Manggarai is the name given to a region in western Flores, to the people inhabiting this area, and to their language. Prior to the advent of Christianity, the Manggarai practiced a religion based on ancestral spirits. A supreme being was present in Manggarai religion, but was believed to involve himself in human affairs only rarely.

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Traditional Culture(1920)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 182-188
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 123-263
Ancestral spirits Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 150-151, 180
Deified ancestor(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 150-151
God(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 125-126

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 171

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 511-512
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 531-532
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and evolutionary (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 56-122
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 56-122
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 56-122, 150-151

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 80-81, 154

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Absent (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 41-52
Resource management tapu Present (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 729
Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 175


Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 260-261
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 260-261
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 83
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 527-528, 530-531
Largest religious community Larger than a local community, smaller than the society (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 41-52
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 41-52
Social Environment +
Population 155000 (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 12, 49-50
Population of largest political community 10,000-99,999 (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 12, 30, 49-50
Importance of Patrilateral descent High (Source)
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 82
Importance of Matrilateral descent Low (Source)
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 82
Polygamy Limited polygyny (Source)
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 82
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 82


(No) external warfare Common, at least every five years (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 18-41
Erb (1997)
(No) internal warfare Occasional, at least every generation (Source)
Erb (1997)
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Erb (1997), pp. 50-51
Erb (1987), pp. 7
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 7
Distance to nearest continent 795.0 (Source)
Erb (1997)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Erb (1997), pp. 48
Islamic influence on supernatural belief Evidence of influence (Source)
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 83
Erb (1997), pp. 49
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 81
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 81
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Absent (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 6-8
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 830

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Tectonic (Source)
Morwood et al. (2009), pp. 438
Island Size (km²) 13500.0 (Source)
Morwood et al. (2009), pp. 438
Maximum elevation (meters) 2400.0 (Source)
Morwood et al. (2009), pp. 438


Latitude -8.6 (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 830
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 120.4 (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 830
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1920-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +


Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Kartomi (2001), pp. 64
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Allerton (2009), pp. 273
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Allerton (2009), pp. 273
Erb (1987), pp. 39

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Allerton (2009)
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 41, 46-47

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
'Manggarai' (2010)
Kartomi (2001), pp. 70
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
'Manggarai' (2010)

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Erb (1987), pp. 39, 40
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Koentjaraningrat (1972A), pp. 81
Erb (1987), pp. 38-41
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Institutional religious syncretism Medium (Source)
Allerton (2009), pp. 277-278
Kartomi (2001), pp. 68
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Allerton (2009), pp. 273
External Links
Allerton, C. (2009). Static crosses and working spirits: Anti-Syncretism and Agricultural Animism in Catholic West Flores. Anthropological Forum: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Comparative Sociology, 19 (3), 271-287. DOI:10.1080/00664670903278403

Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from

Brunton, R. (1989). The Abandoned Narcotic: Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Area Calculator. (2014). Retrieved from:

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014).

Erb, M. (1987). When rocks were young and earth was soft: Ritual and mythology in Northeastern Manggarai (Unpublished PhD Thesis). State University of New York, New York.

Erb, M. (1997). Contested time and place: Constructions of history in Todo, Manggarai (Western Flores, Indonesia). Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 28(1), 47-77. DOI:

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from

Kartomi, M. (2001). [Music culture of central, western and eastern Manggarai (western Flores)] Part 2: Change in Manggarai music and ritual in the twentieth century. Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 35(2), 61-98. Retreived from;dn=200204983;res=IELAPA.

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156,

Koentjaraningrat. (1972A). Manggarai. In Lebar, F.M., Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia (Volume I: Indonesia, Andaman Islands and Madagascar) (pp. 81-83). New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files.

Manggarai (2010). Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from

Morwood, M. J., Sutikna, T., Saptomo, E. W., Jatmiko, Hobbs, D. R., & Westaway, K. E. (2009). Preface: Research at Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia. Journal of Human Evolution, 57(5), 437-449. DOI:10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.07.003