Traditional Houses

Travel Guide Lesser Sunda Islands Sumbawa Bima Traditional Houses

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Introduction

There are three villages around Bima town, where one still finds traditional Bima houses, uma lengge. At Mbawa on the west side of Bima bay and at Sambori south-east of Bima the old houses are just a curiosity. The only place where uma lengge are still functional is Maria village in Wawo district. This happens to be also the place most easily visited. The other two villages lie in the hills.

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Opening Hours

Daylight hours.

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Cost

Free.

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Sights and Activities

'Uma lengge' guesthouse

'Uma lengge' guesthouse

© theo1006

Sambori village

No three-storied ume lengge have survived in Sambori. The only grass-roofed structure nowadays is a guest house built for the purpose using laminated bamboo, a modern development. Here you can spend a night under the grass roof if you like. A small bathroom outhouse is provided. Apply to the village head. Another reason for visiting Sambori are the irrigated rice fields, still very much worked the traditional way. The road to Sambori has recently been improved. Address: Sambori village, Lambitu district.

Mbawa village

Uma ncuhi, village head's house

Uma ncuhi, village head's house

© theo1006

Mbawa lies in Donggo district, named after the dou donggo (Donggo people), descendants of the original inhabitants of Sumbawa. They retreated to this mountainous area in the 17th century because they did not want to convert to Islam when the new sultan of Bima had done so.
Nowadays they are counted as Muslims or Christians (there is a Catholic church in Mbawa), but they still preserve many rituals and beliefs of their animistic religion called Marafu. Just a few traditional houses remain in Mbawa village. These are known as uma leme (pointed house) or uma ncuhi (adat chief house) and are now preserved only for attracting tourists. Address: Mbawa village, Donggo district.

Maria village

Food storage in an 'uma lengge'

Food storage in an 'uma lengge'

© theo1006

In colonial times Maria village was completely destroyed by fire. It was then decided to seperate the food storage from the living area. That is why until this day villagers store their crops in uma lengge built for the purpose in a compound on elevated ground outside the village proper. Underneath the high roof of such an uma lengge is an open floor (bale-bale) where one can sit but not stand upright. The store room is within the roof and reached by a ladder. Each family of Maria has its own uma lengge, but storing the food after harvest is a communal activity preceded by due ceremonies. The staple crop is - of course - rice, but other food is also stored in an uma lengge, like cereals, beans and spices. Once a week a family will take out the food for daily use - doing so more often is considered extravagant. The food storage area lying isolated, it needs to be guarded. Three guardians versed in fighting techniques are appointed for a three year tour of duty. They are not paid, but receive hand-outs of food.

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Getting There

By Car or Motorcycle

  • Sambori village - Sambori lies about 35 kilometres or an hour's drive from Bima. First go south to the crossing at Tetebu. Here take the new road east for three kilometres, then turn right until you approach Roka village. Turn left and drive via Kamboro and Kuta until you reach the border of Sambori. Another 2.5 kilometres and you reach the village head's house.
  • Mbawa village - At Sila, 31 kilometres from Bima on the road to Dompu, turn north and take Jalan Lintas Sangari. After 11 kilometres at the T-junction of Donggo the traditional houses of Mbawa are a kilometre to the left (downhill).
  • Maria village - At Maria village, 22 kilometres or half an hour's drive from Bima along the Sape road, turn into Gang Lengge and proceed for another two kilometres.

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Sleep

If you feel like it, you can stay a night over in an uma lengge in Sambori or Mbawa.

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This is version 8. Last edited at 10:06 on May 17, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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