Preferred Citation: Hoskins, Janet. The Play of Time: Kodi Perspectives on Calendars, History, and Exchange. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1993 1993.

3 The Past in Narrative The Creation of the Calendar

The Past in Narrative
The Creation of the Calendar

Apart from the practical value of the calendar it is used in order to supply the framework of a narrative account of the year. Whenever one of the old men is asked about the moons he does not give a sober account, but will proceed at once to recite a story in which he gives the successive names in a more or less detailed and flowery description of what takes place in each. An intelligent old native will make it clear that not everyone knows the names of the moons, that only those having to do with gardens and knowing how the year runs are acquainted with them.
Bronislaw Malinowski,
"Lunar and Seasonal Calendars in the Trobriands"

Malinowski's description of the Trobriand response to questions about the calendar in a sense replays my own field experience. When I first began my investigations and traveled to speak to a couple of respected older men, I was encouraged to focus on the calendar, "the Kodi months and the. Kodi year" which might give an overarching structure to the vast project of recording Kodi tradition. "If you don't know where to start" an old man advised me in an early conversation, "start with the sea worms. That is where we start ourselves."

The enumeration of month names was also an occasion for enumerating an annual round of social activities, the times of feasting and the times of famine, and also, I was to discover, the division of ceremonial tasks among ancestral villages and the location of objects that represent the historical process of acquiring these rights. The creation of the calendar at a consensus meeting of the ancestors provides the narrative frame that orients, to a certain extent, all Kodi storytelling about the past. All accounts of how crucial social institutions came into being are in some way related to the structure of the sea worm festivities and the divisions of the year. Knowledge of the calendar is focused on a few important ritual centers, invested in named religious officers (the Rato Nale, or "Priest of the Sea Worms"), and seen as something of a "native science."

Having said this much, however, it should be added that there is no "master narrative" of the origins of Kodi society or the calendar. The


stories that exist are "owned" by certain houses and "attached" to objects within them, and told by their descendants in full recognition of their partial and partisan content. An idea nevertheless persists that, scattered through the memories of a great many different storytellers, there is a common, encompassing story line that—although contested and debated in many of its details—is both inscribed on present-day social institutions and part of a shared, narrativized past.

This chapter represents my attempt to reconstruct that shared story line, through the presentation and analysis of seven different texts. Each one, collected from a descendant of an ancestor involved in the story, was considered a relatively "legitimate" version of a portion of the past, but each was also the subject of other interpretations and counterclaims, which I discuss alongside it.

Kodi thinking about the past is expressed not only in narratives, but also in exchange valuables, the architecture of villages and gardens, the names of places, and movement through the landscape. A feature of the narrativized past, however, is its malleability—and this feature is also its undoing, for stories are given less credence than many other forms of evidence because of local recognition of their almost infinite variability. It is important, therefore, to begin with considerations of genres of narrative and their relation to knowledge about the past. Once we have situated narrative in the context of other forms of "traces" or "signs" left by the ancestors, we can better understand how these particular stories are fixed in time and place, and why debates still rage about them.

A sense of temporal positioning, of how human acts have been ordered in time, is clearly crucial to problems of legitimacy and historiography in Kodi. The origin narratives discussed in this chapter convey an ambivalent attitude toward the locus of authority, often defined by contrast to the locus of action in a diarchic division of agency. In the colonial period, this ambiguity came into play in reshaping authority, moving it away from the ritual centers and into a newly defined "political" sphere, separated from the officers of the calendar. Later transformations of exchange transactions and the "new order" penetration of the state into local affairs disturbed indigenous ways of talking about the past, leading to a new authoritative discourse in "history" (sejarah )—a progressive, oriented vision of a discontinuous past, informed by the rhetoric of a new national future.

None of these transformations has brought about a complete change: the different forms of historical consciousness developed, respectively, in precolonial times, the Dutch period, and the years since independence still coexist in dialogue with each other. By studying their complex interrela-


tionships we can analyze the processes of formation and interpretation that lie behind them.

Genres of Stories About the Past

Knowledge of the yearly cycle and the control of time is a key strategic resource of the local polity. Calendrical knowledge is concentrated in the most prestigious genre of storytelling, the recitation of narratives that are "attached" to persons, objects, or locations. These narratives usually concern origins, and knowledge of an object's origins can carry power over that object. No ancestral relic can be addressed without pronouncing its special couplet names; yet it is both dangerous and inappropriate to pronounce these names without an understanding of their sources and significance. The classification of a narrative as "fixed" or "grasped" by a particular person, therefore, implies certain standards of authentication and legitimation that do not apply to other genres.

Kodi storytellers recognize four categories of narratives,[1] which are differentiated by their relations to space and time: "stories from long ago" ngara kedoko e nawu ; "stories performed with songs,' ngara kedoko lodo ; "stories that are held or attached" ngara kedoko pa ketengo ; and "the voices of the ancestors" li marapu . "Stories from long ago" which make up the first group, happen in a distant, bygone era that is roughly similar to the "once upon a time" frame of Western folktales. They refer to an age when trees and animals could still talk, people did not yet die, and the Kodi did not yet live at their present village sites. They include animal fables of a vaguely philosophical and speculative character (Needham 1957b, 1960), accounts of how people acquired shared human characteristics, and the stories about the origins of days, months, and seasons that we have

[1] These four genres can be compared to Adams's (1970, 1979) enumeration of three similar categories in East Sumba: harvest myths told in the fields, clan myths told on the porches of clan houses, and chanted texts in ceremonial language performed inside the clan house for the invisible audience. Her list marks a similar progression from unmarked, ordinary language to more fixed, invariant speech but does not differentiate between the "stories from long ago" and the "stories performed with songs." Christine Forth's (1982) dissertation on Rindi oral narrative concentrates on nine orphan (ana lalu ) stories that I classify among the "stories performed with songs;' though her texts are much briefer than the Kodi ones. Kuipers (1990), writing about Weyewa ritual speech, notes a similar progression toward invariance and greater textual authority in the movement from divinations to misfortune rites to feasts of fulfillment (woleko ), but his discussion focuses only on genres of couplet speech and does not include vernacular narratives.


"Stories that are attached" can be narrated only by their rightful owners,
who usually prefer to speak on the wide verandas of their ancestral houses,
where they can request permission from the dead to tell each tale. 1985.
Photograph by the author.

already surveyed. They do not refer to social divisions between people, houses, or territories, and can be told by anyone in an informal context.

"Stories performed with songs" in the second group, are elaborate performances that alternate vivid scenes of dialogue and action with commentaries sung or chanted in ritual couplets. Their recitation requires a specialized, and usually paid, storyteller, who speaks for an entire night. Moreover, because the stories are sacred, they must be preceded by the sacrifice of a chicken to the ancestors to ask permission. They feature standardized heroic protagonists: the male figure is called Ndelo in the greatest number of stories, though occasionally Rangga or Haghu; the female figure is almost always Kahi or Leba. The story typically begins with the birth of the protagonist and usually concerns orphanhood, abandonment, and a struggle to recover a lost position of privilege. It is punctuated by long songs of lament, in which the hero's or heroine's trials and tribulations are recast in poetic couplets. It ends with a happy reso-


lution, usually a marriage or a triumphant feast of celebration. Although these stories may "belong" to a specific village, they can be told by a number of talented storytellers, and are a form both of entertainment and of edification.

The third genre comprises stories that are "attached" to persons, places, or things; often, therefore, they are called in Indonesian the "property" (milik ) or "legacy" (warisan ) of a particular descent line. They are highly sacred, but need not be told in an elaborate style, and at times are in fact quite truncated in their presentation. Although they contain short passages in couplets, they are narrated in the vernacular and are more "realistic," even "historical" in their content than stories in the first two groups: that is, they take place in actual, named locations, concern the ancestors of the storyteller, and have a minimum of supernatural elements. They may be jealously guarded, so that not everyone is allowed to listen in when a performance occurs. These stories document how people and objects came to their present homes and contain historical "evidence" in the form of references to named valuables, places, and persons.

The fourth genre, the li marapu —"voices of the ancestors"—is a chanted, relatively invariant series of couplets that is performed only when actually invoking ancestral spirits. Recited almost exclusively beside the sacred pillar in an ancestral house, these narratives refer elliptically to the events of the "attached stories" but do not elaborate on them. Their purpose is not to explain the past, but simply to evoke it, using a chain of place names, ancestor names, and the names of sacred valuables to "travel back" to the marapu and summon them as an invisible audience for a ritual event.

The genres are distinguished by the conditions of performance, their "truth frame" and the community they address as an audience. While the first two groups are considered part of the heritage passed down through the generations, it is expected that a narrator may change or at least embellish their story lines to achieve the proper effect. In contrast, the "attached narratives" are supposedly invariant, and a narrator must assert that he is doing his best to repeat the tale as he heard it from his father or grandfather. The li marapu , as ritual invocations, are so rigidly structured that a mistake in pronouncing the couplets could necessitate the paying of a fine or, in an extreme case, result in physical danger to the speaker: if someone speaks wrongly in an important ancestral house he risks illness and even death, sanctions from the listening ancestors who decide that their voices have not been properly rendered.

Each genre has characteristics of what Bakhtin (1981, 84) has called the chronotope : "In the literary artistic chronotope, spatial and temporal in-


dicators are fused into one carefully thought-out, concrete whole. Time, as it were, thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible; likewise, space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot and history." The chronotope defines generic distinctions as different relations to time: in the first category of narratives, the relation is reflective and generalizing; in the second, time is used to edify by means of dramatic tension, comedy, and song; in the third, an authoritative but partisan vision of a sequence of legitimating events is provided; whereas the fourth is characterized by a definitive and invariant ritual text.

