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Raja Servus of Larantuka, Flores, Eastern Indonesia

Le raja Servus de Larantuka, à Flores, en Indonésie orientale
Robert H. Barnes
p. 39-56


Les Hollandais ont déposé le raja Lorenzo II de Larantuka en 1904 et l’ont exilé à Java. Lorsque son fils Servus a atteint sa maturité, ils l’ont nommé raja. Alors, le poste avait été largement réduit à une fonction surtout administrative au bas de la bureaucratie coloniale, même si les Hollandais appelaient les rajas des Indes orientales Hollandaises « gouverneurs autonomes ». Servus semble avoir perdu le moral après une agression à laquelle il ne survécut qu’après une nage de six heures dans la mer. Au final, il déçut à la fois les fonctionnaires hollandais et les missionnaires catholiques locaux qui l’obligèrent à démissionner. Par la suite, les Hollandais furent contraints au départ et l’état indonésien termina le travail de bureaucratisation de l’administration locale en mettant fin à la fonction de raja.

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Texte intégral

For many of the so called Indonesian outer islands the effective establishment of colonial rule in the first decades of the 20th century represented a profound historical experience. After the establishment of “rust en orde” (peace and order) – which frequently meant military subjugation – there followed a multiplicity of changes which, after the introduction of an “ordered administration” were intended to further the general social and economic development of the land and people.
(Dietrich, 1985 : 275.)

1The first years of the 20th century were marked by the shift from the “non-interference” policy of the Dutch state toward an increasing intervention into and management of local affairs. As the 20th century advanced, the Dutch East Indies moved increasingly toward a bureaucratic structure which through military and police powers imposed direct control on local populations and suppressed or minimized local powers until the Japanese invasion and armed Indonesian resistance brought Dutch control to an end. The developing phases of this process up to the end of Dutch dominance have been surveyed by Karel E.M. Bongenaar (2005). For the eastern Indonesian island of Flores, a series of perceptive studies by Stephan Dietrich has detailed colonial and missionary developments through the 19th and 20th centuries (Dietrich 1983, 1985, 1989 ; see Barnes 2009a : 83-84 n. 1). I have given close attention to interventions by the Dutch into the affairs of the Rajas of Larantuka and Adonara from the Dutch takeover of the region from the Portuguese in the mid-19th century until they finally deposed Raja Lorenzo II of Larantuka (Barnes, 2005a, 2005b, 2009a, 2009b). In this article, I would like to consider further steps taken toward consolidation of Dutch control in the region during the reign of Lorenzo’s son Raja Servus and immediately after.

  • 1 His mother, Nyora Onsu, and Raja Lorenzo II’s father, Johan Kinu, were sister and brother (van Eerd (...)
  • 2 Wertenbroek names Raja Louis’s successor as Njo Pajong [Nyo Payong in current spelling], Petrus Bel (...)

2After the colonial authorities deposed Raja Lorenzo II of Larantuka on July 1, 1904, they turned in August to his relative Sinyo Louis (or Luis) Belantran de Rosari, whom they appointed as acting Raja.1 In the realm of Larantuka there was the office of a sort of supplementary Raja, called Raja Kedua (Second Raja), which was in the hands of the Belantran de Rosari family. The family itself had provided regents before the Dutch took control. After a period of exile at Atapupu, Timor, from 1888 until 1891 for shooting his wife dead, Sinyo Louis returned to Larantuka and set himself up first as a goldsmith and then as a tailor (letter Heckler to de Groot 11 July, 1904, p. 13, in Verbaal 21 April 1906, No 55 ; Laan 1962-1968 : 1207-1208), although he was exiled for a period to Adonara by Raja Lorenzo II. He was installed as acting Raja on December 16, 1905 and officially named Raja on December 12, 1906, but died of a serious stomach disease three months later during the night between April 30 and May 1 (Collectie Wertenbroek ; Koloniaal Verslag van 1905 : 79 ; Mailrapport 163 ; Mailrapport 170/356 ; Letter of Jozef Hoeberechts March 20, 1906 in Laan 1962-1968 : 1290 ; Koloniaal Verslag van 1906 : 75 n. 1 ; Barnes 2005a : 20-21). Johannes Belantran de Rosari replaced him as acting Raja and served until January 1911, when Lorenzo II’s son Servus was appointed Raja (Hagenaar 1934).2

Servus in youth

  • 3 Dietrich (1997 : 145-146 n. 46) gives Servus’s ceremonial name as Raja Usi Le Seberang Tuan Kinu Pa (...)

3Servus was born on Saturday February 9, 1889 (not 1890 as van Eerde has it). Raja Lorenzo II regarded St. Mary, Rainha or Regina of Larantuka, as his sovereign. For this reason he was determined that his son be named Servus Reginae Mariae, “Slave of Mary”. Since that was no saint’s name, the priests baptized him Joannes (or Joan) a Santa Maria Joseph Laurentius (van Eerde 1923 : 80, 105 ; Laan 1962-1968 : 753 ; Collectie Wertenbroek). In popular usage he retained the name Servus, however, and is still commonly known under that name. This name gave rise to a serious misunderstanding on the part of Resident Villeneuve, who claimed to have learned that the Catholic Confreria led by the Raja of Larantuka maintained sixty slaves and twenty debt bondsmen. The basis of the misunderstanding was the practice which, for example, permitted the Raja to refer to his son metaphorically as the slave of Mary and his own mother as the slave of the Confreria (Letter of ten Brink 29-5-1890 in Laan 1962-1968 : 808 ; Steenbrink 2003 : 91).3

4When he reached the proper age, Servus attended the Jesuit school in Larantuka and later went to the lay brothers’ school in Surabaya, where he was in 1904 when his father was exiled. Since almost all of his father’s possessions among them his house, plantation and valuables (including gold and elephant tusks) were confiscated by the colonial authorities, upon his father’s exile, school money was no longer available for Servus. He remained on Java until his father’s death in 1910, supporting himself by drawing (Collectie Wertenbroek ; Steenbrink 2003 : 96).

