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Are These Wicked Padi Fields Proof Of Indonesian Agricultural Democracy? 


Are These Wicked Padi Fields Proof Of Indonesian Agricultural Democracy? 

Tucked away amongst the mountains of Flores, lies one of the most distinct padi fields in the whole of Asia.

The Lingko Fields, near the small town of Ruteng, Flores, are rice fields designed in the shape of a spiders web. The story behind the patterns is as interesting as the fields themselves…

The spider's web fields are known as Lingko fields and can be found in the mountains on the Indonesian island of Flores 

Rómulo Rejón

In the interest of fairness, the community divided the field in keeping with a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, even before the Portuguese claimed Flores as a colony.

Their eye-catching design is only visible from above and it is not clear whether villagers in nearby Ruteng intended for the design to look the way it does  

Rómulo Rejón

The Ruteng population are descendants of the Manggari people who came up with a peculiar system of planting rice to ensure that the fields were fairly split between the clan members.

This system is centred around the Lodok – made up of a pole held up by a rock – that sits in the middle of the swirling crops.

The fields have traditionally been divided up in an equal manner - with larger families and those of higher status having bigger paddies 

Rómulo Rejón

When requesting a new plot amongst the field, the head of the family would hold up a number of fingers towards the pole, depending on the size of his family. Lines on the Lingko fields would be drawn out accordingly.

When a new field was drawn out, a water buffalo was traditionally sacrificed to usher in good luck for the paddy's owner 

Rómulo Rejón

And thus, the incredible web-like pattern we see today developed over the centuries. It is still a mystery if the design was intended, or a beautiful bi-product of the tradition.

Photographer and engineer Romulo Rejon was perched on a small hill in Cara village when he took the stunning photographs 

Rómulo Rejón

This tradition has stood since the Manggaraian people grew dry rice, corn and tubers – long before wet-rice cultivation. During planting and harvesting time, ceremonies and ritual offerings were held at the Lodok.

Originally, the fields were used to dry grow rice and root vegetables - but are now used to wet grow rice, which is found across the whole of Indonesia 

Rómulo Rejón

The wooden pole and rock base of the Lodok are the symbols of the union between female and male, haven and earth, and the creation of humans.

The central point of the fields is known as the lodok, where there is a pole. When requesting a field, the head of a family is thought to have held up a number of fingers to the pole depending on how big his family was

Rómulo Rejón

If a new field in the Lingko was needed, the Manggaraian people would ritually sacrifice a buffalo to appease the spirit tu’a teno – The Lord of the Land.

They were laid out by the Manggarai people, who like the majority of formerly-Portuguese Flores, practise Christianity 

Rómulo Rejón

This fascinating ritual had the fairness of this agricultural community at its heart. But like all attempts at democracy, some were more equal than others. Families with a higher status could command larger patches of land.

Tourists who make it to the rural destination can pay a guide to take them around the fields and tell them about their history 

Rómulo Rejón

What is certain is this attempt at agricultural democracy has, whether intended or not, produced one of the most breathtaking padi fields in the world.

The space between the fingers was marked on the pole and lines were drawn from these two points to the outer circle of the Lingko, which determines the size of the field

Rómulo Rejón

All Credit to Rómulo Rejón for the brilliant photos!

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