DILI, 18 november 2023 (TATOLI) – French researchers, in collaboration with Timor-Leste’s Secretary of State for Arts and Culture, yesterday launched a book entitled ‘Lian Rama Hana: Istória lian no knananuk Ataúro’ (Voices of the arrows. Stories and songs from the island of Ataúro), a collection of texts that aims to demonstrate the results of multidisciplinary research carried out in Ataúro.
This collection was authored by a team made up of Dana Rappoport, Nicolas César, Gabriel Facal, Dominique Guillaud, Ariadna Burgos, Laure Emperaire, Colin Vanlaer, Jean-Christophe Galipaud and Kelly Silva.
The book presents a collection of narratives and songs gathered since 2014, as well as the oral traditions of three groups from Ataúro (namely the Manroni, the Humangili and the Adade) that have been compiled in a multilingual edition, combining the languages spoken on the island (dadu’a, rasua, hresuk and raklungu) and their translations into Tetum.
Dominique Guillaud, one of the authors, said that the book is made up of several collections of mythological texts that tell of the origins of Atauro, which, according to the narrative, emerged from the surface of the sea with arrows, songs heard from the sky and many other stories that describe the extraordinary culture of this small island. The book is complemented by 19 texts on various aspects of local culture (gastronomy, local power, and fishing, among others) that have been compiled by researchers from various scientific disciplines (archaeology, ethnobotany, geography, anthropology, including eco-anthropology, and ethnomusicology).
“The research was carried out using local speakers to collect data for a history book. We hope that the work can have a positive impact on the Timorese people, especially the Ataúro generations, in safeguarding their history,” said the writer on the sidelines of the launching ceremony at the Fundação Oriente, in Dili.
Dominique Guillaud also emphasized that the book’s originality lies in the spirit of collaboration shown between the French researchers, the Timorese, and the local people, who decided on the choice of texts, with the help of three native interpreters from each of the language groups.
Joanita do Rego Soares, one of the Timorese archaeologists involved in the research, expressed her satisfaction that the book had been successfully published thanked to the contributions of all the groups, especially those from the Ataúro community.
“The research targets local communities and traditional spokespeople to tell the story of the island and its customs, as well as its gastronomy and local dialects,” she said.
The archaeologist admitted that the main limitation of the research was the lack of material to identify more historical aspects, partly due to the fact that the local people have not revealed all the information, as they still consider part of their history to be sacred.
Around 1,000 copies have been produced and will be distributed to the French community of Ataúro, school libraries in Dili and municipalities.
The team of researchers is made up of nine French and one Brazilian, as well as five Timorese, including some from the Ataúro community. The project is funded by the French government and a research agency, with a total budget of more than €200,000, or equivalent to US$218,000.
Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá
Editor: Filomeno Martins