  • 4 “Zinken was authorized to act as chargé d’affaires for Don Lorenzo, but this authorization proved t (...)

5On July 16, 1904, two weeks after the arrest of Raja Lorenzo, Resident Heckler requested that the Governor-General prevent Servus from returning for the time being from his school in Surabaya to Larantuka (Verbaal 21 April 1906, No 55, Telegram No 73, Heckler to G.G. Rosseboom). In the same month Heckler had already written that Servus, then fourteen or fifteen years old, and a student in the school in Surabaya since the end of August 1903, could not for the time be considered for the office of Raja because of his absence from Larantuka, because he was underage, and because of his one-sided religious upbringing, which could be regarded as dangerous above all for a Raja of Larantuka (Verbaal 21 April 1906, No 55, letter Heckler to de Groot 11 July 1904, p. 12). On April 21, 1907, Don Servus, then eighteen years old, arrived in Larantuka by packet boat, provided with permission of the Resident of Jogjakarta, Java. Streams of people greeted him when he went ashore out of curiosity or loyalty. Servus told Controleur Couvreur that he had been sent by his father to retrieve possessions left there, which in fact the acting Raja had charged Brother Zinken with selling for money.4 The missionaries and the civil authorities were equally alarmed by Servus’s appearance. Hoeberechts wrote to Mgr. Luypen,

Monseigneur, as I already wrote in my previous letter, Mijnheer Couvreur arrived here. It is lucky that he came in good time, because a few days after his appearance, Servus, the son of the ex-Raja, also arrived here. If the Controleur had not been here, who knows how everything would have been construed to our disadvantage again. Followed by a whole procession of people, Servus showed up here. No one knows how all of these people came together to follow Servus. But they were there even before anyone knew who sat in that white European packet. I received Servus, but immediately asked him if he had been to see the Controleur or the Civil Commissioner. When he answered that he had not, I sent him there immediately in order to show himself to the Civil Commissioner first. The Controleur later came to us and advised us not to give Servus any lodging in the parsonage. Naturally I complied. (Letter Hoeberechts to Luypen May 26, 1907, in Laan 1962-1968 : 1315-1316.)

6Servus returned to Java with the next mail boat, to the relief of Hoeberechts, who feared that his presence would be blamed on the mission. “We were all happy that he went on board again.”

Servus’s behavior was anything but proper in the month that he was here. So far as I know nothing happen in the moral sphere, but every night there was a feast celebrated, now here now there. Through his bragging and lying about Java and Javanese circumstances he has possibly done more harm here than he can himself suspect. (Letter Hoeberechts to Luypen June 6, 1907, in Laan 1962-1968 : 1316.)

7The pearl fisherman Kock, who had a concession in the islands, told Couvreur that he had been on the same boat from Macassar with Servus and that Servus had said while he was on the boat that he was going to Larantuka to become Raja, replacing Don Louis. Couvreur told Servus that he was strictly to refrain from giving orders to heads (leading local figures) or any person other than his servants and that he was not to behave as the Raja Moeda (Crown Prince). Any behavior other than that of an ordinary private person would lead Couvreur to remove him at the first opportunity to Kupang. Couvreur was willing to help him sell his father’s possession, but he forbade Servus without prior notice to visit the mountain villages or any place outside of Larantuka. He also told Servus that he would need to leave for Java on the next boat, which would come a month later. Servus had thought it would take him three months to sell the few goods that were left. At a meeting of the various heads of the realm on April 22, Couvreur told them that Don Servus was not the Crown Prince, much less the future Raja, but just like every other merchant who wanted to sell goods.

8In the same report in which he relates the above treatment of Servus, Couvreur considers whether the realm of Larantuka as it existed until 1906 had any further reason to exist. His answer was “negative”. The realm of Larantuka “in our sense” never existed or only temporarily. It is “nothing other than a collection of as many islands and islets as there are villages.” There was hardly any mutual communication between villages to speak of.

Shy, fearful and distrustful, one looked out from the village land and did not feel particularly safe when one approached the territory of another village. Seri [Sera] Demon [the legendary founder of the realm of Larantuka] was a conqueror, Mai-Bapa Companie [the Dutch East Indies Government] is too today – it is hoped as a good and mighty protector of this childlike population.

9Couvreur estimated that the government did not need the aid of a Raja to establish its control. It could do that itself, and the influence of the rajas in the ten districts of the realm of Larantuka was non-existent. The government might acquire a good raja, but it was very likely to acquire an intriguer instead. “A native prince, even the best, is someone who thinks that the population is there for him and not the reverse.” There was no Raja at the moment, so why make one ? In whose interest would it be to make one, the mission’s perhaps ? Appointment of Servus risked awakening disturbing influences, whereas a half changed course was already taken with the appointment of Don Louis Belantran de Rosari, who could not have the same influence as a Diaz Vieira Godinho (thus seeming partially to contradict a claim Couvreur had made earlier that the Rajas had no influence in the villages). Who from the Belantran de Rosari family was to replace Don Louis was still to be investigated (Couvreur 1907).

