Culturally Rich and Unique – Rote

Culturally Rich and Unique – Rote

Rote Island may be famous for its surfs, white coral sands and a breathtaking underwater world that is teeming with the most incredible marine life, but Rote is so much more than just a surf and dive destination. It is one of the most culturally rich islands in East Nusa Tenggara. Until today, ancient traditions and customs are still practised, just as it was hundreds of years ago. A great symbol of this is the one-of-a-kind Rotenese Hat. Also called the Ti’i langga Raja, this hat is worn by males of the society as part of their traditional clothing and to protect themselves from the sun.

Made entirely from lontar palm leaves and without using any stitching or glue, the design of the hat was meant to mimic the helmets of Portuguese sailors who first arrived on Rote in the 16th century. Another culturally unique item that you can find here in Rote is the musical instrument Sasando. This stringed musical instrument cannot be found anywhere else outside of East Nusa Tenggara. Featuring 28 strings, the Sasando is made out of bamboo and dried lontar palm leaves and makes a unique, vibrating sound while the Violin Sasando sounds more like a harp. An incredible fact is that the design of the Sasando dates back to the 7th century.

Here in Rote, you’ll also find the highest density of kingdoms in the East Indies. Just like ancient tradition, the kingdoms are each divided into two domains, one known as Sunrise and the other as Sunset. There are Lords and several advisers representing each clan. There are also ceremonies where villagers would make offerings to their ancestors during significant dates throughout the year.

Photo by Fakhri Anindita on Flickr

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