The Manggaraian people are famed for their long-standing heritage of ritual and ceremonial life, as well as distinct agricultural and architectural practices. Caci performances, lingko fields and the Penti ceremony are just a few among many highlights that the Manggaraian people are proud of. With its many myth-spun cultural sites, embedded in beautiful natural surroundings, Manggarai offers treasures not to be missed during a trip to Flores.
Manggarai, situated in the westernmost part of Flores, is the island’s most densely populated region. It is divided into the three kabupaten (administrative districts) of Manggarai Barat in the West, Manggarai in the center, and Manggarai Timur in the East. Manggarai is considered to be roughly an ethno-linguistic unit. However, there are many different dialects of the Manggaraian language as well as some local variations of cultural elements.
Very little is known of the earliest history of the Manggaraian people. This gives way to colorful myths and stories about their origin and descent. Many Manggaraian people believe that their ancestors came from Minangkabau in West Sumatra, settled on the coast, then proceeded to the island’s interior.
A central theme of Manggaraian culture is the unity of the village, the house, and the fields, which is most visibly expressed in their circular shape and their spatial division into segments. A house used to be much more than a shelter to its inhabitants, rather an expression of identity and belonging: the particular architecture and structure symbolized kinship and marriage relations, as well as patrilineal descent. Before the Dutch colonial administration put an end to this way of living, entire clans used to inhabit a single house, with different generations living side by side.