Servus elevated as Raja

  • 5 Dietrich reports, following van Rietschoten (1913 :9), that Schmiedeman served only fourteen months (...)
  • 6 The Korte Verklaring was introduced in the Dutch East Indies after the end of the Acheh war. Drafte (...)
  • 7 He was confirmed on 25 June 1912 (Mailrapport 900/19, Logeman).

10After his father died in 1910, the government decided to award Servus a monthly stipend of 20 guilders (letter of Resident Vanandel of Jogjakarta 17 December 1910, in Laan 1962-1968 : 1412). According to Wertenbroek’s unidentified source Servus returned to Larantuka in that year and stayed with Civil Commissioner Schmiedeman in the former house of Raja Louis, which that year was used as a rest house for travelers (pasanggrahan) (Collectie Wertenbroek).5 How long he remained in that house, or indeed in Larantuka, is unknown. In 1911 Servus stayed a few months with A.M. Hens, Controleur of the Afdeeling (District of) Flores. Hens then brought him to Larantuka on December 25, 1911. In a meeting on 17 January 1912, Servus, aged nearly 23 years, was unanimously chosen Raja. Present and voting were Johan (Joannes) Balantran de Rosari (who was simultaneously the Kapitan of Larantuka, Raja Kedua and Acting Raja of Larantuka), the Kakan of the ten districts of the realm, and various lesser officials of the realm, all of whom expressed their desire to see Servus become Raja and emphasized that he was the only legitimate candidate. Controleur Hens chaired the meeting and Civil Commissioner Schmiedeman served as secretary. When asking for the opinions of the assembled dignitaries, Hens expressed the government’s wish that once again a person who was entitled by adat (customary law) be placed as head of the realm of Larantuka as a self-governor. After signing the Korte Verklaring (short declaration),6 which spelled out his rights and obligations as defined by the Dutch East Indies government, Raja Servus assumed office pending confirmation by the colonial government.7 The meeting closed after confirming Johan Balantran de Rosari as Raja Kedua or Second, i.e., Vice, Raja (Process Verbaal in Laan 1962-1968 : 1488-1491, also in Collectie Wertenbroek).

11The population in general was very enthusiastic about the elevation of Servus. From everywhere in the mountains people came to Larantuka with gifts (Kroniek Larantuka, 1878-1924, Zusters Franciscanessen van Heythuyzen, MS, 17.1.1912, cited in Dietrich 1989 : 320 n. 206). The appointment on the other hand was not at all to the taste of Civil Commissioner Schmiedeman. Hoeberechts had written that, although Controleur Hens was very pleased with Servus, the Civil Commissioner was a sworn enemy of Servus and had no desire to see him become Raja. Hoeberechts suspected that it was because of his dislike of Servus that Schmiedeman had cooled in his friendship for the missionaries and had begun “to work against Christianity” (letter of Hoeberechts 7-1-1912, in Laan 1962-1968 : 1488). Controleur Hens wrote a few years after the appointment that Servus was still a young man, who spoke and understood Dutch.

He lived during the time of his father’s exile on Java and underwent there degenerating influences. [He] has a very weak character : little influence emanates from him. [He] thinks more about his pleasures than about the dignity of his office, which dignity he has already thrown away several times. [He] needs forceful and strict guidance. He cannot be left to himself. (Hens 1916 : 151.)

12Dietrich summarized the organization of Flores kingdoms before the heavy intervention of the Dutch in the early 20th century as follows.

The representation of the princedoms showed how little they resembled the usual model of a state or kingdom. Instead of a concentration of power in the center, legitimate authority and powers were divided horizontally and vertically among the most diverse corporate groups. Positions of authority were not awarded by the princes, but were instead anchored in the local social structure and historical traditions and inherited within specific groups. There was no bureaucratic hierarchy appointed by the prince which was responsible only to the prince because [its members] owed their positions to him… In the absence of a specific administrative structure with normatively specified authorities and competencies, the power and influence of a prince was dependent on changing constellations of power and therefore not territorially unified. (Dietrich 1989 : 46-47.)

13Local patterns of authority frustrated the Netherlanders from their first involvement in the region in the early 17th century when Adriaen van de Velde complained that the various sengaji (rulers) in the Solor islands had no authority and were merely heads of the community, unable to do anything that was not approved by the community. Their government he said was “nearly an anarchy, which is the most miserable state of a community or republic” (Letter of van de Velde to Pieter Both 1 May 1614, in Tiele & Heeres 1886 : 94). This sentiment was echoed at various times through the centuries and surfaced again in Couvreur’s assertion in 1907 referred to above that the Rajas’ influence in the ten districts of the realm was non-existent (see also Dietrich 1983 : 52). However there is no doubt that the Rajas of Larantuka were thought of by the local population as possessing a spiritual strength, called in the Lamaholot language ikǝ’ and that their powers and authority rested on and were sanctioned by the ancestors (Kennedy 1955 : 177-179 ; Barnes 2008 : 349).

  • 8 Raja Lorenzo II had indeed attempted on several occasions to collect taxes in Sikka, but these inci (...)

14After deposing Servus’s father Raja Lorenzo II in 1904, the Netherlanders set about establishing “peace and order” in the islands. This process involved registering the population, confiscating firearms, and the imposition of corvée labor and taxes. These intrusions sometimes provoked violent reactions, which the Dutch met with military force (Dietrich 1985). Increasingly the colonial authorities took steps to reduce the full governmental functions of the self-governing rajas to merely administrative functions (Dietrich 1983 : 53). Whereas in the past the rajas had received tribute at irregular intervals from the districts, they had no taxing powers.8 Now the Dutch expected them to take on regular taxing responsibilities for the local treasury in order to cover the expenses of the various modernizing initiatives the Dutch were introducing. These steps to integrate the rajas into the colonial administrative apparatus fundamentally changed the relationship between the rajas and the districts comprising the realm. As Dietrich (1985 : 289) writes, the positions of Raja and Kakang (District Head) as offices invested with administrative functions were created for the first time through this process and the transformation was sanctioned by the power of the colonial government.

