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Sidu Baku
Bailing Basket (2007)
  • Made by Melikor Keraf
  • Lamalera village, Lembata
  • Lontar palm leaf
  • Height 17 cm. (7 in)
  • Code # C.LE.LA.003

Wilhelmus weaving strips of young lontar leaf, Lembata
The people of Lamalera bail out their handmade fishing boats with these sidu baskets, woven from lontar palm fronds. Large Lamalera fishing boats, called tena, seat about a dozen men, who row, bail, and handle the woven palm-leaf sail. One man stands in the bow with a bamboo harpoon, scanning the waves for sharks, manta rays, and whales.

The peoples of eastern Indonesia exploit every part of the lontar palm tree (Borassus flabellifer). Full-grown lontar leaves are plaited into roofs and sleeping mats. Young, un-opened lontar fronds are curved into containers to carry water or collect palm sap, or are woven into hats, bags, and baskets. Sweet, milky lontar sap is an invaluable source of food for some traditional communities, especially during the long dry seasons. The sap can also be boiled down into nutritious syrup or lumps of red-brown sugar.