The "stories from long ago" and the "stories told with songs" recall the romance genre in many ways, taking place in an abstract adventure-time where no significant changes occur. At the end of the story, the initial equilibrium that had been destroyed by chance is restored, and everything returns to its own place. For some storytellers a psychological development occurs, with the hero or heroine becoming more knowledgeable as a result of these various experiences, but it is not characteristic of the genre as a whole. The songs are repeated, sung once at each stage of the protagonist's travails; their very repetition reinforces the idea of an unchanging time frame in which the individual simply moves through a series of stages. The space of the "stories with songs" is also abstracted: although specific villages are named, the same story can be told by different storytellers in different locations. Thus, the narrative itself is not fixed to particular locations but simply uses them as a frame for the action.

The "stories that are held or attached," by contrast, occur in concrete space, with great importance given to named locations and features of the landscape. The time that they contain is a time of sequences and orders, but not yet a "chronology"—in the sense of a time situated in relation to an external time scale, such as the passage of years. Nonetheless, such a chronology could be said to be emergent in the form of the stories themselves, since they are about the origin of a single external time scale: the ceremonial system that synchronizes events to provide a unifying cycle for social life in the domain.

The li marapu are conceived not as narratives about the past but as the actual voices of the ancestors—that is, the past speaks directly in the present. The spirits play a ventriloquist's role, "placing" the words into the mouth of the speaker and requiring that they be pronounced correctly. As he chants or recites these couplets, the priest is said to be a simple mouthpiece of the spirits ("the lips told to speak, the mouth told to pronounce" wiwi canggu tene, ghoba tanggu naggulo ; see Hoskins 1988b). There is no loss of consciousness on the part of the speaker, who does not become possessed. He remains responsible for his words, and this respon-


sibility is immediately checked by the ancestor for whom he speaks, who can punish any errors that misrepresent him or other traditions.[2]

The Politics of Narrative Collection

The methodological problems that I encountered in trying to piece together this collection of narratives illustrate cultural attitudes toward the ownership and guardianship of the past. Members of the community who were interested in my project warned me that I would be told many lies and that I should insist on seeing the objects to which each narrative was attached in order to validate its legitimacy. They also told me to listen only to the "masters of the house" (mori uma ) when collecting its narrative traditions and to pay no attention to the "talk on the veranda" among those less directly involved. Some of my taped narratives were given to me in confidence, with a request that they not be shared with rival groups. Most storytellers, however, were willing to let their words be widely known, because they were proud of their claims and wanted others to recognize them.

My informants disagreed about whether this project should be a simple compilation of diverse stories told in different villages or should result in the distillation of an authoritative "history of origins." I soon became convinced that no single "true version" existed, but the project was haunted by the possibility that such might have existed in the not too distant past. Although aware of discrepancies, my Kodi informants liked to imagine that a unifying canonical text could be pieced together "if only a few more old men were alive today, those who really knew." With this aim in mind, they applied themselves with particular rigor to the criticism of the texts collected.

The future use of these materials was also of great interest. One of my assistants, a former schoolteacher named Guru Katupu, proposed that at the end of my stay I leave a notebook of the complete texts, in Kodi and Indonesian, in the district office where it could serve as a reference work

[2] The frequency of these punishments was much debated. Ritual speakers are Often older men, and when one of them dies abruptly after an important ceremony speculation inevitably arises about whether he might have "said something wrong" in the course of his oratory. A number of both speakers and singers, moreover, are blind. One such singer, Ra Kambura, told me that his loss of sight allowed him to concentrate on listening to the spirits and thus protected him from error. Another, Rangga Pinja, who lost his sight some four years after I met him, interpreted his blindness as a punishment not for mistakes he had made in speaking but because one of his sons had been convicted as a thief and blemished the purity of his descent line.


for generations to come. The suggestion was vetoed by his mother's brother, Maru Daku, who noted that there were people who might want to destroy such a record, much as they had burned local government archives in the past. He proposed instead that printed versions of individual narratives be given to those who had provided them to me, and that these be stored in their own ancestral houses, "so those spirits could watch over them and protect them separately." The younger man here was affirming a belief in a master narrative and a synthesis of Kodi traditions, while his senior was cautioning him against the possible consequences of forcing a consensus that did not exist. I decided on a compromise: the documents I left in the district office listed the names of the spirits worshipped by all the people of Kodi, in the shared ritual traditions of the harvest and rites of affliction, but it did not include partisan versions of the acquisition and distribution of sacred objects.

Real historical time and space can never be completely assimilated into expressive forms. Each of these four narrative genres offers a lens through which we can view a Kodi construction of the past, but none is absolutely definitive: even the "attached stories" which carry the greatest authority, are challenged and contested. The Kodinese see history as materialized in the house and its possessions. Narratives about ancestral exploits are themselves placed among the "possessions" of a house and are permanently attached to it, subject only to the variations of memory in its descendants. Remembering becomes a sacred duty, and ancestors can punish those who remember them falsely or neglect what they have said. This is why I was told to listen only to people who were as permanently attached to these houses as the narratives were: if one of them were to deceive me, he would suffer the consequences, because these stories are "heavy" enough to crush offenders who play games with them.

Presentation of Texts

For the purposes of exposition, I present seven narratives, each identified as the product of a specific narrator and clan. They are arranged in a sequence that corresponds roughly to the one in which "the events" are said to have unfolded, but there is no occasion in Kodi when all of these narratives would be told together. The central narrative—the one most widely known, though in abbreviated form—is text #5, concerning the founding of Tossi by Mangilo and Pokilo, the Sumbanese equivalent of Romulus and Remus, two orphaned boys who stumble into possession of the sea worms and the most important valuables in the domain. The other


texts all refer to this one in some way, usually by including Mangilo and Pokilo themselves or by "anticipating" or "repeating" some of their actions.

I have chosen the fullest and most lively texts to present as a first version, but I follow these with a discussion of alternate versions, to convey a sense of both the common ground and areas of disagreement. Leach's early (1954b) reminder that mythic discourse provides "more a language of argument than a chorus of agreement" can be explored in terms of the controversies surrounding these texts.


Lendu Myamba was the first Sumbanese to bring the knowledge of certain things from across the seas. He came to the island along with many others in a migration from the west, crossing over the stone bridge [kataku lendu watu ] at Cape Sasar and entering from the north coast. After a few years, the first settlers began to experience hardships. Their garden crops were not large enough, and there was nothing to eat during the hunger season. Lendu set off to look for new sources of food [mandata ]. He was accompanied by Pala Kawata, his mother's brother, who took the form of a giant python.

They traveled across the western seas to the splendid kingdom of Rato Ndimya, a foreign lord who had tremendous wealth. Lendu hoped to secure powerful valuables and magical knowledge from him, but first he had to perform a variety of trials. When he arrived at the palace of Rato Ndimya, he was treated as an honored guest, and a large water buffalo was slaughtered in his honor. The meat was not skinned or separated from the bones but chopped up and cooked all together. Then he was told to eat the huge pile of flesh, skin, fur, and bones so that his host would not be offended. Realizing that he could not do it alone, Lendu prayed to his mother's brother Pala Kawata, who told him to ask to be served by the palace gates. When the huge plates of meat were brought to him, the python slithered up behind, opened his mouth, and swallowed it all whole.

In the second trial, Lendu had to play buke : a post as slender as a hair was set up fifty meters away, and Lendu was told to hit it with a small sharpened bamboo dart [karaki ]. He again called on his mother's brother, who gave him a piece of sticky resin to put on the dart. When he set the dart flying straight, the resin made it head for the hair-thin post and stick there, so that there was no doubt that it had struck fast.

The third trial was the board game kule , played with two rows of eight holes and twenty-four dedap seeds. The goal was to arrange eight in a row, and even though the number of seeds was not great enough,


Lendu managed to win with the help of Pala Kawata, who magically created new seeds from his mouth.

Once he had passed all of these trials, Rato Ndimya announced that he had been searching for a son-in-law to marry his beautiful daughter Nyale, and Lendu had proved himself worthy. "But what" he asked, "did you come looking for on this long voyage?"

"I was searching for eternal life" answered Lendu. "I have grown tired of hard garden work in this dry land."

"Alas, there is no eternal life" said Rato Ndimya, "but I will give you a gift of returning life, to renew the land with fresh waters. I will give you the sea worms [nale ], spirits from the deepest ocean who will bring you fertility and the birth of new generations. Each year, if you receive the sea worms well and they are abundant, your rice harvests will be good and your descendants Will be plentiful."

With the help of Pala Kawata, Lendu produced a magnificent bride-wealth payment of gold valuables, which he presented to the foreign lord. Rato Ndimya's daughter was told to prepare to return with him as his bride. She was dressed in all of her finery and sat beside him as he was given a series of farewell gifts.

The most important gift Lendu received was the karaba rica , a small trough to hold the worms and preserve them with ginger and spices. The worms themselves were not inside the trough, but he was told that they would come to meet him on a specified day of the year when they swarmed along the western beaches. They would continue to come to the island as long as they were greeted with a ritual combat on horseback called the pasola . He also took with him the megapode bird [wondo ; a long-legged forest fowl that builds large mounds of mud in which to lay its eggs] and several wild tubers, caterpillars, and honey. These were all wild foods that could be eaten in times of famine while waiting for the harvest of garden crops.

As Lendu's ship prepared to return home, Rato Ndimya's daughter refused to come with him. She threw herself into the ocean instead, her body parts breaking up into many tiny small pieces, which would wash up along the beaches of Kodi in February—red pieces from her rosy, betel-stained lips, blue and black pieces from her long flowing hair, golden pieces from her smooth skin. If he found the right spot in Kodi, he could release the sea worms from his trough and call the other worms to swarm and reconstitute the lost body of his sweetheart in the sea.