  • 9 Six months later on 11 June 1912 Raja Servus married Philomena Nini (Laan 1962-1968 : 1490). A year (...)

15These changes were already well under way by the time Servus became Raja. In his formal report on the meeting which appointed Servus, Hens stated that after explaining to Servus his rights and responsibilities, he asked Servus to read the Korte Verklaring to the assembly. Hens then asked him if he understood these rights and responsibilities as detailed in the declaration he had just read out, to which Servus answered that he did. Hens further asked Servus if he wanted to accept the appointment under these conditions, to which Servus again said that he did. After taking an oath on the content of the declaration, Servus and the others signed the declaration and Hens then announced that Servus was now Raja. By these means the colonial authorities sought to bind Raja Servus absolutely to their stipulated definition of his role (Process Verbaal in Laan 1962-1968 : 1490).9

  • 10 Magdalena had a twin sister named Catharina (or Katharina) who married Sengaji, Kakang of Pamakayo, (...)

16In early August 1912, Raja Josef of Atapupu, Timor arrived in Larantuka in order to marry Servus’s 22 year old sister Magdalena.10 Father Hoeberechts thought that the wedding would take place within two months, but Raja Josef, who had brought f 500 with him returned after a few months with only f 20 and not yet married. In April 1913 Josef returned to Larantuka, again taking f 500 with him. This time it looked like the wedding would finally take place, but these plans fell apart. Just days before its scheduled date, a ship arrived with a force which planned to punish insurgents on Lembata and Adonara who were resisting payment of taxes. Raja Servus immediately departed with the boat for Adonara, and the wedding had to be postponed. He accompanied troops to Niha One, where one rifleman was killed and two other troopers lightly wounded. Servus also was lightly wounded. While Servus was on Adonara, Josef and Magdalena unexpectedly went by boat to Adonara. About this time Servus returned to Larantuka, but Josef and Magdalena remained on Adonara. Hoeberechts seems to have been disgruntled by this behavior, and when the wedding took place on 16 June 1913, it seems to have been a more modest affair than might have been expected (Mailrapport 1607/13 ; Laan 1962-1968 : 1544-1547).

Misfortune and decline

  • 11 Bujung was the brother of Antonio Belantran de Rosari who, as acting Raja, later replaced Servus (C (...)

17A much more serious incident occurred in 1914. At the end of November, Raja Servus was on Solor with several others to collect taxes. On the night of November 29 to 30 they were attacked in their bivouac at Watu Wutung (the shore of Onga Lereng) on the north coast by men from Lama Goang and Wolo in the district of Karawatung. Servus together with his secretary Polu whose hand had already been cut off and a trainee clerk named Bujung managed to flee the bivouac and reach his boat, but were forced to jump into the sea before they could raise the anchor.11 Servus spent the next six hours swimming in the sea before being picked up by a boat from Lamahala. The Civil Commissioner ‘t Sas took troops to Solor the next day, where he found seven mutilated bodies in a well. These included Enga, brother of the Kakang of Lewolein, Palata and Pati from Riang Baring, Rohi, the Head of the village of Kawaliwu, Flores, Dari Aman from Lewerang in Larantuka, Tuna from Kawaliwu and Sani, Kakang of Pamakayu. The Kakang of Lewolein was wounded, but managed to escape. The secretary and the trainee clerk as well as six other men were missing (‘t Sas, Mailrapport 81/15). Eventually the corpse of the clerk Bujung and of another of the missing men washed ashore, as did the hand of the secretary Polu (Mailrapport 236/15). The Civil Commissioner took a troop of armed police to Solor where he inflicted severe losses on the villages which had carried out the attack. They arrested ten of the leaders and received promises that five more would be surrendered to them within a few days (Mailrapport 2436/14 ; Mailrapport 81/15).

18On the day of his rescue Raja Servus visited the nuns in Larantuka and told them about his miraculous escape. He related that while he was on Solor to his astonishment the mountain people of Karawatung came solemnly down the mountain. At first he thought that they were coming to bring him tribute, but he was dismayed when he realized that what was taking place was an insurrection in which his life was at stake. Raja Servus was once again slightly wounded in the arm, but otherwise unharmed despite his long ordeal in the water, but he was obviously shaken (Dagboek, Hoeberechts in Laan 1962-1968 : 1627 ; Collectie Wertenbroek). Many years later in June, 1953, Tinu Lama Kei, the then old Kakang of Pamakayu (but not the one who was killed in 1914), told Wertenbroek that the occasion for the attack was that the Raja of Larantuka had insulted the head of the village by pulling his beard (Collectie Wertenbroek). The accuracy of this story is impossible to judge.

19Raja Servus’s relations with both the missionaries and the government deteriorated badly after this incident, although information concerning the immediate aftermath is lacking. At the end of 1916 Father Hoeberechts wrote that,

Our Raja Servus had moved his residence to Waiwerang [Adonara]. It was fortunate for Larantuka to be finished with that gentleman. Not long ago the Assistant Resident of Flores was here and on the orders of His Excellency the Raja had to return to Larantuka. He has been here since Christmas. Now he has handed in a request to the Resident to be allowed to settle once again in Waiwerang. Among the arguments in favor for this is also “his relationship to the pastors”. That is nice ! Later we will probably hear more about that. Raja Servus is a pitiful figure.

