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Ruteng, Indonesia

Spider Web Rice Fields

The unique design was created by the traditional way communal rice paddies were divided up among the indigenous people. 

The colorful rice paddies found throughout Asia are commonly laid out in rectangular plots, or sometimes as stepped terraces, adding to their natural beauty. On the island of Flores, however, the rice fields form a delightfully unique shape, one that looks like a giant spider web.

This wonderful insect resemblance was not intentional, but rather the result of the traditional communal agriculture of the indigenous Manggarai people. Centuries ago, the cultivated land, known as lingko, was shared by the entire village. The communal fields were circular, with the lodok at the center, where ceremonial rituals were held around the harvest.

Each family was allocated a segment of the rice field, radiating from the center outward. (Each was inaugurated by the sacrifice of a water buffalo.) The more resources a family had, the larger their slice of the pie; at the time, the rice fields were shaped like pie charts. Later, the paddies were further subdivided by the decedents of the original owners, leading to the striking, web-like shape of the lingko today.

Know Before You Go

The best examples of spider web fields can be seen in Cancar village, just west of Ruteng. Bemos and cars can be chartered from Ruteng. The drivers will know the best viewpoints for the fields.