Lendu and Pala Kawata returned to Sumba, following along the same pathway as the first ancestors:

They came to Cape Sasar far away

Duki la Haharo malango

The road that they traveled

A lara li pa lini


Past seven layers of fences

Nggallu pitu wala

They arrived at the stone bridge

Toma la kataka lendu watu

On the path that they followed

A annu li ha mane

Past stone walls up to the knees

Kanale cadu kuha

They followed the northern coast to the region of Bukambero, where the megapode bird was released. She immediately began to gather up bits of mud to make a huge nest to lay her eggs. The nest was as tall as a high-towered house, so the bird was called Wondo Cabeka ["the great house builder"]. Her eggs were incubated in the mud nest until they hatched into a man and a woman, who became the first inhabitants of an area called Ngundu Ngora Tana, Pyapo Ndara Lewa ["the cape of land stretching out, the round cheeks of tall horses"]. They took the wild foods brought from overseas and settled there.

Lendu observed the techniques that the megapode bird used to construct her house and taught the other Sumbanese to build their own homes in the same fashion—standing on wooden piles with tall thatch towers, so that their finest heirlooms could be stored in the tower. He himself build a large house with a great tower in the interior of the district of Bukambero.

Narrated by Temba Palako, Pati Merapati, Bukambero

This narrative marks the beginning of a sequence of events. The descendants of Lendu and the children of the megapode bird are the present inhabitants of Bukambero, numbering some four thousand; their home is at the northern edge of the domain of Kodi, and although most them are fluent in Kodi, at home they speak their language (paneghe bukambero ), which is most closely related to Laura. Because Bukambero is a marginal territory, however, this narrative is a potentially controversial part of the corpus of the "Kodi past." As the first architect of Kodi villages, Lendu had an important role to play in defining the region's cultural identity, but he is not acknowledged as a founder of Kodi. In Tossi, people play down his importance, stressing the fact that Lendu received the sea worms overseas but (as we shall see) was not able to keep them for himself.

Lendu's courtship of the daughter of Rato Ndimya, who later metamorphoses into Inya Nale, the female spirit of the sea worms, recalls the Javanese tradition of Nyai Lara Kidul, Goddess of the South Seas. She became the special protectress of the House of Mataram after a similar series of events:

According to Mataram tradition, she was a princess of Pajajaran who had been driven from the court when she refused a marriage


arranged by her father. He laid upon her a curse: she was made queen of the spirits with her place beneath the waters of the Indian Ocean, and would only become a normal woman again on the Day of Judgement. . . . After Senapati [the perhaps mythical founder of Mataram] had spent three days with her in her underwater palace, the Goddess promised him the support of her spirit army.
(Ricklefs 1981, 38)

Like the Javanese princess, Inya Nale is the female consort of the "ruler" of Kodi and can be summoned to appear only by those who possess certain sacred objects (green cloth in Java, the sea worm trough in Kodi). Her unwillingness to marry Lendu is sometimes interpreted as showing that he was not an appropriate leader for all of Kodi, thus requiring the transfer of the worms to others.

While the people of Bukambero are acknowledged to be the custodians of an ancient and in many ways powerful form of knowledge, other people in Kodi are profoundly suspicious of them and of this version of the origin of the worms. Lendu is recognized to have had the worms in his possession at a certain point, but versions told in Mete and Tossi say that it was in fact Temba and Raghe who brought the worms from overseas. Another form of secret knowledge that Lendu is widely believed to have brought to the island is not mentioned in this myth: the knowledge of secret poisons (pawunu ), which find their way into food served to guests in Bukambero and which work, like witchcraft, to consume the internal organs of the victim and transfer all his strength and vitality to the witch who has afflicted him. All the people of Bukambero are suspected of being involved in witchcraft, though most deny that the occult arts are practiced by more than a tiny number of the indigenous inhabitants. The descendants of two matriclans (Walla Kyula, Walla Ngedo) and the patrician of Wei Wyalla Pati Merapati are particularly notorious for their knowledge of poisons, herbs, and wild foods.

In the narrative, Lendu receives nale in disguised form: the gift of the daughter is in fact the gift of the worms. Lendu believes that he is receiving a human bride, but in fact he receives only the shattered pieces of her body—the sea worms which will bring him the renewal of life that he seeks. The trickster is thus, in one sense, tricked, since he does not get what he bargained for and his most precious gift cannot be used in his own homeland but must be passed on.

The text introduces a symbolic trope that we will encounter in other narratives as well: the idea of an original location which in some way proved unworthy. This trope is useful because it is open to multiple


interpretations, and the tension between different versions is often not resolved. Thus, from the perspective of this storyteller, the narrative establishes the ritual priority of Bukambero, since the worms were brought by Lendu from overseas. From the perspective of other storytellers whose narratives follow, however, it establishes only that Bukambero was the first of a series of different locations for the worms on Sumba, but not their definitive home. In denying the consequences of the story told in Bukambero, the people of Mete and Tossi incorporate many similar elements (especially the idea of a series of games and trials) into accounts of subsequent events.


Since Lendu lived in the interior and could not release the sea worms near his home, he traveled out to the coastal region, passing through the deep forests of Honde Ryara. There he met two small boys, Mangilo and Pokilo, who were living all alone in a "Monkey Shack" that served as an outpost for hunting monkeys and wild pigs. Mangilo and Pokilo saw the worms and thought they were a plaything—a bauble made of cotton, a skein of colored strings [maghana lelu, mangguna hario ]. They wanted to play with them, but Lendu was not sure that he should surrender them. He invited them to come stay with him in Bukambero.

A little while later, Temba and Raghe came by. Temba and Raghe had migrated from islands to the west, sailing to the northern promontory of Sasar, where their wooden boat was smashed to pieces on the stone bridge that then linked Sumba and Sumbawa. Their father was Tana Mete ["Black Land"], their mother was Ndabi, and their descendants were also "black" [i.e., members of the village of Mete]. They traveled to the island of Sumba with many other companions, but they were the first to reach the western tip of Kodi. They sailed around the island to the east, past the southern districts of Anakalang, Wanokaka, Lamboya, and Gaura, and eventually to Kodi. They stopped in Balaghar and set up a stone, called the Temba Raghi stone. Near the western tip of the island they stopped and planted a garden at Kule Ndako, the "Wandering Board Game"[3] named after a game they played on their trip.

One day they wandered farther inland and discovered there were other people living in the area, who did not have gardens or cook their food. They were hunters, skilled in herbal medicines, and eaters of raw foods, who knew many poisons and occult secrets. They lived with the

[3] Kule is a game played by inserting dedap seeds into a piece of wood in particular formations. It is traditionally associated with the sea worm festivities, and it is taboo to play it in the period preceding the arrival of the worms.


wild animals and wild spirits of the region [marapu la kandaghu ], and some of them were said to be witches and eaters of human flesh. Temba and Raghe made a peace pact with one of them, an old woman who lived in a hut made of bitter creepers [warico lolo kapadu ]. She had no fresh water, only brackish water, and no cured tobacco or dried areca nut, only fresh leaves and fruits. But she lived in a fertile valley and was willing to let them live beside her if they promised not to harm her or her husband. Temba and Raghe cut off bits of their fingernails and hair and scraped a bit of flesh from their tongues to be put into a bamboo flask as proof of their pact. They settled at the upper end of the village, in what became Mete Deta, and the old woman and her descendants settled in Mete Wawa. But the village was still empty and lonely.

Temba and Raghe invited Mangilo and Pokilo to join them in settling the new territory of Kodi. But Lendu and his brother, Atu Awa, were reluctant to part with them. Temba and Raghe played a trick on the boys to persuade them to move to the coast: they filled their drinking gourds with coconut water and offered them to the boys.

"Where does this delicious water come from?" asked Mangilo.

"It comes from the coast, where every day you can drink this sweet liquid," Temba and Raghe said. They did not tell them how parched the region could be in the dry season, or that fresh water was not available for much of the year. Each day, they fetched new coconuts to feed to the boys so that they would agree to join them in their new home.

Temba and Raghe wanted to adopt the boys, but their guardians in Bukambero did not agree. "If you take them away like that, you will be stealing our younger brothers, and that will be the beginning of an unending enmity, like that of cat and mouse. Our people will come to take heads from your people, and your people will come to take heads from ours."

"No, we do not want that, so we will give you something to compensate you for the food and betel nut that you have given to raise them." Lendu Myamba was given a huge gold breastplate, the marangga bali byapo ["breastplate of both sides of the river" the couplet name for the Kodi territory], to secure his blessing. That breastplate is still to be found in Wai Walla, Bukambero, as proof of the fact that the masters of the Kodi calendar spent their youth there. It also assures the people of both regions that they are not strangers to each other, and cannot take heads on the warpath.

Lendu had to provide a countergift for the gold valuable that he had received, and he also wanted to provide the boys with something that would bring them good fortune in their new home. He decided to give them the "plaything" they admired so much, but it came with ritual requirements.

"My home is too far from the seashore," he said, "so I will give these


worms to you so you can play with them like cotton baubles, amuse yourselves with string games. But there are also responsibilities. Once you release the worms into the sea, they will come back each year on a specific day, and you must count the years and measure the months to determine the proper day. They must be greeted with a mounted battle, the pasola , so you must find a village site where the horses can run without hurting their feet. You must teach the others to observe the taboos that come with welcoming these special creatures, and then you will receive good harvests and many descendants."

Mangilo and Pokilo took the worms close to the sea shore, but as the boys played, the worms got washed away in the river water.

"Where are the sea worms?" Temba asked.

"They have disappeared," the boys answered.