20Hoeberechts found the situation untenable, although what specifically caused these strains he did not say (Hoeberechts to Luijpen, 30-12-1916, Laan 1962-1966 : 1753).


21In 1919 Servus was forced to request that he be allowed to resign with honor on the grounds of mental and physical disorder (Mailrapport 900/19, Dankmeyer ; Hangelbroek 1977 : 140). Assistant Resident Logeman reported that Servus could not tell him how these disturbances expressed themselves, all he could say was that he could not keep his thoughts sufficiently on his work. However, Logeman alleged that this circumstance gave no cause for wonder since it could be said that the Raja was stupefied by drink.

If in the first years of his government he made only moderate use of [drink], eventually he went – despite repeated admonitions and advice – from bad to worse, and it has now come so far with him that he makes regular misuse of it, so that he finally has become unsuited to perform his functions properly, not to speak of his prestige that among the native population has taken a hard knock.

22Logeman claimed that his influence in the realm was thoroughly tarnished and that under the circumstance there could no longer be any talk of cooperation with the European government. Repeatedly the Civil Commissioner and the Assistant Resident spoke to him about his behavior. He then returned to work with good intentions, but he always disappointed. Logeman said that he completely agreed with his predecessor Hens’s poor estimation of Servus. Forceful and strict leadership had not failed to be provided him, but good words as well as strict reprimands were repelled by his extreme laxity and his no longer bridled addiction to drink. Logeman continued,

Had he not anticipated me with his submission of the letter of request, I would in consequence of recently committed ill treatment of a village head and of two clerks belonging to the personnel of the realm, as well as repeated illegal demands for corvée labor to his own profit – which offense is still being investigated –, have presumably felt myself compelled to place him in consideration for removal from office. (Mailrapport 900/19, Logeman ; Houwing 1928.)

23Father Bouma wrote at the time that Servus had resigned his position (Bouma to van der Loo, 23 July 1919, in Laan 1962-1968 : 1942), as did Father Noijen, who mentioned that Servus gave as his reason that he was often out of his senses. He went on to say that Civil Commissioner ‘t Sas and Assistant Resident Logeman received this request with great pleasure and so advised (their superiors) that in a few weeks the approval of the Governor General arrived and that since June Servus no longer had any salary (Noijen to Hoeberechts, 27 July 1919, in Laan 1962-1968 : 1943). Wertenbroek repeated reports that Servus could not get along with ‘t Sas while he was in office, and Dietrich states that he was told that Servus often had conflict with the Netherlands officials (Collectie Wertenbroek, Dietrich 1989 : 320 n. 207).

24Guru Olla, a kinsman of Servus, related an incident in which a boat arrived in Larantuka from Lewotobi, Flores loaded with dry fish. Servus bought the whole amount with the promise that he would pay when the owner, Dile, returned from Lewotobi. When Dile returned to Larantuka and went to Servus’s house in order to receive his money, Servus was not there. He and his companions looked for him in the wards of Gege and Kota, but finally found him in Tanah Merah across the strait in western Adonara. He gave Dile a letter addressed to Guru Olla asking him to pay the f 60 price of the fish. Presented with this letter, Guru Olla told Dile that he did not have so much money, but that he would assume the responsibility of speaking to Servus when he returned from Tanah Merah. Dile then went to Father Bode and said that Guru Olla took responsibility for speaking to Servus, whereupon f 60 was deducted from Olla’s account to cover Servus’s debt. There is no report whether Olla eventually recovered this sum (Guru Olla Diaz Vieira, Hikajat Asalusul Radja Larantuka dan Beberapa Kuluarga Tentang Orang jg. tsb. Dalam Staamboom, excerpted in Collectie Wertenbroek).

25The Jesuit letters do not provide much information about the reasons for the missionaries dissatisfaction with Servus, although there was in one instance unease about a young girl who had earlier been with the nuns and whom Bouma took from Servus and returned to the nuns. The nuns were afraid that the girl would conceive. Servus let the nuns know through the girl’s mother that their concern about the girl was wrong (Bouma to Noyen, 15 September 1919, in Laan 1962-1968 : 1919 ; cf. Dietrich 1989 : 321 n. 207). Wertenbroek noted further slander about Servus. He married Oa Nini from Kota, with whom he had two sons, Lorenzo III (the future Raja) and Gaspar III. When this wife died, he married Hoa from Ariona just across the strait on the coast of Adonara, but had no children with her. In addition to his wives he had a son named Andre with a woman named Marika from Lebao, another ward of Larantuka. He further had a son named Padu Ilé with his own daughter Nona Muda whom he had fathered in Mero. He thus was the son’s father and grandfather. Later he had various children with a woman named Ene who was a sister’s daughter of his second wife Oa Hoa (Collectie Wertenbroek). The relevant dates are not given, but it can be assumed that a number of these children were born after he ceased to be officially the Raja.

26Once Servus had tendered his resignation, the civil authorities were faced with the task of finding a replacement. His sons were still children and did not come into consideration. The Dutch authorities appointed Johan Balantran de Rosari, the Second Raja, as a temporary replacement while he retained his other functions (Mailrapport 900/19, Dankmeyer, Logeman). Servus’s oldest son Lorenzo was only five years old at the time. In view of his weak constitution, his brother Gaspar, born 1 October 1915, was to be kept in mind as a future Raja. In view of the veneration of the Dias Vierra Godinho line by the population, Lorenzo was the only legitimate successor.

