Tradutional custom house – uma lulik, Timor Leste


There are tens of different types of uma lulik in Timor Leste. Each district has got not only  it’s own dialect (about 32 around the country) but also it’s own design of traditional house. The uma lulik in the picture was spotted near Seloi in Aileu district and it’s the one which I like the most. I think it’s really beautiful.

Uma luliks are not made for living but mostly for different ceremonies which play a crucial role in the traditional society of Timor. People believe uma lulik is inhabited by spirits that can give advice or help the family in difficult times, that’s why every new young family must build their own uma lulik asap and, trust me,  the inauguration of the newly built uma lulik is a massive event attended by hundreds if not thousands of people and it lasts up to 2 weeks during which time dozens of buffaloes are killed to feed all the hundreds of guests.

As you can see it’s quite an expensive even which requires efforts and contributions from the whole family, but even then not so many Timorese can afford to build a uma lulik.

I was lucky to participate in one of these ceremonies and filmed it here.


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