When I walked through the coral gates of None (no-nee), a village from the by-gone age in West Timor, Indonesia, I was immediately transported into another world. Headhunters currently live in this village much as they did 100 years ago.
Of all the places I have visited, never have I been greeted by such enthusiasm as in None. My first impression was that None was a very large village but then I realized that when the news got out there would be visitors, the residents from all of the neighboring villages came to join in the celebration. And celebrate we did!
(click on photos to enlarge)
Upon arrival, the small group I was travelling with was met with a demonstration of force, showing how the village walls were protected from the enemy back when head hunting and warring was a way of life. After much running, yelling, mock throwing of spears and shooting arrows, the warriors danced in victory. It was very impressive! It was comforting to know that the local tribes had given up head hunting some fifty years ago.
Show of force
As the warriors danced, little by little others joined in until it seemed that everyone in the village was dancing and singing.
The scene became a beehive of sound, color and movement. Color was provided largely by the Ikats (colorful hand woven blankets used as clothing) everyone wore. The villagers had chosen their best and most colorful Ikats for the celebration; some villages wore as many as five Ikats, which is a way of showing wealth or status. As things started winding down, the villagers, with interlocked arms, formed a circle around us, and for about twenty minutes they circled us, welcoming us with a hauntingly beautiful chant. The experience was so unique, almost unbelievable, I am grateful that I had a chance to have been a part of it.
Following the welcoming ceremony, we were then given a tour of the village. The traditional houses are two story grass huts called lopos. The ground level consists of one room where the cooking, eating and sleeping are done and the upper level is used for storing corn. The next area of interest was the council area. It is here, from his seat inside a huge tree, the head councilman presides over the meeting. It was here the decisions about whether or not to make war were made and if so which direction the “warpath” should take.
We visited the market area last. In an area where the usual items would be fruits and vegetables, handmade items of every kind were brought out in hopes of a sale. Of course, we were all too eager to oblige them and left with our arms full of once in a lifetime treasures.
Even though we walked away with very unique items the REAL once in a lifetime treasure was the people of None. They opened their hearts and homes to us in a way not often seen in today's world. I know my own heart was full of affection and appreciation of the hospitality as we said farewell to our new friends.