Antonius Belantran de Rosari

27In order to avoid a regency lasting fifteen or sixteen years, the Dutch authorities turned once again to the Second Raja line. This time they chose as acting, but not definitive, self-governor Antonius Belantran de Rosari, a young man who was then serving as a secretary in Waiwerang, Adonara. Before being given the job as secretary he had been for a time mandur jalan (overseer of road workers ; see Dietrich 1989 : 170). While serving as secretary he was once stabbed in the stomach by a prisoner who had run amuk and had to be sent to Endeh for medical treatement. He was appointed on 1 October 1919 but not confirmed by the decision of the Governor General until 29 August 1931 (Collectie Wertenbroek). Hangelbroek (1977 : 141) later wrote of him that he was a “wise and unimpeachable man.”

28However when in 1922 Controleur Lubbers reviewed the circumstances of his appointment, he addressed issues about its legitimacy and status. No minutes existed of the meeting in which Antonius was made Raja, although witnesses told Lubbers that it was not made clear whether he was definitively appointed or merely made regent. Nevertheless pencilled notes by Assistant Resident Nix said that when Antonius ceased to fill the office, the sons of Servus would first be considered and only then those of Antonius. A witness reported that at the time Nix had said that sixteen years was a long time and that it was possible that Antonius becoming old might feel less strong, in which case the question of replacement might follow of itself. Servus’s children would then come into consideration. If for example their behavior was not proper, then Antonius’s children would be next.

29Antonius himself thought that he should step aside when the children became old enough. When Antonius was sounded out at the time of Servus’s resignation, he declared that he was prepared to accept the office, but only after first asking Servus if he would approve. Servus had completely agreed with the choice and had no objection to the idea that Antonius should follow him until his children were adult. It is interesting to note that Wertenbroek was told that Servus had suggested Antonius because Antonius had no children and that thus the position would return to Servus’s own children (Collectie Wertenbroek). Lubbers thought that official recognition of the claims of Servus’s children together with a statement that Antonius would fill the post during their minorities would please the population and strengthen his position. As a definitive self-governor (as the Government styled those rajas they left in place or those that they established themselves) he would only be a creature of the government. People would obey him, but only because the Government had put him in that position. Whether the realm of Larantuka could profit by what in Lubbers’s opinion were Antonius’s many good qualities during the long period of his rule depended on what the people made of him. Given that on his father’s side he belonged to the second most important family next to that of the Larantuka Rajas and on his mother’s side was related to that family he had a complete right to serve as acting Raja and they would approve of him. No longer would one hear that behind his back he was disdainfully spoken of as the “Raja Compagnie”, in other words the Government’s lackey. In order to assure him that his resignation would not represent a complete dismissal, Lubbers thought that by Government decision he should be offered a suitable pension. Accordingly Antonius signed a letter in Malay stating that he would serve until one of the two sons of Servus became Raja (Mailrapport 900/19, Logeman ; Mailrapport 3148/22, Lubbers).

30At the time of his appointment Assistant Resident Logeman wrote that Antonius, the eldest son of Manuel Belantran de Rosari and nephew of the former Acting Raja Louis Belantran de Rosari, was employed as native secretary (inlandsch schrijver) in the office of the Civil Commissioner for Adonara and Lomblen (Lembata). He,

[...] has reached the age of 28 years, [had] attended the native school of the Jesuit Fathers in Larantuka, was for a short time the officer for taxation and for four years has filled the post of native secretary.
As such he made himself known as a diligent personality ; he is – so far as can be established – honorable and trustworthy ; his comprehension is very well developed, while he has shown signs of being able to get along outstandingly well with the population and heads. He has a strong constitution and – in contrast to his predecessor – possesses a great deal of personal courage. (Mailrapport 2630/19.)

  • 12 The title of Kakang was held by the hereditary head of each of the ten districts that made up the r (...)

31However, not all of his activities seem to have fit the moral standards expected by the Europeans. Antonius married Meme Bui, who already had a son who was older than him. While married to her, he lived with Oa Ebe Konga, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. Servus’s sister Katharina (Oa Nina) had two children with her husband the Kakang of Pamakayo. After the birth of the second, she went crazy. She then had an affair with Raja Antonius before her husband took her back to Pamakayo. Antonius also had an affair with Katharina’s twin sister Magdalena (Oa Lena) although she was then married to Raja Josef of Atapupu, Timor, with whom she had no children. After this affair she too went crazy. She later had two children with two different men, and after living in the household of Servus, with whom she did not get along, she moved in with her two slaves Klara and Genu, both of whom eventually left her and went their own ways. Because of these affairs, the family of the Rajas of Larantuka together with that of the Kakang of Pamakayu went to the office of Controleur Gelphe and demanded that Antonius be dismissed. Controleur Gelphe replied that he had no such power. They then insisted on receiving a payment of 10 elephant tusks as a fine. To this demand Antonius replied “Ta’ sanggup sebab terlalu berat” (I am not able to because it is too much). He eventually agreed to pay f 400, but never did. Instead he dismissed both sons of Servus as Kakang.12 It was also said of him that while he was Raja in order to please the government, he frustrated the efforts of priests to spread their belief (Collectie Wertenbroek).

32In her travel diary, Hanna Vatter (n.d. : 7) described Antonius, whom she met in Larantuka in November, 1928, as a quiet, modest man of civilized appearance [and] with a white hat. Her husband Ernst Vatter (1932 : 32) said that he was young, slightly statured, almost elegant in a white European suit, the very type of a civilized Black Portuguese, but a little embarrassed and uncertain. On the day that the Vatters met him, Controleur Seegeler called together the six Rajas of East Flores and the Solor Islands to announce the abolition of all of their offices, except those of Adonara and Larantuka. Wertenbroek met Antonius in the early 1950s in Larantuka, when he was known as Raja Bintang (Star Raja) because he had received a decoration from the Queen. Wertenbroek described him then as a trim, graying gentleman who lived withdrawn in Larantuka or in one of his field huts. Wertenbroek and his wife were “always faithful guests at his household feasts” (Wertenbroek n.d. : 334).

