Introduction / History
The Asilulu live on the island of Ambon in the villages of Asilulu and Ureng, in the district of Leihitu, Central Maluku Regency, in the province of Maluku. The provinces of North Maluku and Maluku were created from the province of Maluku in 1999. Transportation to the Asilulu area is available both by land and by sea. General transportation is available several times a day to the city of Ambon. The Maluku Islands, historically called the Spice Islands, are a string of over one thousand islands scattered over the eastern portion of Indonesia. They include most of the islands between Sulawesi and New Guinea and between Timor and the Philippines. The Asilulu language is one of the original languages of the island of Ambon and is spoken by people who reside on the west coast. The people in the village of Negri Lima speak a very similar, but different, language sometimes known as Henalima. Historically, the Asilulu language was a trade language for this region, and even now it is not unusual to meet a person from a neighboring island, such as Seram, who can speak the Asilulu language.
What are Their Lives Like?
Fishing is the principle livelihood for the Asilulu, and because rice farming is rare in this region, their agricultural cash crops tend to be clove and nutmeg. The fishermen do not recognize any special traditional rituals, although it is common for the community to base all activities and work in prayer, according to each individual's conviction. Before going to sea, the fishermen will first pray to God for blessings and protection. The fish they catch are used for daily needs, and the excess is sold. Some of the fish most commonly caught include: cakalang, tangiri, momar, silapa, lalosi, and kawalinya. From the villages of Luhu, Iha-Kulur, and Asilulu, the catch is primarily sold to Hitu and Ambon. The fishermen use various methods to catch fish, including dragnets (rorahi), casting nets, and rattan fish traps. When using casting nets and dragnets, they may group together to fish. The group leader is called tanase, and his men are known as masnait. With the nets and traps, they can catch momar, kawalinya, make, julung-julung and tuing-tuing (flying fish). When using rattan fish traps, the Asilulu fish individually. Ikan batu-batu (coral fish) are typically caught with this fishing technique.
What are Their Beliefs?
The Asilulu are Muslims. As such, they believe they will be judged based on their knowledge of the Qur'an, as well as what they did with their lives. The Asilulu have syncretized Islam with their traditional beliefs. They mix traditional cultural practices and Islamic teachings in many of their events, such as weddings, circumcisions, royal inaugurations, and building of mosques (mesjid).
What are Their Needs?
To market their produce in the cities of Ambon and Hitu, the Asilulu need a satisfactory means of transportation, so that fish will still be fresh when they arrive. At present, transportation infrastructure is sorely lacking. In recent years, outside provocateurs have sparked a deadly cycle of violence and revenge between various groups on Ambon. Peace, order, and restoration of the shattered island are desperately needed.
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