Abui Tribe in Alor

members of the Abui tribe dance in Alor

In Alor there is a traditional tribe from the Abui people. Abui means “mountain” in the Abui language.  They live in Takpapa Village in Benlelang Bay on the island of Alor. Approximately 16,000 people speak the Abui language.  The tribe still actively hunts with bows and arrows and is one of the only Abui tribes continuing their traditions. The local legend tells that the Abui tribe was the founder of the oldest kingdom that ever existed in Alor.

During a liveaboard cruise, on board Coralia, through Alor we will organise a land excursion to visit the Abui people. Takpala Village is on the island of Alor a 45 minute bus ride from Kalabahi Bay. Inside Kalabahi Bay there is some world class muck dive sites.

Abui tribe traditional dance in Alor shown from the back

Traditional Dance with the Abui Tribe in Alor

Upon arrival in the village local residents doing the Lego-Lego dance will greet you.  The dance is performed around a three-tiered circular stone called mesbah.  The local legend tells that mesbah was built since prehistoric times to sacrifice human heads as the offering.

The dancers wear traditional clothing and the women leave their hair loose. At the foot of the dancers are bracelets that will make a musical sound when moved.  The dancers link together in a circle and the dance is a symbol of the strength of unity and brotherhood. They all sing while dancing and some members bang drums.

Watch the video below to see the Abui people performing the dance and other rituals.

Moko Drums and Rice Pounding

You will also witness the Abui tribe demonstrating the traditional way of pounding rice. Some members of the tribe, mostly the women, will gather around and crush the rice with long wooden poles. They all sing while they prepare the rice.

Abui tribe pounding the rice with wooden sticks in Alor

The tribe have mysterious drum like objects called Moko that they use as dowries.  Nobody really knows how the Moko came to Alor.  The Abui tribe says that they are gifts from the gods found buried in the earth.  Historians believe that the Vietnamese Dongson culture produced them. They had trade links with the Indo-Malay archipelago over 2,000 years ago.  It is also believed that later Moko were produced by Javans and Chinese and brought to Alor by traders in the 19th century.

You can also see the traditional house of the Abui tribe called Lopo House.  This Takpala house is thatched and made of bamboo.  It is designed in a pyramid-shape and supported by six pillars made of red wood.  The house consists of three floors.  The first serves as kitchen and bedroom, the second floor stores corn and the third as a warehouse.

Abui tribe Chief in Alor with Coralia Liveaboard in Indonesia
The chief of the Abui Tribe in Alor

How to visit the Abui Tribe in Alor?

Join us on board Coralia Liveaboard for a cruise through Alor to visit the beautiful and fascinating Abui Tribe. Consult our cruise schedule here, to find out on which dates we visit Alor. And in our gallery you can what Coralia’s decks and cabins looks like.

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