Raja Lorenzo III

  • 13 Hangelbroek (1938 : 13) states that Lorenzo took over as acting Raja on 1 November 1937 and was con (...)
  • 14 (Guru Olla Diaz Vieira’s Hikajat Asalusul Radja Larantuka dan Beberapa Kuluarga Tentang Orang jg. t (...)

33In 1938 when Servus’s son Lorenzo was 24 years old, Antonius stepped down so that Lorenzo could become Raja (Hangelbroek 1977 : 140).13 Antonius’s successor Don Lorenzo Oesi Diaz Vieira Godinho III also married in the same year that he became Raja (12 July 1938). His new wife was Donna Martina Magdalena Kanena Ximenes da Silva, the daughter of Raja Thomas of Sikka. Servus asked Antonius to act as spokesman for Lorenzo III in order to negotiate the marriage formalities. For bridewealth the Raja of Sikka asked for f 2000 and 20 large elephant tusks. The spokesman, Antonius, only wanted to give 10 tusks. During a night of negotiation in Sikka, Don Thomas became infuriated and wanted them immediately to take the ten tusks back by automobile or to throw them in the sea. Furthermore he said many humiliating things to Antonius. Finally they came to the agreement that f 5000 would be handed over, of which f 1000 went directly to Donna Martina, the rest going to the family of the Raja of Sikka. At the time Guru Olla wrote this account of the wedding not all of the debt had yet been paid.14 Lorenzo did not even have a house or the means to build one, let alone to pay the bridewealth. Although by Larantuka tradition bridewealth should largely be given in elephant tusks, the father of the bride much preferred cash. The stipend permitted the Raja was not at all sufficient to meet these costs, and he was not allowed to draw on the local treasury. There was no legal basis for asking the lesser chiefs and the population to assume the burden. Nevertheless, under the circumstances the Dutch authorities felt that something of this kind would be acceptable, and Hangelbroek thought that Antonius handled the matter adroitly (Hangelbroek 1977 : 140-141).


34Lorenzo III held office during a period marked by the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies, the return of Dutch control in eastern Indonesia following World War II, the war of independence fought by the Republic of Indonesia mostly in the west, the ultimate Indonesian victory and establishment of the unified state and final abolition of the Rajas on Flores in 1962. Raja Servus lived on until 1946 (Dietrich 1997 : 111). Vatter (1932 : 34) wrote that in 1928-1929, Servus was living as a private individual in Larantuka, but that he was nevertheless still regarded by his former subjects as the only true blooded Raja, to the great anger of Antonius. However, Vatter said that Servus seemed to have accepted his fate. “He had nothing of the tragic dignity of a toppled potentate, but was exceptionally friendly and ready to provide any information about the past of his house” (see also Dietrich 1989 : 199).

35In a conversation in 1950 at the beginning of Indonesia independence between Kennedy and the catechist and customary law head of Lewoloba, Flores, Guru Roqi, about the behavior of the, now departing, Dutch, Roqi told Kennedy that in the past the local people were very proud of Larantuka. Larantuka was free, whereas the rest of Flores was subjected to Bima, Sumbawa. Though the people were passively hostile to the Dutch, there were Rajas who sided with the Dutch. They saw, “that the Larantuka radja was well under the Dutch, and his rank fell very far” (Kennedy 1955 : 185, 187 ; see also Dietrich 1989 : 199).

36In the year that Servus was forced from office, Verbeek (1919 : 456-457) wrote that the treaty provisions accepted by the “self-governing” Rajas outside of Java that stipulated that their territories belonged to the Netherlands Indies meant that, whatever may have been true in the past, there was now no longer any question of sovereignty. Furthermore since they stood under the pressure of the government’s will, the free will of the “self-governors” was limited and in general could be regarded as only a fiction (Verbeek 1919 : 460).

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Unpublished Sources

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Couvreur, A. J. L., 1907, Verslag van eene dienstreis benoorden Larantoeka, 18-28 April 1907 ; Beschrijving van het rijk Larantoeka en verslag van eene reis rond Larantoeka, 13-23 May 1907. Collectie C. C. F. M. le Roux, nummer toegang Nationaal Archief, The Hague, The Netherlands.

— 1924, Memorie van Overgave van de residentie Timor en Onderhoorigheden, 1268, Nationaal Arhcief, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Hagenaar, T. C. K., 1934, Beknopte gegevens betreffende het patrouille gebied van het detachement te Larantuka omvattende Larantoeka, Maoemere, Adonara, Soloren en Lomblen, Nationaal Archief, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Hangelbroek, J. J., 1938, Bestuursmemorie van Overgave van den Controleur. Bestuursperiode 21 Januari 1937 tot 15 September 1938, Ende : Arsip, Sup. Regionalis S.V.D.

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C. C. F. M. le Roux, nummer toegang, Nationaal Archief, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Houwing, W. J., 1928, Memorie van Overgave van den fd. controleur van Oost-Flores en Solor-eilanden, Arsip Keuskupan San Dominggo, Larnatuka, Flores.

Kennedy, Raymond, 1955, Field Notes on Indonesia : Flores 1949-1950, Harold C. Conklin, ed. [unpublished source], New Haven : Human Relations Area Files.