"Then go look for them, all over Kodi if necessary!" said Temba.

They searched all along the coast, and found that the worms had been caught by the roots and trunk of a banyan tree at Kawango Wulla [the "Moon's Banyan," near Tossi]. The worms were rescued and taken out to the sea at Kawoto, near the western tip of Sumba at Cape Karosso. But the land there was too rocky for horses to run without hurting their feet. Then they took them to the midpoint of the coastline, Halete, in the center of the line of ancestral villages called Pola Kodi, "the trunk of Kodi." There, the worms swarmed in great numbers and washed up on a sandy beach where they could be easily collected. A large flat grass field lay beside the beach, perfectly situated to receive the thousands of horses and riders of the pasola . The site was renamed Kapambolo Nale Hari, Karangga Rica Marapu ["Platform for Sacred Sea Worms, Beam of Spirit Pule Wood" the present site of the pasola combat]. This was the best site for the sea worm woman [Nyale] to be reborn.

When the trough was placed at this site, in the shade of the Kawango Wulla tree, the next day they found on the beach a great porcelain urn that had washed up from the sea. The urn was filled with cool, fresh water, which Mangilo and Pokilo drank, surprised that it was not salty after being tossed for so long by the waves. "This will be our village" they said, "and here will be the home of the sea trough and the urn that cannot be lifted." It was clear that after this long journey, the sea worms would remain at this site, which is where Pokilo and Mangilo built their own village, Tossi.

Narrated by Guru Kedu, Mete, Pola Kodi

This narrative uses the trope of a journey to establish both a series of areas that have some residual rights to participate in sea worm rituals and the primacy of the two oldest villages in Kodi, Mete and Tossi. Since it was collected from a descendant of Temba and Raghe, it places them in the


spotlight, stressing the events that made them the "first to claim the land, and first to build a village" (kapunge tana, tandai parona ). However, as in the story of Lendu from Bukambero, this narrative finishes with the sea worms being passed on to another owner. In some versions told in Tossi and Wai Kahumbu, the trip overseas to obtain nale is carried out not by Lendu but by Lete Watu, the trickster who exchanged fire for water in the narrative about the origin of the seasons (see chapter 2). Lete Watu was the younger brother of Mangilo, who later split off to found the village of Wai Kahumbu.[4]

The long search for the proper place to hold the horse jousting combines practical considerations with political ones: the form of pasola is taken as a heritage from the overseas kingdom of Rato Ndimya, linking the promise of fertility that comes from the worms' swarming to a ritual condition that these visitors be welcomed with a proper spectacle. Lendu, Temba, and Raghe surrender their earlier rights in order to place the worms in a new location that is not merely close to the sea but at the very center of the line of ancestral villages along the western coasts.

The relationship of Mete and Tossi in this narrative is that between an adoptive father and his young sons. It contrasts sharply with the one we see in text #5, where Mangilo and Pokilo turn on their earlier benefactors and usurp the site of the "unopened land and round stones" (mboka tana, mbola watu ) where the ancestors first settled. But let us first turn to two other stories of change and disruption in the times of the earliest settlements.


After several years, the region grew more inhabited, but it became unsafe. Settlers along the western beaches began to notice that their pigs and chickens were disappearing mysteriously. The raids escalated, and soon not only small animals but also horses, buffalo, and even people were perishing. The trouble was caused by Ra Hupu, the younger brother of Mangilo.

When Ra Hupu was just a boy, he began to throw small nets of cotton string in front of the house. He threw the nets at grasshoppers, as a game. But when he caught grasshoppers, poor people began to die here and there. Their souls were caught in the webbing of the magical nets.

[4] Lete Watu strongly resembles the Weyewa figure of Yanda Mette (Kuipers 1990) and is also associated with two brothers, Anda Mangu Langu and Mete Mangu Dulu, who were, in some accounts, the first Sumbanese to arrive on the island. Some say, using a folk etymology derived from Indonesian Malay, that Anda, the elder brother, went first into the tides, while Mete "first waited" (Ind. mangu dulu ), then followed him. Others say that Langu and Dulu were the names of the wives who accompanied these two brothers to the new land.


His spirit was fierce, it was not good, so he could not control this magical power. When he grew up, he bought thread of many colors—black, white, yellow, and red. He wove nets from this thread, and smelted heavy weights for the nets from gold.

This time, when he went down to the seashore to cast his nets, they were powerful enough to endanger not just poor people but important ones. He would cast them in the sea and catch the bearded manduli fish and the mangata fish with a straight tail [couplet name for the nobles and wealthy men who became his prey]. Ra Hupu grew into a huge mar with a forelock of yellow hair who could breathe flames of fire. When others objected, he went on a rampage to punish them, sending out lightning bolts or fierce winds, which blew so furiously that all their tender young crops were destroyed.

The people of Kodi decided to meet in Tossi to establish a system of order that could control his rampages. "We must send you off to cool your head. You will go into exile in the next valley, where you will live at the corner of the river and the edge of the tides," said Rato Mangilo.

The meeting was held in the Uma Batango (Council House) in Tossi, presided over by Temba and Raghe, known as Temba who established the villages and Raghe who owns the land [Temba tandai parona, Raghe kapunge tana ], since they were the founders of the region who established the first rights to land. All of the lands in Kodi were divided between the ancestral clans and houses, and a single mother-father village had to be chosen to keep order and oversee the annual cycle of the months.

At this meeting, Ra Hupu was banished to the other side of the river, to "soak his head and cool his liver" in the fresh waters that flowed down from the highlands. He was told to

Go off to the creeping bamboo vines

Otu bandikya ela onggolo lolo

Go off to the small bitter plants

Otu bandikya ela padu katapa

Home of the wild hens and white songbirds

Pandou tagheghe, pandou katara

The large coconut leaves

Nuha kalama

The twigs of ledo wood

Paworo ledu

Stand at the long snout of the tides

Ndende ela manumbu mara

Sit at the corner of the river

Londo la kabihu loko

Watch over the pike fish

Kandi ha kamboko

Guard the realm of the shrimp

Dagha ha tana kura

Cutting the meat separately

Roponi ha kabiyo

Heaping the rice on his own

Hanggani ha ngagha


With these words he was exiled to the other side of the embankment [Bali Hangali], where he and his descendants would live on their own territory, separate from the original villages of the "trunk of Kodi" [Pola Kodi] but still acknowledging their ritual preeminence. He was forbidden to steal from his fellow Kodinese, but his fierceness and fire were given a new focus in the skull tree erected in the center of his village, where the heads of enemy highlanders could be hung. On the warpath, his magical weapons and control of the winds could once again be used—but in Kodi they would not be unleashed for as long as the Sea Worm Priest [Rato Nale] remained confined during the month awaiting the swarming of the worms.

When he established his residence at Mba Ronggo, Ra Hupu moved into the territory of Pala Kawata, the python who had helped Lendu overseas. Pala Kawata came originally from the highlands, but in certain years he would visit the drier regions of Kodi, bringing with him abundant rains and unusual fertility. Pala Kawata took a fancy to Ra Hupu, so he adopted him as his nephew and moved his own residence farther upriver to the gates of the river and the source of the swamps [binye loko, mata rende ]. The descendants of Ra Hupu have preserved a special ritual relationship with Pala Kawata, so that if they need more rainfall they can ask for it by shaking the trees at Mba Ronggo in the early hours of the dawn, or by making offerings of betel and chicken feathers at the sites associated with their ancestral names.

Narrated by Ngila Pati, Bondo Kodi, Mbali Hangali

This text serves largely to justify the land rights of the people of Bondo Kodi, who established rights to all the territories that border on the river. This right is expressed socially by the fact that they must receive the heads of all sacrificed buffalo and pigs throughout this region. It also comments, obliquely, on the problematic trope of first owners versus later owners that we noted in the first two narratives, since in this text Temba and Raghe preside over the consensus meeting, but it is held in the Council House in Tossi.

Ra Hupu, like Lendu, is an adventurer who is allied by fictive kinship with the python. While all sides agree that Ra Hupu was powerful and disruptive, his descendants stress the ways in which his magical powers could be put to the service of others—in obtaining rainfall or enemy heads, for instance. Detractors emphasize the losses suffered by his fellow villagers, which led to his exile. Because Ra Hupu and his descendants still control lightning and rainfall, members of other villages must go to them and present a sacrificial animal to request that rites be performed to bring rain or control lightning bolts.


The text views the central consensus agreement that established the ceremonial system from the periphery, the outermost edge of Greater Kodi. It also presents a part of the rituals of agriculture, whose more complete version is found in the next narrative.


The early settlers of Kodi were having a hard time making a living. While the soil was rich and fertile, rainfall was erratic, and long periods of hunger plagued the first generations who opened up gardens there. A diet of root crops, corn, vegetables, and beans was not enough to fill their bellies or to give them the sense that they had eaten at all.

Pala Kawata, the giant python who lived in the highlands, decided to make the supreme sacrifice to feed the others. His own daughter, Mbiri Koni, was nearing marriageable age, but she found none of her suitors to her liking. One day he came home and told her to dress up in all of her best finery. She put ivory bracelets on her wrists, a string of colored ceramic beads above them at the forearm, a gold hamoli pendant around her neck, and wrapped herself in fine indigo textiles dyed with intricate patterns. She presented herself to her father, glowing with girlish beauty, and he led her off into the center of his garden plot to meet her new "husband."

When they arrived at the platform built to hold the rice seeds, he took out his small harvesting knife and killed her. Then he cut her body into small pieces and buried it throughout the garden. He rinsed the blood from his loincloth, wiped his knife clean, and concealed it in the folds of his waistband. He went home to his wife, without a word about what had happened.

