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  • Jana Broto

Future of Boti Culture: Will it Survive?

Photo by: Seof Neolaka ©

Revered King of Boti Died in 2006

For many decades, Boti village was led by Nune Benu, a wise and revered King who died in 2006. The people of Boti still feel great grief and deep sadness at the loss of their beloved King who was famous in the area for his deep spirituality and extraordinary wisdom.

The old King has been replaced by his son, Nama Benu. In addition, the other members of the King’s family, including his mother, hold a special place of honor in Boti culture.

During Grieving Period, Many Traditions Suspended

The grieving time for the old King has not been completed because the people of Boti in this small, poor mountain village are still mourning and also have not yet been able to save enough money to hold the King’s cremation and the ceremonies that accompany it.

According to adat (traditional) Boti rules, until the King’s cremation has been carried out, many of the core traditional practices are banned, including the playing of the gamelan at which the Boti people are skilled musicians, singing traditional songs and practicing some of the important cultural and spiritual rituals.

Because of this, the younger people are beginning to forget some aspects of the culture and a few are starting to turn away from the old beliefs. Photovoices is continuing the project in Boti with a Timor anthropologist who speaks a local language similar to that in Boti in order to understand the culture and religion on a deeper level. After the King’s cremation and when all of the traditional practices are allowed to resume, Photovoices will conduct a follow-up project to document the full cycle of Boti life and, if necessary, use the photographs and stories to help reintroduce the old ways to the younger people in Boti, a special village in a rapidly changing world.

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