Cultural Highlights


Woven textiles are a very important part of the Florinese culture. Woven cloths are available all over Flores but the districts of Sikka and Ende have a long and rich history in weaving tradition. The two predominant styles of weaving in Flores are Ikat and Songket with Ikat means “to tie” in the Indonesian language and refers to the weaving process as well as to the woven product. The production of the ikat is a very demanding and time consuming process involving a variety of complex steps and procedures. Ikat weaving style is widespread in Eastern Flores and as numerous villages still are producing ikat, there are many opportunities for visitors to see weavers working on their masterpieces.

Songket weaving can be found in the Manggarai and Ngada districts of Flores, with the main feature of the weave being an ornamental thread that is inserted to the fabric.

Caci Dance

The Caci Dance of Manggarai is not just a cultural dance; it is a traditional whip fight that involves actual whips, shields, masks and sticks and actual blood between the adversaries. Competition is usually between two male fighters from separate villages and performed frequently during Penti, a festival which is held after the harvest to end the old agricultural year and accompanied by drums and gong music. Other occasions for Caci performances included marriage, birth and funeral ceremonies. Visitors can witness a Caci Dance in the village of Todo and Melo, located on the Transflores Highway about 20 km on the road from Labuan Bajo to Ruteng.

Ende’s Traditional Gawi Dance

Flores is a haven for various tribes with their own languages and religions, whose unique cultures and traditions are of major interests to tourists both local and foreign. Each tribe expresses itself differently and with a variety of traditional dances owned by each different region. In Kabupaten Ende, the Lio people perform the Gawi Dance or Tarian Gawi during religious ceremonies, festivals, parties and celebrations. The Gawi Dance is one of the most ancient tribal dances in Ende and is performed to showcase the tribe’s gratitude and thankfulness to God and their ancestors. The dance is performed en masse by holding hands and forming a circle-like formation with men in the inner circle and women in the outer circle. This dance is often featured in a number of ceremonies, such as the time of harvest, the construction of traditional houses, the appointment of tribal chiefs and other traditional events.

Nagekeo’s Tea Eku Dance

In the district of Nagekeo in Flores, the Tea Eku Dance is often performed, a traditional dance that originates back centuries. Usually performed by four to six beautiful female dancers, each dancer carries with her a small handkerchief as a symbolic attribute. Tea Eku itself comes from the words “Tea” and “Eku”. “Tea” means the vibration of the music and the movements of the dancer’s legs while “Eku” means the gentle movements of the waving handkerchief. A Tea Eku performance is usually accompanied by traditional music such as Gong Gendang. Gong Gendang music is usually adjusted to the dance movements so as to produce a harmonious movement. The entrancing music made by the Gong Gendang is often referred to as Paka Tea Eko. In addition to being performed at traditional ceremonies, the Tea Eku dance is also performed to welcome guests, at wedding celebrations, at art events and cultural celebrations.

Reba Traditional Ceremony

January – Kampung Adat Bena, Ngada, Flores

Reba is one of the most important ceremonies in the Ngada district – it is a thanksgiving celebration held annually to thank God and to honour their ancestors for blessing the villagers with good harvest and wealth. This ceremony is held over three days and is packed with rituals, food crops and livestock and focuses on the legend of the ancestors and how they travelled far and wide to find a better place to live. The are many different stages to the ceremony; preparations and rituals begin one week ahead of the actual day and is followed by the collecting of offerings, receiving guests, dancing, reciting original myths, and praising the yam root as yam used to be the most important and staple food in the past. As the village Bena is considered the mother of all Ngada villages, this ceremony will take place here first, followed by other villages in January including Langa, Nage and Wogo and Ruto, Deru or Turekisa in February. *Photo by

Pasola War Festival

February / March – Sumba Island

The Pasola War Festival takes place annually in February & March several days after the full moon in West Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara to honour God and the ancestors. Precise dates to the festival will usually be announced by religious representatives two weeks before the actual event takes place. Although thrilling to watch, the Pasola War Festival is an ancient ritual preceded by plenty of ceremonies and rituals. Visitors and tourists planning to watch should remember to behave calmly and accordingly. 50 men in traditional warrior costumes from multiple villages will be divided into two groups – the ritual begins with prayers and offerings and then warriors on horsebacks will begin chasing one another by throwing spears at their opponents until some blood can be seen. Do not be alarmed – the show of blood is part of the thanksgiving ritual for God and the ancestors. Pasola is derived from the word Sola or Hola, which means spear. *Photo by

