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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All Credit to Rómulo Rejón for the brilliant photos!