The distinctive spider web shaped rice fields called “Lingko” are a legacy of traditional Manggarai culture going back thousands of years. Lingko was a way of allocating village owned lands among individual family groups or clans. Essentially, the bigger a family the more pieces of the lingko pie “moso” they were allocated to cultivate.
Even so, moso were not conceived of as private property. Traditionally, linkgo were cultivated on a rotational basis. After two or three years, lingko’s were left to fallow and the community members moved on to a new lingko.
Every element of lingko management – establishing new lingko, rotation, moso allocation, planting and harvesting – was determined by an arbitrator called a “tua batu” and carried out in accordance with traditional adat. Important occasions such as planting, harvesting or the establishment of a new lingko were marked by rituals and ceremonies carried out at the “lodok,” the centre of the lingko. Even the timing of planting was dictated by celestial observation.
Where lingko fields were once used to grow dry rice varieties intercropped with maize, tubers and leafy vegetables, government driven policy towards wet rice cultivation has gradually shifted away from lingko towards individually owned linear plots. The once common lingko rice fields are now found only in isolated pockets of the Manggarai region.
Some of the best examples can be seen from the top of a small hill behind Cara Village, roughly 17km’s to the west of Ruteng. Conveniently, it’s only about 1km north of the Trans-Flores Highway, a fairly easy walk from Cancar Village if you’re using public transport such as a bemo. Otherwise, you can take a private car or ojek right up to Cara Village. Ask any local for directions.
Before heading up to the viewing point, you need to stop in at the adat house to sign the guestbook and leave a small donation. You’re welcome to check out the ceremonial drums whilst you’re there but please don’t touch.