Laan, Petrus, 1962-1968, Larantuka 1860-1918, 9 vols (deposited in the Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Leiden, The Netherlands).

Mailrapport 163, Resident de Rooy to the Governor General, 19 December 1905. Mailrapporten Openbaar Fonds Code 2.10.10 Microfiche Number 881, Nationaal Archief, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Mailrapport 170/356, Politiek Verslag der residentie Timor en Onderhorigheden over November en December 1905. Mailrapporten Openbaar Fonds Code 2.10.10 Microfiche Number 881, Nationaal Archief, The Hague, The Netherlands.

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Mailrapport 900/19, Letter of Dankmeyer to Governor General Idenburg, 18 February 1919. Letter of Logeman to Governor General Idenburg, 16 Januari 1919. Mailrapporten Openbaar Fonds Code 2.10.10 Microfiche Number 926, Nationaal Archief, The Hague, The Netherlands.

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Rietschoten, J. G. F., 1913, Memorie omtrent den toestand van het gewest Timor en Onderhoorigheden. (Collectie C. C. F. M. le Roux, nummer toegang Nationaal Archief, The Hague, The Netherlands).

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1 His mother, Nyora Onsu, and Raja Lorenzo II’s father, Johan Kinu, were sister and brother (van Eerde 1923 : 105). Louis’s father was Nyo Kecé (Augustinus).

2 Wertenbroek names Raja Louis’s successor as Njo Pajong [Nyo Payong in current spelling], Petrus Belantran de Rosari, (Collectie Wertenbroek) and says that he served as acting Raja until Servus returned from Java in 1910. For this discrepancy I have no explanation.

3 Dietrich (1997 : 145-146 n. 46) gives Servus’s ceremonial name as Raja Usi Le Seberang Tuan Kinu Padu Ilé. Usi, he points out, was the name of his father and of his father’s father’s father, Le Seberang the name of his father’s father’s brother and father’s fathers’ father’s father’s father, Kinu the name of his father’s father, and Padu Ilé possibly the name of his father’s father’s brother and certainly the name of his father’s father’s father’s father and of an ancestor in the direct male line fifteen generations before him. For a general discussion of Larantuka names see Dietrich (1997 : 81-84). The full version of the name Usi is Usi Neno which come from the Atoni language of Timor where it means “Sun Lord”, male principle as opposed to Usi Afu “Earth Woman”, the female principle (Couvreur 1924).

4 “Zinken was authorized to act as chargé d’affaires for Don Lorenzo, but this authorization proved to be worthless” (Steenbrink 2003 : 96 n. 85).

5 Dietrich reports, following van Rietschoten (1913 :9), that Schmiedeman served only fourteen months because he was “not satisfactory” (Dietrich 1989 : 78). See Laan (1962-1968 : 1489).

6 The Korte Verklaring was introduced in the Dutch East Indies after the end of the Acheh war. Drafted in part by Snouck Hurgronje in response to proposals of Governor General van Heutz, it was designed to require that Rajas declare that their realms belonged to Netherlands’ territory and to completely subject them and their subjects to Dutch authority, as well as ensuring their obedience to orders (Spit 1911 : 88 ; Verbeek 1919 : 456-457).

7 He was confirmed on 25 June 1912 (Mailrapport 900/19, Logeman).

8 Raja Lorenzo II had indeed attempted on several occasions to collect taxes in Sikka, but these incidents can be taken as evidence of changing times (Barnes 2009a : 97-99).

9 Six months later on 11 June 1912 Raja Servus married Philomena Nini (Laan 1962-1968 : 1490). A year later on 10 August 1913, the first of Servus’s sons Lorenzo was born. This son eventually became Raja Lorenzo III, the last to serve as the Raja of Larantuka (Laan 1962-1968 : 1561).

10 Magdalena had a twin sister named Catharina (or Katharina) who married Sengaji, Kakang of Pamakayo, Solor.

11 Bujung was the brother of Antonio Belantran de Rosari who, as acting Raja, later replaced Servus (Collectie Wertenbroek).

12 The title of Kakang was held by the hereditary head of each of the ten districts that made up the realm of Larantuka. I have no information about additional uses of this title and none about its being given to the sons of Servus.

13 Hangelbroek (1938 : 13) states that Lorenzo took over as acting Raja on 1 November 1937 and was confirmed in office on 7 December 1937.

14 (Guru Olla Diaz Vieira’s Hikajat Asalusul Radja Larantuka dan Beberapa Kuluarga Tentang Orang jg. tsb. Dalam Staamboom in Collectie Wertenbroek). A contemporary account with photographs of the couple mentions hundreds of boats in Maumere harbor, but the photograph of the “Larantuka fleet” arriving in the harbor with the new Raja clearly shows that the boats are from Lamalera, Lembata (Anonymous 1938).

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Robert H. Barnes, « Raja Servus of Larantuka, Flores, Eastern Indonesia »Moussons, 16 | 2010, 39-56.

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Robert H. Barnes, « Raja Servus of Larantuka, Flores, Eastern Indonesia »Moussons [En ligne], 16 | 2010, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2012, consulté le 28 novembre 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Robert H. Barnes

R. H. Barnes is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford and a specialist on eastern Indonesia. He is the author of Kédang : A Study of the Collective Thought of an Eastern Indonesian People, Oxford : Clarendon Press (1974) and Sea Hunters of Indonesia : Fishers and Weavers of Lamalera, Oxford : Clarendon Press (1996). He may be reached at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, 51 Banbury Rd., Oxford ; OX2 6PE, England.

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