare on Palu’e these days. Before this we had never seen a Palu’e cloth in natural dyes. It is said that people, ata turis, or collectors came during the 90s and bought naturally dyed cloths. Another reason why old cloths are gone is of course that they become worn out until they are in such a poor condition that the owner disposes of them. Most people have not understood the value of a ragged cloth, for heritage, to copy, even to sell to a cloth enthusiast. The fate of the discovered cloths were a little bit better. We had two copies made of the Loka and one of the Bhejo. Later I heard that the Loka had been forgotten outside in the rains, and fell into the mud. Half of the piece was saved (imaged). As for the Bhejo, it was borrowed by someone,…

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Palu’e-Indonesian dictionary

  Palu’e (Sara Lu’a)-Indonesian dictionary with foreword, language description, and Palu’e-English-Indonesian core vocabulary wordllist. Published by UI Press, Depok. Order with the author if you cannot get it through UI press or elsewhere. 2019. 222 pp. See a review here:  

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