If you are in Larantuka or on the Transflores ‘highway’ between Maumere and Larantuka, don’t miss stopping at Leworahang. This hamlet of Ilepadung is situated near a nice stretch of beach in a luminous spot of land, where beautiful trees surrounding the village center invite you to take respite from the burning midday heat. The friendly Lamaholot people of Leworahang, who mainly work as farmers or fishermen, are the proud owners of three, well-maintained traditional houses.
As you enter the village, you will find the korke, Leworahang’s adat (ceremonial) house, standing on wooden piles behind the big stone-pile in the village center. Being the center of many traditional ceremonies, the korke is decorated with ornamental carvings. Prominent carvings are birds and fish, which symbolize the newcomers who arrived from land and sea to become the lords of the land of Leworahang.
Lango Bele, which means ‘big house’ in the Lamaholot language, is the house of the first man who lived in Leworahang – so people say. The entrance of this charming alang-alang (thatched) roofed bamboo house is furnished as a cozy resting pace. Inside the house, there is a sleeping area, as well as two small rooms elevated above the ground. Ornate baskets of different sizes hang on the wall, as well as bejowong – a traditional place to store food.
A little bit further inside the village you will find kebang. Built on massive wooden piles, kebang used to be places for storing corn and rice, rather like raised, open barns. The pig jaws attached to the corners of the kebang (you will also find them on the korke) symbolize the strength of the villagers and their devotion to maintain their ancestors’ customs.
Even though the traditional houses are Leworahang’s main attraction, the village has a lot more to offer. Ikat is the vital element to the ceremonial life of the Leworahang people, and you will most likely see some women working on these beautiful cloths. The production of moke, a local alcoholic beverage made out of the sap of the lontar palm, is another interesting activity. Besides being a source of income, the moke is also used at ceremonial occasions.
Last but not least, Ilepadung is also a center of cashew nut processing. This work requires skillful hands and caution: the sap of the nut’s peel is a skin irritant, and the nut itself is a very delicate product. The returns on cashew nuts, which are sold to FairTrade organizations, adds an additional income source to subsistence farming.
Traditional ceremonies still play an important role for the people of Leworahang, above all Ahik Kokor, which is the annual ceremony for the renovation of the korke. Ahik Kokor is usually held around the end of March. It involves dancing and music, praying, communal meals, as well as the ritual sacrifice of many pigs, whose jaws are disposed at the korke and the kebang, as mentioned previously .
Leworahang has not received many foreign visitors yet, and it is a little bit difficult to find someone there who can guide in English. You can ask for Arnoldus Hurit Welan, a young, enthusiastic local who published a little booklet about the culture of Ilepadung. He is eager to show you around, though he is not always available. You can contact Arnoldus Hurit Welan on his mobile phone at +62 82145739528 or mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If youtravel to Leworahang on your own, please ask the local people for permission to see the traditional houses upon your arrival.
How to get there
Leworahang can only be reached by private vehicle – motorbike or car, since there is no public transportation that passes through the village. The distance from Larantuka to Leworahang is around 30km; from Maumere around 122km; the road from the small junction that leads off from the Transflores ‘highway’ to Ilepadung is about 12km. Turn onto this road and go straight ahead to the next small junction.
There, turn left again onto an unpaved road, which leads you along a beautiful stretch of sea, passing amarket building, to Ilepadung. If you want to see the traditional houses, take a left turn just before the entrance, and after some hundred meters you will reach your destination.