Traditional Whale Hunting

May-July 2019 – Lembata, East Flores

Lamalera village is home to the traditional whale hunting community. The indigenous people here have been hunting Sperm Whales for centuries, even before the arrival of the Portuguese. The entire process is a sacred ritual, filled with taboos and ancient beliefs using only handmade equipment like harpoons, ropes and tiny wooden boats. Once a whale is caught, it can feed and sustain entire villages for months. Three Sperm Whales can sustain villages for an entire year. All parts of the whale are used for food or the trading of fresh produce, meat and other foods while oil & blubber are used for cooking and lighting.  The people of Lamalera and their whale hunting activities have received sanction from the United Nations, considering the ancestral links, primitive equipment used and the importance of the hunt to their survival. The people or Lamalera says that without the hunt, it is impossible to live, as the island’s topography doesn’t allow them to grow crops. *Photo by Wonderful Indonesia

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