Lamaholot - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Most people depend on swidden agriculture for subsistence. Coastal peoples often fish. Lamakera, Solor, Lamalera, and Lembata hunt whales and manta ray. Dugong are taken along protected coasts. Maize is the staple, supplemented by rice, tubers, vegetables, and spices. Cotton and indigo are produced locally. Palms have many uses in construction and food provision. Crops that are sold to traders include copra, tamarind, and candlenuts. Deer antlers, shark fins, and birds' nests are also supplied to traders for export. Domestic animals include pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, dogs, and buffalo. Deer and wild pigs are hunted. Schoolteachers are assured a regular income.

Industrial Arts. Various Lamaholot specialize in pot making, blacksmithing, and the weaving and dyeing of coarse or fine ikat cloth. Some villages provide expert carpenters and boat builders.

Trade. Some of the coastal villages, particularly Lamahala, Trong, Adonara, Lamakera, and Solor regularly engage in trade of various kinds. As a general pattern, mountain dwellers trade agricultural products, coconuts, and goats to coastal villages for fish and manufactured products. Weekly markets attract inexpensive commodities and produce. Stores, mostly Chinese-owned, are found in the larger towns.

Division of Labor. Men fish, hunt, construct boats and houses, and carry on some forms of trade. Women weave, make pots, trade produce and cloth, and cook for domestic needs. Men generally assume political roles. Both sexes share in the work in the fields.

Land Tenure. In east Flores village land, usually owned by the major clan, is divided and allotted each year by the lord of the land. Elsewhere the pattern is less clear. Property tends to be associated with a village; rights of usage are established individually by clearing and maintaining fields. Under government encouragement, much previously unsafe and unused land has been cleared and concepts of individual ownership of property are being introduced.

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