Lembata Island

lembata.jpgLembata Island is known throughout the world as the home of traditional whaling but what is not known is that the people of this Island are especially rich in cultural tradition. The beautiful rich Ikat weavings are entirely made from homegrown cotton, spun and dyed by the weaver. These cloths are still important as they are exchanged during marriage for Ivory tusks between the two families. The scenery throughout the Island is breathtaking, from the ever-imposing “Ile Ape” volcano of the palm fringed bays to the colorful bustling local markets – beauty and excitement are everywhere.

Lamalera village located on the southern tip of Lembata Island is the home of a traditional whale hunting community. Here, Sperm Whales have been hunted for centuries using all hand made equipment; their spears, rope and boats are all made in the village. The boats are without motors and the harpooner must jump from the boat to implant his harpoon in to the whale to ensure success. All parts of the whale are either consumed or traded with other Islanders for corn or other food. While whale hunting is not generally condoned by modern societies, when consider the ancestral links, the primitive equipment used and the importance to the people of Lamalera it is understandable that this traditional hunting has been sanctioned by the United Nations.

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