Exploring the culture of Kulawi Traditional Village in Central Sulawesi

Exploring the culture of Kulawi Traditional Village in Central Sulawesi
Raego Dance. (Photo: Laely Indah Lestari Doc.)

IO – Indonesia is a country very rich in culture. Each region has its own unique and distinctive culture and customs. Among these is Kulawi Traditional Village in Central Sulawesi, a hidden cultural village located about 72 kilometers from Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi. Getting there is not always easy, as often there are landslides and floods. Therefore, it is very important to choose the right time to go to Kulawi Traditional Village. 

The village is located in the Mataue Mountains, Kulawi District, Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi. Mataue means a “water spring” because it is flanked by three rivers, the Oo River, the Watuwali River, and the Tolibanu River.  

Laely Indah Lestari, a cultural traveler, photographer, and writer visited Kulawi Traditional Village to learn about its culture. As a guest of honor in the Kulawi Traditional Village, she received many special items. Laely mingles with the community, as well as enjoying the culture and the atmosphere of the preserved ancestral values. 

Several things can be obtained in the Kulawi Traditional Village cultural tour. First, we can wear traditional Kulawi clothes consisting of a blouse, and a skirt, which is used in a single suit as a traditional outfit. 

The top or blouse is called Halili, while the lower part is called Topii, or the skirt consists of three layers, each of which has a philosophy. 

The top layer symbolizes the relationship between man and God. The second or most middle layers represent the relationship between humans. Meanwhile, the bottom layer symbolizes the relationship between humans and nature. “I am very proud to wear the Traditional Kulawi Tribe Clothing, especially I was able to wear it while mingling in the local community,” said Laely. 

Second, witnessing the making of Indonesian traditional backcloth. The Kulawi tribe has been manufacturing bark cloth since the Neolithic era. It is made from traditionally processed fibers of banyan tree bark, such as nunu, ivo, and malo bark. In Kulawi, the Bark Fabric is called Kumpe or Mbesa which means traditional cloth. 

Visitors have the opportunity to learn to make bark cloth directly by a Kulawi maradika (blue-blooded) woman who was already very good at making bark. Also, witnessing them making the backcloth, as well as learning to beat the bark; the process is very complicated and takes a long time. 

Third, we will also get to know Raego Dance, a typical dance from the tribe. This dance is accompanied by a melodious choir consisting of men and women. The choir echoed the meaningful lyrics without music. The poetry is sung by a choir that has been designated as an intangible cultural heritage asset. 

When she just came to the Kulawi Traditional Village, Laely was greeted with this dance. Raego is not only a work of art but has a sacred value in traditional ceremonies and welcoming guests. “I got goosebumps when I was greeted by this dance.” 

According to her, the dance is an extraordinary experience when visiting Kulawi Traditional Village. “Dancing together and dissolving in the beauty of Indonesian culture.” 

Fourth, spending time in Raimbulawa. Raimbulawa is a reading place that is commonly used by locals. During the ceremony, Laely was introduced to the traditional officials and traditional elders who explained the hierarchy of the Kulawi, and its customs. The Kulawi traditional officials must be descendants of the Maradika (Kulawi blue blood). 

Fifth, enjoying togetherness at the Kulawi’s traditional house, Lobo. The Lobo house is the center of the village that deals with customs, government and culture. 

The traditional house is made of forest wood which has its outer skin removed and then smoothed using a machete; it is rich in symbols of social philosophy. 

The elements of the building contain their values, from the roof, carvings, and the body of the legs to the entire shape of the building. This place functions for deliberation, welcoming guests of honor, traditional ceremonies, and also a traditional court. 

Being a guest of honor in the Kulawi Traditional Village is a beautiful intimacy for Laely. Cultural tourism in Kulawi Traditional Village is also an experience in itself. Visiting this place is not only about loving Indonesian culture, but also growing a sense of pride that in this part of the Earth, Central Sulawesi, where the customs are still beautifully preserved. 

“The Kulawi Traditional Village is very special, the intimacy through the common thread of culture makes us closer to the traditional clothes, the warm hospitality, and its customs,” she concluded. (Kartika Indah)