After their daughter did not return for two or three days, her mother grew very worried. "Perhaps someone has carried her off without our permission" she said. "Perhaps she has eloped."

"No, my wife," Pala Kawata answered. "That will never happen. Your daughter may not be visible now, but she is with you in the gardens, and she will show her face after four days."

On the fourth day, the mother went out into the gardens to call her daughter. "Ooooo, Mbiri Koni, where are you?"

"Here I am, Mother," came the daughter's voice, but she was nowhere to be found. Finally, the mother went to the seed platform and called again. "Ooooo, Mbiri Koni, where are you?"

"Here I am, Mother," answered the daughter's voice, "don't you recognize me? The mother turned in confusion to her husband, who told her: "Your daughter's body has returned to us in the small green sprouts that you see just breaking out of the ground at your feet. Her ivory


bracelets have returned in the white tubers at the side of the garden, her ceramic beads in the beans, her gold pendant in the corn ears beside the rice. She has been transformed into the garden crops to save us all from hunger."

Her mother was so distraught she refused to eat any of the new crop. She became the old woman who guards the upright stone at the entrance to each garden plot [waricoyo ela watu kareke ] and stayed in the garden with her daughter. Each year, when the rice seeds are planted, we say that Mbiri Koni has died and her mother goes into mourning for her.

We, the Sea Worm Priests, are also in mourning—we follow the rules of kabukuto kalalu , we sit in silence and brood. We wait throughout the bitter months, and do not allow anyone to beat the gongs or disturb the young crop. Then, when the rice crop is tall and golden and full [pa ihi ; lit., "pregnant"], we hold the sacrifices to allow the harvest to happen. Once the sacrifices are done, the month is bland [kaba ] and the crops can be eaten.

Narrated by Ra Ndengi, Rato Nale, Bukubani

Different versions of this story play on the changing identity of the "knife" and the person who wields it. In one, the girl meets a handsome young man, Rato Malogho, who is in fact a field rat. She marries him and becomes pregnant by him, but when he tries to take her home to his village under the ground, she cannot fit through the hole. He kills her and drags her body in piece by piece. Once she is completely underground, she remains there for four days before being reincarnated in the form of the rice crop. In another, Mbiri Koni is sacrificed by her brothers and sisters who migrated to the island with her, but her erstwhile suitor is so saddened that he chooses to become a field rat in order to join her underground.

In all these versions, the fate of Mbiri Koni clearly parallels the fate of Inya Nale, the foreign beauty whose body was transformed into the sea worms. Each is a bride whose body is dismembered and transformed to create a resource needed by the whole region. The "gift of a woman" in marriage is thwarted, but a symbolic equivalent—the source of fertility and vitality—is substituted.

In the following pivotal text, we learn of the consensus agreement that leads to the regulating of the harvest by the priests of the sea worms.


When the leaders of Kodi gathered to divide up the lands and the various ritual tasks, they did so by using the divinatory powers of objects. Four ritual objects were brought to this meeting to make the selection: the


kule game with eight holes, the buke stakes and darts, the kadiyo top made of buffalo horn, and the kalayo discus. These were all divination tools which the first ancestors brought with them from Sasar.

Representatives of each of the ancestral villages played each other in the traditional children's games:

They played the kule board with eight

A kolekongo kule pando pato

They won the buke game with four

A talerongo buke pato ghaiyo

Throwing the top of buffalo horn

Watani a kadiyo kadu kari

Tossing the discus of round seed

Watani a kaleiyo mbombo

To set up interdictions in the groves

Tana roto waingo hemba

To establish taboos in the village

Tana weri waingo napu

With the spear of planting

Mono dikya a tonda nambu

With the wrapped land and stones

A kambolo tana, kambolo watu

Mangilo and Pokilo defeated all the others, easily smashing their opponents' tops and outdoing them in contests of skill and strategy. This established their right to serve as the "mother-father" figures of the region.

There was then a division of power between the two brothers based on birth order. Mangilo, the older one, was told:

You guard the immovable urn

Yo na daghi a ngguhi nja pa dadango

You watch the plate that can't be

Yo na kandi a pengga nja pa keketo

The hen who broods over her eggs

Bei myanu na kabukutongo taluna

The sow who calls to her young

Bei wyawi na karekongo anana

Hold onto the knots in dewang
leaves, the knots of pandanus

Kete bandikya ha kawuku mboro, ha
     kawuku panda

To count the years in the sea worm

Tanaka ghipo ndoyo ela tana nale

To measure months in the bitter land

Tanaka baghe wulla ela tana padu

Holding the sacred trough

Ketengo a rabba rica

Grasping the wooden trap

Ketengo a keko nalo

Given the most sacred of the ancestral heirlooms, Mangilo retired into relative seclusion. He served as the guardian of the calendar and the yearly seasonal cycle, but took no active part in enforcing the rules that he established.

Through his calculations, the times of planting and harvesting were controlled and agricultural activities were coordinated throughout the


region. No one could hold feasts once the preparations of the gardens had begun, and none of the tender young plants could be picked before they reached maturity. Rato Mangilo received the lightning stones used to direct lightning bolts at offenders of these prohibitions, and promised to remain in strict confinement in the months preceding the coming of the sea worms.

Rato Mangilo then named the twelve months of the Kodi calendar [see table 1]:

The first month of preparations before the sea worms came was called [1] Nale Kiyo, and it was during this month that he performed sacrifices to make the tree crops of pinang and coconut ready for the harvest [kaba wei kapoke ; lit., "bland waters on the sprouts," since water from the sacred urn was poured on them]. The month of the worms' arrival was called [2] Nale Bokolo, and it was when the pasola combat was staged. It was preceded by offerings of betel nut on the tombs of one's ancestors [hengapungo ] and followed by the sacrifice of a chicken in each lineage house [tunu manu nale ]. Then came [3] Nale Wallu, for the "remaining" [wallu ] worms of the second swarming. [4] Bali Mboka, the "return of small buds," marked the beginning of the harvest season, followed by [5] Katota Lalo, the "small red flowers" of a common bush, and [6] Katoto Bokolo, the "large red flowers." Feasting on a large scale was not supposed to begin until [7] Rena Kiyo, the preparations for celebrations, then [8] Rena Bokolo, the larger celebrations. Feasting could continue through the period called [9] Padu Lamboya, but had to stop once the priests had performed the sacrifices necessary to start the Kodi "bitter months," or [10] Padu Kodi. Silence had to be observed throughout [11] Habu, the "nesting" [habu ] season for birds, and [12] Mangata, the month when the white flowers of the mangata bush were visible.

His younger brother Pokilo received a fast-traveling horse [ndara halato ] and was given the task of patrolling the area to guard against theft or trespassing onto another man's gardens. He was told:

You are the horse with the upright

Yo a ndara ndende kiku

You are the dog with the black tongue

Yo a bangga mete lama

Who roams past the posts in the

Na halato kataku loda

Crossing through the fields

Na doda marada

Who roams past the posts in the area

Na halato kataku pada

Parting the elephant grass

Na pepe kapumbu

Seeing the crossed boundaries

Na haranga manumbu likye

Seeing the gardens that stretch too far

Na haranga mangora mango

His was the task of roaming through dangerous border territories, mediating between litigious parties, and leading war parties, if necessary,


Table 1. The Kodi Months and Agricultural Calendar



Hunting and Fishing



Nale Kiyo


Octopus collected at low tide

First corn crop matures
Coconut and pinang

Kaba wei kapoke: "bland young shoots of pinang and coconut"
Kaba wataro : corn made bland


"small seaworms"

Nale Bokolo

Heaviest rains and wind

Sea worms swarm along the beaches


Nale festivities
Pasola jousting


"large seaworms"


Nale Wallu


"leftover worms"


Bali Mbyoka

Thunder, cold winds

Ipu fish swarm in the bay


"return to growth"


Rena Kiyo

End of rains
Dry season mara tana

Mice hunted in the fields

Rice crop matures and is harvested
Second corn crop matures

Kahale kaba pare : harvest rites to make rice bland and edible


"small blossoms"

Rena Bokolo


Wild pigs and monkeys hunted in the forest


Yaigho singing ceremonies
Dari Uma house building


"great blossoms"


(Table continued on next page)


(Table continued from previous page)

Table 1. The Kodi Months and Agricultural Calendar



Hunting and Fishing



Katoto Waharongo


Tubers, beans, vegetables

Woleko buffalo feasts
Gharu Watu stone dragging


"cottonwood blossoms"


Nduka Katoto

Burning fields before the first rains


Mangoes, papayas, diverse fruit

Largest-scale feasts and celebrations


"full cottonwood flowers"


Padu Lamboya

Beginning of the hunger season wulla malamba


Padu planting prohibitions


"Lamboya bitter month"


Padu Kodi

First trains of the wet season (righuto )


Planting rice, corn
Weeding fields, planting other garden crops


"Kodi bitter month"



Heavier rainfall


Intensive work in the gardens


"bird's nest"




Period of ritual silence: the "bitter months"


"flowering white shrub"


against invading groups. He was the "master of force" whose powers counterbalanced the elder "master of time."

Then they divided up into separate villages. Each man of importance was told to establish his own village so that they would have enough villages to intermarry. The villages took the name of the site they occupied, and the tree which served as their altar. The lara marapu , or "path of the ancestors" recited in each village, began with Temba and Raghe, the founders of the land, and then went on to name those who dug the first pillar holes and put together the foundation stones at each village site. The indigenous spirits of the earth [tagheghe mori lyodo, wondo mori pyada , "forest fowl lord of the region, megapode lord of the area"] also received invocations and sacrifices, as did the deputy hamlet deity [inya mangu tana, bapa mangu loko ] in the gardens.

