Among all traditional villages of Nagekeo District, Tutubadha has become one of the most remarkable villages to visit. It is not only due to the houses that are physically still solid and rich with traditional elements and ornaments, but most importantly due to the preserved culture. The community, called Rendu, still maintains strong traditional values borne in the many traditional rituals held annually in the village. Remnants of historical relics are still kept by these community members. Many of the relics are preserved so well that every piece of them unveils the root of Rendu people, an ethnic group of Tutubadha.
Never been quoted in the tourism map of Flores, Tutubadha is known only by a small number of local visitors. Located in Rendu – a village in Aesesa Selatan Sub-District, the less-traveled village is home to Nagekeo’s traditional ritual house called Sa’o Ji Vao. Tutubadha’s stilt houses have a unique shaped roof. The wooden houses have no walls but look so rich with eloquent patterns carved on their supporting poles. In local language, ‘Sao’ means house, ‘Ji’ means power, while ‘Vao’ is auspice. Ideally Sa’o Ji Vao bears the meaning of a house that serves as a shelter for the local villagers in which they find peace. In this house the whole tribe, from Ulu Tana Tada Riwu King to Eko Tana King from Rendu society gather.
The existing Sa’o Ji Vao was built in 1983. Every traditional house built there must go through no less than 17 steps of traditional rites, the same as Sa’o Ji Vao. The final ritual is Para Bhada – a ceremony that includes a buffalo sacrifice. Preceding Para Bhada, there will be a customary greetings delivered by the representative of the traditional community which is in local language called Bhea Sa.
Tutubadha can be a good choice for culture enthusiasts wishing to experience the less-known part of central Flores. The village is only ± 10 km away, from Nagekeo’s capital – Mbay. It has a good access road that allows guests to go by car or motorbike. Each year Tutubadha also holds ‘Etu’ – a lively traditional boxing event only found in central Flores. The seasonal event is best viewed in June in many villages around Nagekeo and Ngada Districts. Schedule of event may be different from one area to another. Please check with your tour guide or contact Bapak Frederikus Balita (Fredy), head of the village, Cell +6285333106518. You can also contact Mr. Nikolaus Jua (Head of Tourism Guide Association), Cell +62 81282947277.
Article by Dwi Setijo Widodo, images by Aditiyani Masita and Girda Safitri