A Conversation with Petronela Pape

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Our fourth visit to the traditional compound of Nggela

It takes many visits before a community perceives us as being seriously committed to working with them. While the intensity of Nggela’s sacred feeling remains strong for me, this visit felt more comfortable, as though there was a greater sense of familiarity between us and the villagers. We greeted each other with friendly words and smiles. People seemed to recognize us, now, on our fourth visit.

 

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The Joka Ju Festival in Nggela

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Accepting an invitation to the annual Joka Ju ceremony in Nggela, Flores

Early July I received a text message from one of the traditional leaders in Nggela, Flores, inviting me to attend the traditional harvest ceremony, Joka Ju. I was eager to make this trip to learn more about the ceremonies of this very traditional community in central Flores. Joka Ju is a ritual that takes place every year according to the traditional calendar of Nggela. The purpose of the ceremony is to purify the village and its population having just completed an agricultural season.

 

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The Rain Cloths of Nggela, Flores

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The traditional compound of Nggela, Flores

Threads of Life staff have been visiting the village of Ngella in central Flores for over a year, learning about the village’s textile traditions and searching for weavers to work with. Looking at their photos and pictures from books, I imagined a community that still retained an intact culture with traditional houses standing side by side, each built with different structural levels depicting the realms of diety and humans in their architecture; each house with characteristics that defined the status of its occupant from the highest to the lowest class.

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