There were twenty-four villages formed from the "trunk of Kodi" (Pola Kodi), and seventeen on the other side of the embankment (Mbali Hangali). All of these villages come together now to sacrifice chickens to the sea worms and offer the first fruits of the harvest to Toda.

Narrated by Ra Holo, Rato Nale, Tossi

This version of the central narrative of the division of powers and the establishment of the calendar was obtained from a 1980 interview with both the Rato Nale of Tossi and a retired Kodi minister, Pendita Ndoda, who was descended from the Sea Worm House and helped with translations and transcriptions. It is the closest thing to a "charter" in the Malinowskian (1954) sense for the Kodi ceremonial order as it exists today. Parts of this narrative may be strongly contested, however, and there are many different interpretations of its relevance to present action.

The most widely known and quoted part of this narrative is the division of power between Rato Mangilo and Rato Pokilo. These couplets provided the first model of a diarchic divide, which was then repeated, in subtly different ways, in a number of other areas. The Kodi assertion that it provided an "unchanging template" is at least partly supported by the fact that the only previous recording of the narrative, by Onvlee and Kapita in 1932, cites the couplets in almost exactly the same form as I heard them in 1980, even though the wider political situation was quite different at that time. A consensus that Tossi had the role of ceremonial leader because of its control of the calendar remains, along with ideas that Bondo Kodi has access to rain magic and Toda receives the first fruits of the harvest. All other ancestral villages are the ari ana , or "younger siblings and children" of these founding villages and trace their ancestry to their founding figures.

Beyond this core template, however, interpretations of the events that


occurred at this distant meeting vary widely. The first alternate interpretation that I will develop emerges from the background to Onvlee and Kapita's visit to Kodi in 1932, and illustrates what was at stake in manipulating versions of the ancestral agreement. The Kodi transcripts of texts recorded by Onvlee and Kapita include a version of this story, narrated by Haghe Tyena of Mete and Rehi Kyaka Ndari of Tossi, that repeats the peace pact between Kodi and Bukambero established with the transfer of the breastplate and adds that the first gardens were made at Kule Ndako. These tellers also said that Temba and Raghe brought sacred stones with them from their homeland to the west, which they used to consecrate the land and make it "bland" (pakabaya ) enough to cultivate (Onvlee and Kapita 1932).

The interview was dominated by Raja Ndera Wulla, the district ruler at the time, who summoned the two storytellers to give their account, but "insisted on speaking first while all others remained silent" saying that he had invited the others "to confirm his accounts, in case there were suspicions that he had made misleading statements" (Onvlee 1973, 57). The primacy of Tossi had to be stressed in his presence, and ambiguities about its position played down. The raja finished the interview with an invocation of his ancestor, Rato Pokilo, and an assertion that "I was given the land of Kodi from the beginning of the earth and stones, and if I now command, it did not begin when I first held the Raja's staff, but because Pokilo and his descendants have always been those who commanded from the time of our ancestors and forefathers" (Onvlee 1973, 59).

In a later recollection of the 1932 visit, Onvlee reports that Haghe Tena came to see him privately in Waikabubak and "presented a story in which the relationships were rather differently represented" (Onvlee 1973, 59). Mangilo and Pokilo received the sea worms and their ritual offices as a gift from Temba and Raghe, who sought them out as companions in order to defend themselves against enemy attack. Mete was the oldest village and the real "elder brother," whose authority was based on the "unopened land and the round stones" (mboka tana, mbolo watu ), while Mangilo and Pokilo were just boys who received these important ritual offices without knowing what to do with them. Haghe Tena described them as "locusts scampering on cassava leaves, bats balancing on banana leaves" (papa enggena kabala rou katete, pa pandeta panighe rou kalogho ), meaning, as Onvlee (1973, 60) says, "they did not have themselves to thank for the good place that they currently occupied."

Reinterpreting this account with the benefit of hindsight, I would classify it within the same trope as the Bukambero story. We have, on the one hand, a group that maintains its prior rights to the worms as a source


of traditional authority, and on the other, a group that stresses the significance of the transfer while implying that the first site was unworthy. During my own fieldwork, tensions between Tossi and Mete were muted, presumably in part because Tossi was no longer the center of district government. But I did record a narrative about how the people of Tossi tricked the people of Mete into abandoning their original village site and moving a short distance to the north. The source of this story, however, was not Mete, but another faction within Tossi: the storyteller was himself a descendant of Rato Mangilo and told the tale as an example of the cleverness of his ancestors, who used their superior ritual position to appropriate the most sacred village site in the area.


The place where Tossi is now located once belonged to Mete. It is the oldest village site in Kodi and was founded by Temba, who built the first villages, and Raghe, who owned the land. Tossi was originally located to the north of them, and it was founded by Mangilo and Pokilo.

One day, as he took his horse to the pasola , Rato Mangilo rode past Mete and began to think: "Here we are, the guardians of the most sacred objects in the land, but we do not have the best village site. It would be much better if we were right at the edge of the pasola field, so as soon as we untied our horses we would be ready to ride out to receive the sea worms." He thought and thought, but found no solution. So he told Rato Pokilo to call Lete Watu.

Rato Mangilo told him: "I want you to figure out a way for us to change places with Mete, so they won't be closer than us to the field."

Lete Watu answered: "If you want to exchange villages, first go to a feast and tell them not to give any meat or rice to the people from Mete. When they ask why they haven't received their share, tell them that it has been a long time since they held a feast. Goad them into agreeing to feed the others, because once they hold a feast in their own village, we can outwit them and take over their village site."

Embarrassed by what they heard at the feast, Temba and Raghe of Mete planned a two-day feast [woleko ]. They invited people from Kodi, Bangedo, Bukambero, and Karendi. Lete Watu built a platform outside the village gates to receive them, so they wouldn't enter the village. They all received food and betel at the gates and then settled down to sleep. Lete Watu called over four or five people and told them to take the swords of the Karendi and Bukambero people and stab all the pigs, horses, and buffalo. After killing the animals, they put the swords back in their scabbards and did not wipe off the blood.


The next day, the guests were horrified to see that all the animals were already dead and rotting, and Temba and Raghe were deeply embarrassed. They called out, "Stop the dancing, stop the slaughter. What has happened here? Who killed all these animals?" Their bodies were so numerous they couldn't be counted. Everyone gathered together and members of each region were asked. "No, we didn't do it," they all answered. They called Lete Watu to the village gates, and he suggested that they look at people's swords to see if they bore traces of blood. They looked at the swords of Kodi, Bangedo, and Balaghar and found no blood. They looked at the swords from Karendi and Bukambero, and they were full of blood. The people of Karendi and Bukambero were ashamed and ran away to settle at the farthest ends of the domain.

Then Lete Watu said, "This feast was a failure. There must be a curse on this village site:

It is as if there were

Hengyo ailyoloka ba nengyo

Mice under the heirloom Savunese

Loti kyambu ndunga haghu

Tickling the body hairs of the nobles

Wulu heghu ratu

It is as if there were

Hengyo ailyololoka ba nengyo

Termites in the pillar rings and

Wano kamba lele

Wood pests in the house posts

Kambilya pungu pongga

The village site is no good. If there is anyone else who would agree to come here, I would advise you to trade with them."

At this point, Rato Mangilo said: "Perhaps we are the ones who should help you out, since we are the mother-father village, the mother of the water jar and the father of the moon net. If you wish, I promise to drag the funeral stone that we have prepared for Temba until it stands by the former site of Tossi. And we will cut down the great tree of Tossi that stands by our house and replant its sprouts at our own new village site down here."

So they agreed, and the two villages changed their sites, with Temba moving back, away from the pasola field, and Tossi moving down. They sacrificed a buffalo and pig to establish themselves in the new location and banish the curse that afflicted the site. Mangilo brought the sacred water jar and the moon net and made his new home the place

Of the sacred priest who sits

Hola pyondi rato bihya

Counting out the years

Na ghipo a ndoyo

Of the ancient water jar

Hola habelia tana ndongo

Measuring the months

Na baghe a wulla


In the pastures to tie the horses

La marada pangu ndara

By the bay to bind the ships

La menanga horo tena.

Narrated by Ra Katupu, Tossi, Pola Kodi

This narrative accounts for two things: the estrangement and isolation of two peoples who intermarried with the indigenous peoples of the area, the people of Bukambero and Karendi; and the displacement of Mete at the oldest village site. In both cases, it celebrates the triumph of crafty newcomers over earlier inhabitants.

The narrative told in Tossi about the acquisition of the sea worms does not refer to a change in village sites. The location of the Kawango Wulla, or "Moon's Banyan" is assumed to be unchanging. It now stands near the present village gates, at the entrance to the pasola field, about two hundred feet from the beach. If the waves once washed up at its roots and deposited sea worms there, marking the spot on which the village was to be constructed, one wonders why Mangilo and Pokilo first chose to build their houses farther inland. Ra Katupu, the narrator of this version, reconciled it with the story told by the Rato Nale by saying that "Mangilo and Pokilo were young boys when they first came, and still ignorant. Once they grew up, they saw that Temba and Raghe had a better location, and so they decided they wanted it."

Contradictory assertions about the centralization of Tossi's power, said to be unmoving yet at the same time continually tested and reaffirmed, emerge in the events of the early twentieth century (see chapter 4). Before the colonial period, such assertions cannot be directly associated with remembered history, but political processes contesting Tossi's position through often conflicting interpretations have left traces in narratives such as this one. The emphasis on trickery and guile is much less evident in the next narrative, which details the agreement to extend the calendrical system beyond the Greater Kodi valley to the distant region of Balaghar.


