Almost every tourist who comes to Flores stops at Bena, a megalithic village in Bajawa. Bena, as it was beginning and is now still featuring the array of vertically large stones and menhirs planted 1200 years ago, tiering village like a ship, vernacular architecture of traditional houses and their unique ornaments to buffalo horn display. Here are 7 things about Bena no one tells you.
First, Inerie volcano is a sacred place
Bena village is located at the foot of the Inerie volcano. The highest (2,245 m a.s.l) and largest stratovolcano in Flores Island is located in the southern part of Bajawa City Center. Local people in Bena believe that the Inerie volcano is the throne of the Yeta god who protects their village. Inerie Volcano is a sacred place for Bena people. The phenomenon of the sacredness of the mountain is not only believed by the local people in Flores Island. Since ancient Japan era, the sacredness of the mountain has become a part of some Japanese spiritual life. The mountain worship phenomenon conducted by Japanese to generate problems concerning mountains to most Japanese.
Second, ship is a vehicle for the spirits after death
Bena is the oldest megalithic village in south east of Asia. Tiering village like a ship estimated to be exist in the last 1200 years ago. Ship is believed as a vehicle for the spirits after death. Each tier of the village is inhabited by a certain tribe. In addition to the tiering village, the other megalithic evidence preserved is the heritage of the array of vertically large stones planted named Watu Lewa and menhirs like a table named Nabe. These two megalithic stones are used for Yeta god worship and several traditional rituals of Bena local people
Third, Nga’du and Bhaga
Bena village is inhabited by 9 tribes, namely Bena, Ago, Dizi, Dizi Azi, Deru Lalulewa, Deru Solamae, Khopa, Wahto, and Ngada. The Bena people have great respect for their ancestors. The male ancestors are symbolized by Nga’du which looks like a shade tree or single-pole umbrella and roofed with palm fibre. The Nga’du pole is made of a special and hard type of wood. This pole is used to hang sacrificial animals when a traditional party is held. The female ancestor symbol resembles a miniature house called Bhaga. According to the villagers, Mount Inerie is the embodiment of mother’s rights and Mount Surulaki is the embodiment of father’s rights.
Fourth, a little doll and small house on the roof of the house
Stroll through the megalithic village of Bena and take the time to see the roofs of the houses. There are several roofs of houses decorated with a doll holding an arrow. This doll symbolizes that the house belongs to the male lineage family of the indigenous people from the Ngada Tribe. The house is decorated with miniature small houses on the roof, symbolizing that the house belongs to a lineage family of indigenous women
Fifth, vernacular traditional architecture
There are 45 traditional houses in Bena village. The village formation extends from north to south in a U-shape and has never changed its original location and authenticity of the house until nowadays. Traditional houses in Bena village applies vernacular architecture that adapts to the cold local climate, using local techniques and materials; wood, bamboo, and reeds, influenced by social, cultural and belief aspects that maintain harmony with their ancestors. There is a gazebo as a relaxing place for guests to admire and capture the beauty of the landscape of Mount Inerie and the village atmosphere with friendly local people.
Sixth, horse, elephant and Inerie on weaving cloth
Local women in Bena do not leave their weaving daily activity. Weaving is an artistic handmade. Bena and Bajawa weaving cloth are alike. Bena weaving cloth is manually patterned with picture horse and elephant then combined with a geometric pattern of dots and long curved lines similar to Mount Inerie. The decorative pattern of Bena weaving cloth displays a symbol of the wave of human life
Seventh, buffalo horns displayed in front of the house
The social status of local people in Bena is measured by the number of buffalos that are sacrificed in several traditional parties. You will find a display of buffalo horns on the front wall of the house. The more horns on display, the higher the social status of the owner of the house.