In Langscape Magazine Articles

Tales of a Cursed Ship

December 19, 2023
Two Indigenous youths from Indonesia delve into a mysterious legend and learn important lessons about nature, culture, and spirit.

WORDS AND VIDEO Abraham Parera and Fauz Ma

Abraham and FAUZ MA with the Jong Dobo artifact.

Abraham (left) and FAUZ MA (right) with the Jong Dobo artifact. Photo: Katarina Novita Atapetu. Watch Jong Dobo (Tales of a Cursed Ship), a video of Abraham’s and FAUZ MA’s visit to see the Jong Dobo artifact. Video: Abraham Parera and FAUZ MA

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In the village of Dobo, close to Maumere in Flores Island, Indonesia, there is a mysterious artifact that was given the name Jong Dobo. The legend about the artifact and how it came to be is still told today.

Many, many years ago, a group of people left India on a sea voyage on a ship named Jong Dobo to search for fertile land. The name of the ship comes from the Sikka language, the most widely spoken language in Maumere. Jong means “boat” and dobo means “hill.” Dobo is also the name of the village in which the artifact is found today.

On their voyage, the people onboard were supposed to follow traditional law. They violated the law, however, and became cursed. They finally ended up in Dobo village in Sikka Regency, Indonesia. There, the ancestors crushed the ship into a tiny ship. This crushed ship is now the mysterious artifact found in Dobo village.

The Jong Dobo artifact.

The Jong Dobo artifact of the cursed ship is currently found near Maumere in Indonesia. Photo: FAUZ MA

Growing up, we heard so much about the tale of Jong Dobo, and we really wanted to see the artifact. And so one day we went on a journey to search for it.

Dobo village is in an area also called Dobo. Dobo is about a thirty-minute drive from Maumere, where we live. In our search for the artifact, we left early in the morning. We had to pass through several villages along the way. When we finally arrived in Dobo village, we were greeted with a gate that had a carving of the cursed ship on top of it. Engraved on the sides were words in the Sikka language: “Uhet dien dat hading,” which means, “Welcome, the door is open.”

The gate at the entrance of Dobo village

The gate at the entrance of Dobo village. Photo: FAUZ MA

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The caretaker of Jong Dobo, Tana Pu’ang Sergius Moa, welcomed our arrival and was very kind to us. Mr. Sergius was the only resource person who could give us more information about the Jong Dobo artifact and its legend.

The caretaker of Jong Dobo, Mr. Sergius.

The caretaker of Jong Dobo, Mr. Sergius (center), tells the story of the cursed ship. Photo: Katarina Novita Atapetu

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After listening to Mr. Sergius tell the tale of Jong Dobo, we immediately went to see the artifact, with Mr. Sergius as our guide. According to him, not everyone can enter this area. Sometimes visitors are permitted to see the artifact, and sometimes not. Before we could see the artifact, we needed to ask the ancestors for permission by offering betel nuts and tobacco. We also needed to perform certain rituals. After Mr. Sergius performed the ritual offering on our behalf, he allowed us to see Jong Dobo artifact and hold it.

FAUZ MA and Jong Dobo artifact.

FAUZ MA holding the Jong Dobo artifact. Photo: Katarina Novita Atapetu

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The artifact and legend of Jong Dobo have been passed down from our ancestors to teach us important values. The story teaches us to always be polite and respectful toward fellow humans, nature, and the Creator because we all need one another. We humans need nature, and we also need the Creator so that we can feel the spirit. This will help us feel love for nature, which we must care for and protect. We also need to feel passion, love, and care for other fellow human beings. This teaching is a gift that must be respected and appreciated by us, the younger generation.

We must always continue to honor our culture, traditions, and heritage and share the beauty and uniqueness of our culture.

If we young people respect our cultural traditions, such as this traditional story about Jong Dobo, we will feel respect and pride. Our ancestors left behind stories and artifacts like Jong Dobo for us. In exchange, we must protect and respect these traditions so that we pass them on to future generations. This is the reciprocity that exists in culture. Young people need to respect the traditions, such as stories and artifacts like Jong Dobo. We must always continue to honor our culture, traditions, and heritage and share the beauty and uniqueness of our culture. We can do this by documenting our culture with stories, photos, and videos, as we have done with our trip to see the Jong Dobo artifact.

Abraham, Mr. Sergius, and FAUZ MA.

Abraham, Mr. Sergius, and FAUZ MA (left to right) during their visit to Dobo village. Photo: Genoveva Nona Tince.

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Abraham Pareras

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Abraham Parera (Bramanta), an Indigenous Sikka youth from Indonesia, is a model, receptionist, and student at the Muhammadiyah Institute of Teacher Training and Education in Maumere.

Fauz Ma

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Fauzi Bin Abdul Majid (FAUZ MA), a Palu’e-Malaysian youth from Indonesia, is a poet, writer, dancer, choreographer, and coach of modern dance. He graduated from Nusa Nipa University in Maumere, Indonesia. Now he is pursuing a Master of English Language Studies at Sanata Dharma University. Fauzi believes that values such as respect for fellow humans, nature, and the Creator, are very important teachings. Read more from FAUZ MA:

 

 

 

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