Many years after the first settlement of Kodi, the population filled the territories of Kabihu Pola Kodi and Kabihu Mbali Hangali, so people moved across the river into the valley of Bangedo and even farther across an estuary into Balaghar. Since they were still descended from the original founders, they still had to travel back to Tossi and Bukubani for the calendrical rites.

One day, Pyunggero, from the village of Wainjolo Wawa in Balaghar, asked for a meeting with the elders of Tossi. Rato Mangilo and Rato


Pokilo, now old men, attended, as well as Temba and Raghe, Ra Hupu, and many others. Pyunggero stood to make a speech;

I ask permission to tell you, Mangilo

Di moka diyo, henene, Mangilo

That although we strike to the same

Mono ba na hama douka a tuku

And row to the same rhythm

Mono ba na mera douka a bohe

As our older brothers who establish

Ghagha a kapada mburu weri

And make offerings to the sea worms

Ghagha a katende ngara nale

We beg you to consider the fact that

Pa we kimi ngara yama

At nale we cross the river

Nduka nale mono dowa kiyo loko

At padu we ford the bay

Nduka padu mono palu menanga

To gather all in one granary

A kambango mangoto

Bringing hale chickens to mother

Ngandi manu nale la kaha inya

At the net of heirloom valuables

Ela kareco londo laka

To assemble in one rice sack

A lepeto makaha

Bringing padu chickens to father

Ngandi manu padu la kaha bapa

By the ancient water jar

Ela pandalu ndunga haghu

Give a twig of the sacred branch to

Wo kini ana kahanga bihya

The children of the ship at Wei Lyala

Tangguna ana tena wei lyala

Give a piece of the taboo stone to

Wo kini ana watu mburi weri

The children of the village of

Tangguna ana wei nyapu

He was asking the officials of Tossi and Bukubani to delegate their powers to people in Balaghar, who would serve as lower-ranking ritual officers but would be able to preside over their own ceremonial calendar. If they agreed, there would be a division of territories expressed as a separation of the food served at feasts, which would henceforth be "meat cut up separately, rice heaped in a new plate" [ropini kabiyo, hanggani ngagha ].

Rato Mangilo and the elders of the main ritual villages in Pola Kodi considered this request, but said that it would be necessary to test the leaders of each of the villagers in Balaghar, as they had been tested themselves, to see who was capable of controlling the calendar:

So that we can know who is able to

Tana peghe nggama ngara na tutu a

Hold up the taboos on the land

Ketengo a kapada mburu weri

And the offerings to the sea worms

Mono a katende ngara hale

Let us cast ropes on the headrest

Tanaka ta magholo la luna baka

So that we will recognize the one who

Tana tandi nggama ngara na tutu a


Can make rice and water bland again

Ketengo a kaba weiyo, kaba ngagha

Let us have a divination at the pillar

Tanaka ta urata la pongga baka

The method of divination that was required for this occasion, however, was not the usual interrogation with a spear or reading of animal entrails, but once again the playing of children's games, which combine elements of skill and chance to determine the best candidates.

So a competition was held, first with the kule board and the buke darts. The representatives from Balaghar played against the officeholders in Tossi. Rato Mangilo played kule against Lere Ura, from Waingyali, the oldest village in Balaghar. If Rato Mangilo had won, it would have been a sign that the spirits of the heirloom objects concerned—the holy branch and sacred bough, the ancient water jar and the net of valuables—were not in agreement and could not be moved. But Lere Ura won, taking all of Rato Mangilo's seeds. Pyunggero played buke against Rato Pokilo, and defeated him.

The people of Tossi called for a rematch, this time with the tops and discus [kadiyo, kalayo ]. The new series was played by Lete Watu, from the village of Wainjoko, and Rato Jadi, from Kaha Malagho. Once again, the challengers won—but they won a victory that was divided between two players, rather than a simple conquest on all fronts. So the sacred prerogatives of Rato Mangilo to control the annual calendar and the agricultural rites were divided between two villages in Balaghar—Wein-gyali for the nale offerings, and Kaha Malagho for the padu offerings. Likewise, the powers of Rato Pokilo to control the borders and control the rains were divided between Wainjolo Wawa and Wainjoko.

Lere Ura from Waingyali received a small trough to hold the sea worms and a trap to scoop them up, just like the ones that Lendu had brought from overseas and given in turn to Mangilo. Rato Jadi of Kaha Malagho received a twig from the sacred kapok tree (Wei Marongo Ra-ra), which stood by a source in Tossi, where offerings were placed to begin the ritual silence of padu . Rato Pyunggero received a fast-traveling horse [ndara halato ], of the same descent line as the one used by Rato Pokilo, which he could use to patrol the region and enforce land boundaries. Lete Watu received a bamboo tube used to ask for rain [onggolo ura ]. All of these objects were brought back to Balaghar, and feasts were held to consecrate them in their new home.

Narrated by Maru Daku, Wainjolo Wawa, Balaghar

This text legitimates the transfer of the sea worms to a new region by "summarizing" events from many of the earlier narratives, especially text #5, and placing them in a new context. Perhaps because of its skill in


borrowing elements from the familiar stories of the founding of Kodi, this narrative provoked the suspicion of various local people who listened to it on tape. Their ambivalence may reflect an uneasiness about the legitimacy of the Balaghar rites. Despite the acknowledgment that the source of their calendrical ritual was the older "trunk of Kodi" many people in Greater Kodi dismiss the smaller nale rites held in Balaghar as insignificant, asserting that nothing of importance was transferred.

The villages of Balaghar were the most remote in all Kodi for most of this century, since no road reached them until 1988. As a result, this most recently settled region remained a bastion of tradition, where less than a fifth of the population had converted to Christianity. The calendrical rites of Balaghar, though they are derivative in terms of the mythical mandate, are performed with very full participation of the population and a passionate involvement, which contrasts with the more desultory performances in Tossi, now a village of many converts and extensive contacts with schools and government agencies. It is precisely because of the continuing importance of ancestral rites in Balaghar that many people suspected this detailed narrative was an "invention of tradition"—a bit too finely wrought to be genuine.

The narrative was collected from one of my finest informants, Maru Daku, who was among the first Kodi converts to Christianity in the 1920s but then returned to traditional worship late in his life (Hoskins 1985). Although he was recognized as one of the best ritual speakers in the region and a skilled compiler of ancestral lore, he also provoked mistrust and criticism. As someone who had been a practitioner in both systems, the Christian and the pagan, he was said to have been punished by his ancestral spirits and the Christian God for "worshipping two sets of gods"; this charge diminished his credibility in reciting the most sacred stories. His gift for rhetorical flourishes was seen as "adding too many spices to the stew" and thus concealing the basic flavor and consistency of their original form.

Since each time a story is narrated it takes a slightly different form, Maru Daku's critics may simply have been accusing him of being too effective at his task of providing coherence. "He has been studying our own stories,' they said, "and so he knew what to put in his account to make it sound good." Maru Daku answered his critics with the physical evidence referred to in the narrative: the sea worm trough in Weingyali, the sacred banyan in Kaha Malagho, the bamboo tube in Weinjoko. A narrative attached to an object can be proved true if the object is efficacious. Few other challenges were mounted.


Problems of Legitimacy, Authenticity, and Hierarchy

Consideration of these seven texts opens up numerous questions about the bases of ceremonial authority in narrative. Almost all of the texts contain, in some form, a trope embracing a tension between an earlier owner of a sacred object or site and a later one. The earlier owner can claim primacy, the later can try to show that he has achieved control. All of these narratives speak of how Kodinese ancestors have gradually gained a certain mastery of their surroundings through a social consensus about the proper use of objects with magical properties.

This transfer of power involves one of two processes: delegation by an older authority to a younger executor or usurpation through trickery. The first stresses genealogical priority and ascribed position, the second individual action and achieved rank. Often, the difference between the two is a matter of interpretation: Thus, the descendants of Temba and Raghe say that they gave the sea worms to Tossi out of generosity and a desire to help two orphaned boys. The descendants of Tossi, by contrast, say that they deserved the gift because of their superior skills in games, which allowed them to trick their benefactor into giving them even the site of his own village. The people of Bukambero, for their part, say that they originally acquired the sea worms but knew they should pass them on to people who lived closer to the beach. And the people of the coastal villages maintain that they were always the rightful owners, so their use of false accusations to drive out the earlier inhabitants was justified by hierarchical privilege.

The differences between the two modes reflects the variety of interacting oppositions that constitute hierarchy. The locus of authority is opposed to the locus of action, and the production of asymmetries of power emerges as "not a principle but an outcome, the result of the application of several principles" (Fox 1989, 52). The "order of precedence" produced by the calendar thus comprises heterogeneous components, which include genealogy, spatial location, personal qualities of skill or bravery, and fortuitous circumstances. Power is conceived not as a single entity but as something that is immanent in a plurality of existing social relations (Foucault 1978).

Power is transferred in these narratives by means of three specific devices: descent (reckoned through persons, places, or objects), game playing, and offerings to obtain the fertility of the land. Descent is established either by the birth of the ancestor within a particular line or by the breaking apart of a whole object into parts that can be moved. Breaking off a sapling from the great tree at Tossi and planting it in Balaghar, for


instance, establishes a plant line of descent, which substitutes for the absence of a human line of succession. The part is always less than the whole, however, and the transfer is thus of a diminished and subservient power. When descent is the criterion of transfer, an accompanying idea of devolution, of a lessening of status as one moves away from the source, is implied.

