Boti Tribe of West Timor, Indonesia / by Debra Wallace

Visiting Boti is going back in time. We traveled 45 kilometers from the nearest town, not a place you would know.  When the going was good we reached 20 kilometers per hour. This was easier than the last time I visited Boti with a walk across a dry riverbed and up a steep hill into the village.

 Village Gate

Village Gate

Because of this remoteness the Boti have largely escaped the impact of past colonial rule, missionaries and the rapid changes taking place elsewhere in Indonesia. This location and an embrace of self sufficiency leaves the Boti raising their own food, making their own clothes and everything else they need.  No electricity, running water or phones. In fact, besides the odd tourist, contact with the outside world is limited to a weekly traditional market.

When we arrived we presented the betal nut we had brought (a traditional gift) and were warmly welcomed with a woven scarf and sweet coffee.

 Meeting the Chief

Meeting the Chief

We had a chance to spend time with the Boti women and they demonstrated their weaving skill. Beside cloth for their clothing they have a small shop and I bought a shawl (table runner?) and coconut serving utensils.

There are only 316 people left in the inner Boti community as some marry with outsiders or opt for modern conveniences. Due to their beliefs the Boti do not allow outsiders to join their tribe. Currently neither the chief in his 40s nor his sister in her 30s is able to marry for lack of a suitable partner.  Commitment to tradition is strong. 

Life in Boti is unique. It’s a peaceful place to visit and a window into the past. A simple meal off bowls made from coconut shell. Atmospheric light from a gas lamp and candles. Off to bed early and up early to gather water and collect fire wood. All very magical in the morning mist.  

You can see additional images at Latest Work/Boti Tribe

 Morning Mist

Morning Mist

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