Sarong & Tenun Ikat Festival

March – Kupang, Timor Island

Sarong and Tenun Ikat are traditional hand-woven textiles of Flores and East Nusa Tenggara. These textiles are crucial elements to the communities here and are held in extremely high regard. They play important roles to mark various milestones for families, the communities and villages in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The Sarong & Tenun Ikat Festival was conceptualized to uphold the importance of this heritage to the communities of East Indonesia while increasing awareness and exposure to this unique and ancient art form in the eyes of the world. In partnership with NTT Regional National Craft Council headed by Julie Sutrisno Laiskodat, the festival will showcase the various styles and creations of the Sarong and Tenun Ikat from Flobamora – namely Flores, Sumba and Timor. In addition to beautiful textiles, there will be a variety of traditional dance performances including Gawi, Dolo-dolo Jai dan Tebe and traditional foods from each respective district. *Photo by

Easter Parade (Semana Santa)

March – East Flores

Semana Santa is a holy week that is celebrated every year in Larantuka one week before Easter Sunday. Thousands of Catholic pilgrims from Flores and Indonesia travel to Larantuka for the week to participate in a 10km holy parade where the statues of Jesus Christ (locally known as Tuan Ana) and Virgin Mary (locally known as Tuan Ma) and baby Jesus leads the procession. The holy statues are usually kept hidden for the rest of the year, but they are on display during the week. Portuguese missionaries Gaspar do Espírito Santa and Agostinho de Madalena brought the statues to the island in the 16th century. Semana Santa begins on Shackled Wednesday with prayers where devotees remember the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. On Maundy Thursday they prepare the route with candles for the following day’s 7km procession. The climax of the week falls on Good Friday when the door of the chapel opens at 10am. The whole procession starts and ends at the Katedral Reinha Rosary. Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday mark the end of the holy celebrations. *Photo by Valentino Luis

Tour de Flores

May – Flores

One of the biggest sporting events to be held in Flores, Tour de Flores is a road cycling championship which takes place over several days beginning at Larantuka in East Flores and ending in Labuan Bajo with a distance of more than 700 kilometers in 5 stages for ten days. Tour De Flores 2018 was originally inspired by other similar events, such as Tour De France (Since 1903), Tour De Singkarak (Since 2009) and Tour De Banyuwangi “Ijen” (since 2012). Tour De Flores will cover a distance of 743 KM over 5 stages. The cyclists will travel throughout the length of the island’s covering ​​14,300 square kilometers at various temperatures. Tour de Flores brings the eyes of the world to this beautiful island in East Nusa Tenggara, highlighting the island’s incredible beauty along the spectacular coast, ethnic diversity, culture, megalithic traditions, language, religion, rare wildlife and fauna of Komodo, Kelimutu Lake, Pink Beach and so much more.

Ala Baloel

June – Alor Island

Ala Baloel is a significant traditional and cultural ceremony held yearly on Alor Island to repel evil spirits and bad luck. While you’re there, you could also visit Takpala Traditional Village, Mombang, Alor Marine Nature Park, and the island of Alor Kecil. Alor Island or Pulau Alor is an untouched paradise that is located just east of Flores Island. It is part of the Alor Archipelago and is home to 150,000 people who speak 15 different languages along with Bahasa Indonesia. The capital city of Alor is Kalabahi, with an airport with flights to and from Kupang. While the majority of the island’s population is Protestant, there are also Muslims and Roman Catholics who live side by side in harmony as they continue to strongly practice and integrate animistic rites and traditions. Also on Alor Island is an Atlas Pearls farm where some of the world’s most beautiful and sought-after South Sea Pearls are produced and cultivated.

Kelimutu Festival

August – Ende

The tri-coloured Kelimutu lake is located in the Ende regency and it will be the place of the upcoming Kelimutu Festival. The festival has been the icon of the Ende regency with the aim to honour the ancestors at Kelimutu.

Festival Nusak Sasando

October – Rote Island

Sasando is a harp-like stringed instrument originating from Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara. The name sasando is derived from the Rote dialect word ”sasandu”, which means “vibrating” or “sounded instrument”. During the Nusak Sasando Festival, over 100 Sasando players, usually called the Sasando Ta’e Sasanu will participate by wearing the traditional hat of Rote Island made from woven leaves of the lontar palm trees. These hats are called the Ti’ilangga. The participants will then place the Sasando musical instrument on their laps and music is created when the strings of the instruments are plucked in a similar manner to the harp. Almost all materials used to make Sasando are from Rote island. The festival is meant to highlight the beautiful traditional music created by the Sasando, and to expand Indonesia’s infinite musical potential to the international market.

Toja Bobu

December – Sikka, Flores

Toja Bobu is a beautiful dance drama performance, which was brought to the Sikka village – also known locally as Sikka Natar – in the 16th century by the Portuguese. Traditionally held in the village during Christmas time, this is a story about a beautiful, young princess being courted by many men, who all want to marry her. Also in the centre of Sikka village is an ancient church built by Jesuit Priests in the year 1899. The walls of the church are decorated with local Ikat motifs. In the old days, the church was used to hold inauguration of new kings along with Holy Communion. Sikka Natar is one of the most important and famous weaving centres in East Flores for the making of the Ikat. It is also one of the first places in Flores for Portuguese influence and Catholic missionary activities.

About Flores – Flores Plus Magazine

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