Such is not the case with things acquired through games and contests. Playing at tops and discus, the kule board and the buke darts, is a very serious business. In the ritual formulas still pronounced today, priests say they are only children who "hold the top's string, grasp the discus's net." They evoke children's games to protest their innocence and inexperience in relation to the ancestors, but also to remind their listeners of the primordial contest in which their ancestors emerged victorious. The theme of "playing" at ritual is related to the idea that the process of acquiring ritually charged objects is also part of the human process of learning and maturation. Mangilo and Pokilo, the ancestors of present-day calendrical priests, appear first as small children, tempted by the sea worms as playthings but not yet responsible enough to control them. They must first find the proper site for their village, then prove themselves through games. Once they have achieved the maturity to serve as the masters of time and of force, they agree to pass on some of their ritual prerogatives to junior deputies—-but only in a divided and diminished form.

As the proper locations are sought and the proper intervals established, the need for rain and new crops arises. In several cases, the "proof" that one's ancestors had legitimate control of a certain territory is established by a ritual demonstration that rain can be obtained to nourish the land. The art of rainmaking is hardly a trivial one in a land as parched and prone to drought as Kodi. Rain is associated with disruptive, rebellious ancestral figures: Ra Hupu, Lete Watu, Rato Bokokoro—a thieving fisherman, a playful trickster, an easily duped guardian.

The power of the rainmaker is at the opposite pole from the power of the lawgiver, in a relationship similar to the elder brother/younger brother polarity that binds Mangilo and Pokilo. It provides the basis for the ritual cooperation of older source villages—the locus of authority—and younger peripheral villages—the locus of action. Rainmaking is represented as a violent assault on the heavenly kingdom, which explains why in mythic accounts it is associated with warfare and headhunting. The control of seasonal rains, thunder, and lightning is invested in stable, unmoving ritual authorities, whereas the disruption of these powers is a necessary infusion of energy associated with the young, mobile manipulators.

Time within the mythic narratives is constructed in relation to temporal


sequences in the annual cycle of ceremonies. It is a common theme throughout Southeast Asia that a period of mourning is ended with a celebration of the renewal of life. Both Nyale and Mbiri Koni are female sacrificial victims whose bodies are transformed into food. Since the harvest of the sea worms anticipates the harvest of rice, Nyale's reincarnation precedes Mbiri Kohl's; indeed, the spectacle of many-colored sea worms actually depicts the abundance of the harvest in iconic form.

Although the past is given great value, simple priority in time is not enough to assure hierarchical supremacy. An analysis of these narratives shows that no one single principle is dominant; rather, several principles must be used in combination. The "order of precedence" that finally emerges bears the traces of past conflicts and negotiations, which are not totally obscured in an idealized collective past.

Different Tellings of the Tales: Historicizing These Narratives

In my opening remarks, I noted that the narratives are composed of a mixture of prose and poetic couplets. Most of the action happens in the prose sections, as well as all of the conniving, scheming, and trickery. The couplets in verse represent primordial statements, "contracts" that supposedly have been passed down, unaltered, from one generation to the next. Examining the records we have of the tellings of these narratives, we find this claim to be justified to a certain extent, but it also becomes clear that the continuity of the literal form of a traditional couplet is quite separate from the continuity of its interpretations.

Since there are no occasions on which all of these narratives are brought together to be performed, compared, or heard, their general consistency is impressive. Despite minor differences, members of all villages agree that Tossi was the ceremonial center and that the most powerful objects were stored in certain ancestral houses, though they may have followed a long and circuitous route to reach them. I suspect that the reasons for the generally high degree of consistency lie in the fact that the Kodinese are very interested in their own history and enjoy discussing and comparing stories.

Conclusions about the current political position that are drawn from these stories, however, vary widely, for the narratives are themselves involved in historical processes and reshaped by them. It is, for example, interesting to compare the views of Kodi's past as recorded by Onvlee and Kapita in 1932, by Van Wouden in 1951-52, and by myself in 1980. Three of the seven narratives in this chapter (nos. 2, 3, and 5) were also recorded,


in clearly recognizable form, by Onvlee and Kapita; they deal with the settlement of the region, the exile of Ra Hupu, and the division of tasks in Tossi. The couplet sections that detail the division of tasks between Rato Mangilo and Rato Pokilo appear almost verbatim in their transcriptions· Although the 1932 texts are somewhat more disjointed than the ones I was given—briefer, choppier, less detailed—this may be because I told my informants I would try to construct a longer, continuous political history from the stories they shared with me. In soliciting the narratives I specifically asked about relations to other stories I had heard, requesting that the narrator make these explicit. My texts were recorded on tape, which allowed the narrator to speak at his usual rhythm without having to pause while words were transcribed. In practice, however, narrators often paused after speaking to repeat the verse passages, checking that I got them right because of their greater importance.

Van Wouden's account of his stay in Kodi does not include texts, but it has many references to the political order and ancestral precedents.[5] He was told that Mahemba, Pawungo, and Balaghar, the three kabihu of Kodi Bangedo, were all equal and "each of them separately performs the nale ritual," but in Kodi Bokol the villages of Mbali Hangali were superior to those of Pola Kodi. Bukambero had a controversial status. Some people described its inhabitants as "unimportant people who retreated into the hills;' while others said it was "a venerable kabihu from Sasar" (Van Wouden [1956] 1977, 5).

Within Mbali Hangali, Van Wouden describes a division between two halves, also called kabihu , of which one, Bukubani, is associated with "religion" and the other, Barada, is associated with adat , or "custom": "The ancestral house of the first section is called the office for religious affairs, that of the second is the office for customary law." He continues: "The meaning of religion for Bukubani is clear· In the first place it refers to the celebration of the nale ritual. The most important functions of the adat are the determination of the calendar and the ordering of the seasons. Furthermore, Barada was seen as the meeting place of all Kodi Bokol. . . It may be noted that the sections of the two halves of Kodi Bokol intermarry" (Van Wouden [1956] 1977, 6). The passage is obviously a version of the division of power between Rato Mangilo and Rato Pokilo, and reflects the fact that within Tossi there is a division between Tossi

[5] In my discussion of Van Wouden's article, I have adopted his spellings of Kodi names to be the same as my own to avoid confusion. For the record, he wrote Bukambero as Buka Mbero, Bukubani as Buka Bani. I have followed the spellings currently used by government officials and the literate inhabitants of these areas, although it is reasonable to assume that the names were once binomials.


Bukubani (descendants of Rato Mangilo) and Tossi Barada (descendants of Rato Pokilo).

When I discussed these passages with Kodi informants in the 1980s, however, they were unanimous in denying (1) that nale rites had ever been conducted in Pawungo and Mahemba and (2) that the division of Bukubani and Barada existed outside of Tossi itself. The supposed "superiority" of Mbali Hangali could be interpreted as the superiority of Tossi as a ceremonial center, but it did not imply inequality between the peoples of the other villages of Pola Kodi and Mbali Hangali. Bukubani and Barada are the two "halves" of Tossi, representing the descendants of two founding brothers whose progeny can now intermarry. While they are descent groups, not kabihu , they do represent a complicated ritual division of powers (see chapter 4 for further discussion of later developments). These errors on Van Wouden's part were linked, I believe, to the political situation in Kodi in 1951-52 and possibly reflected misunderstandings of the facts as they were presented by local informants.

Van Wouden had great skills as an ethnographer and insight into Eastern Indonesian social formations, but he came as the guest of the current district administrator, Hermanus Rangga Horo, and stayed in his house. Horo, who continued in his position after serving as the third raja during the brief Dutch return to power in the late 1940s, came from the region of Bangedo. During the period of his administration, a small pasola had been performed in the grasslands between his ancestral village of Rangga Baki and Ratenggaro. The performance was a display of his power and influence, but it was not linked to offerings at a separate nale house or to any independent ritual control of time or the calendar.

Despite Van Wouden's position as a guest and the fact that he stayed only two months, his article is extremely valuable. It is not surprising, however, that he accepted an interpretation of the Kodi polity that, consistent with the aspirations of his host, emphasized the ceremonial independence of Horo's homeland Bangedo and did not acknowledge the priority of Tossi or its links to a large number of external, even foreign sources of power—the distant lands of Java and Bima, the earlier populations of Bukambero and Karenali, the competitive structure of neighboring regions. Van Wouden's ([1956] 1977, 19) conclusions about the structure of the Kodi polity can be quoted to illustrate a compelling, if inaccurate, vision of a totalizing polity:

Kodi Bokol can certainly be considered a community that we could call a "tribe." It has a single nale house. There are clearly defined oppositions and an explicit division of ritual tasks between its con-


stituent parts. Both these oppositions and ritual divisions are the expression of a total unity. Virtually all marriages are contracted within the community. If the sea were to swallow all of western Sumba except for Kodi Bokol, it would leave a completely self-sustaining unit in terms of social and religious life. Only the ritual contests with Bangedo would be missing.

In fact, in the 1950s, Kodi Bokol already had a long history of marriage alliances with Endehnese visitors, borrowed heirloom objects from overseas, and wars and confederations with neighboring domains. The nale cult was itself divided between two ritual houses, in a tense balance of powers that. will be the subject of the next chapter. Even in his misunderstanding of the rather confusing assemblage of stories about the past that were presented to him in 1951-52, Van Wouden pulled out a theoretical insight of considerable force. He noted that loose ends remained for the area of Bangedo, which broke up this totalizing vision into competing claims. Turning away from his earlier view that each Eastern Indonesian society could be viewed as a "closed society with a fixed number of groups" expressing "a specific type of social structure characterized by double descent" he came to see that regional variations were "complex and encompassing historical and sociological questions" (Van Wouden [1956] 1977, 148) whose dynamics were inscribed in a wider network of relations of insiders and outsiders local traditions and foreign influences.


3 The Past in Narrative The Creation of the Calendar

Preferred Citation: Hoskins, Janet. The Play of Time: Kodi Perspectives on Calendars, History, and Exchange. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1993 1993.