Takpala Village on Alor Island

Alor Island Takpala

On a recent visit to East Nusa Tenggara, I was fortunate to have visited the Takpala Village on Alor Island, which is one of the least visited places around this region. Having little knowledge on the Alornese, this was a very interesting eye opener for me. 

Takpala Village sits in in the hills of Alor, which is around 13 kilometers from the Kalabahi district, the main area of Alor Island. The people of Takpala are also known as the Abui tribe who is also the largest of the ethnic groups on the island. 

The Abui people are also known as the mountain people. In total, there are three main traditional villages, but Takpala is one of the easiest and best to visit in Alor Island. 

Pulau Alor Takpala
The Abui tribe at the foot of the village, welcoming visitors
Visiting Takpala Village

As Alor is home to to over 40 different ethnic groups and speaking to the village headman, he said that there are over 60 languages and sub languages in Alor Island itself. That is incredible, considering how small the island is, and so many languages. 

However, on communication among themselves, they all speak one common language, which is Bahasa Indonesia. As our group was fairly large, they Abui people of Takpala had prepared a welcoming ritual at the foot of the village. 

Men and women, boys and girls were dressed in traditional Abui attire, and welcomed the group with some traditional words. Behind the headman, two other men had drums, and started to beat them as they walked uphill. 

The women danced as they led our entourage up to the entrance of the village. Once here, we could see over 30 to 40 other men and women who were waiting for us. In the background, thatched roof homes called Rumah Gedung stand majestically as a backdrop. 

Ethnic people of Alor Island
Abui warriors perform a traditional ritual as part of the welcome ceremony
Gedung means storage, and they call them store houses because this is where they store their food supplies such as rice, corn and others. 

In the middle of the village area, you see a round structure, looking like a place of ritual. This place is called the Mesbah, which is made from large stones. The Mesbah is the general communal area where meetings, dances and other important events are held by the Abui people. 

Once we were seated on bamboo chairs made for visitors, the headman called Pak Abner, started his ritual speech, welcoming us all to Takpala Village. Soon after, they started to perform the traditional dance, called the Lego Lego dance. 

This harvest dance is performed by the Abui women and men, by creating a circle around the Mesbah. Music is played by other men, while the women start moving around the Mesbah, hand in hand around each other. 

Alor Island tribe
The Lego-Lego dance performed by the Abui tribe of Alor
A rhythmic moment is observed by everyone, even the young girls who don the traditional attire. As the dance gets more intense, the Abui people move faster and faster in a circle. The women and girls have brass rings around their legs, therefore making it chime as them stomp their feet during the dance. 

Following the dance, the visitors are then invited to participate along with the locals in a merry and joyful atmosphere, but performing the same dance in a circle. 

After song and dance, photo sessions are a must. This is where you get your portrait photos of the Abui people in traditional attire. You can take their photos or even pose with them as they are extremely friendly. 

One thing you should note is that the Alornese people love to chew betel nut, hence their blood red mouths. This is a common thing practised around Alor Island and East Nusa Tenggara among the men and women. 

If you have questions about the people or the village, feel free to ask your translator to ask Pak Abner or any of the village elders. They would be glad to answer your questions. 

The Abui people are also Christians, so you will be seeing lots of crosses planted around the area. Usually indicated as markings, but I did not manage to ask why they were places along the road up and even in front of the village. 

Takpala Village Photos

Below are some random photos taken at the Takpala Village on Alor Island. I spent about two hours here, watching, talking and learning what I could about this unique tribe from Alor. 

Kids Alor Island
Abui children, some of them in traditional wear
Alor Island Ethnic Tribe
The headman and village elders at Takpala village
Takpala Village Ceremony
One of the Abui elder ladies plays a traditional drum solo
Alor traditional women
Brass rings are used for Abui women, when they dance, the rings give out chimes
Alor Island Abui Women
Abui women performing the Lego-Lego dance in Takpala Village
Takpala Village Chief
Pak Abner, the village headman strikes a warrior pose with his bow and arrow
Takpala Village Souvenirs 


At the end of the performance and photo taking, you can visit the right section of the village where you will see the local Abui women selling various local handicraft made by them. There must have been around 10 makeshift stalls to browse through. 

Items include the local dried banana seeds which are made into bracelets and necklaces, combined with wooden pendants. Another type of wooden seeds made from the Kenari tree is also unique. They look like wooden prayer beads. 

Wild boar teeth infused into jewelry are also sold at slightly higher prices. However, this is one of the local income for the Abui people, hence I bought about five necklaces and three bracelets as souvenirs. At places like these, it is often good to contribute back to the community. 

Some stalls even sell hand crafted parangs (swords) and wooden shields. For those traveling internationally, I would advise against carrying them. But then again, if you are a serious sword collector, this would be awesome for your display. 

Pulau Alor Kampung Takpala
The sign just outside Takpala Village in Alor
How to go to Takpala Village

For anyone planning to visit the Takpala village, you need to start from Kalabahi, and it takes around 30 minutes by car or van to get here. You also need to engage a guide or charter a taxi, and possible get one that speaks English, to translate. Once here, no one speaks any form of English, but Bahasa Indonesia or their local ethic language.

If you are also planning to explore the rest of the island, I have written an article about the things to do in Alor Islands for your convenience. Please note you probably need a tour guide for this. 

You can easily spend around an hour here, talking to the locals or exploring their traditional homes. On the right section of the village, the local Abui people have makeshift stalls which sell homegrown souvenirs. Some of them are pretty cool, especially the banana seed necklaces and bracelets. 

This trip was part of the 2017 Trip of Wonders by Indonesia Tourism where we explored far East of Nusa Tenggara and Raja Ampat. It was purely an adventure and dive trip which introduced us to these amazing places in Indonesia. 

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