The Sacred House

Ceramic Uma Timor
Ceramic Uma Timor, representing the Uma Lulik by Maria Teresa Freitas Xavier.
Image: David Loram
Source: Museum Victoria

Every community in Timor Leste has its own specific language, culture and traditions. They are connected by the common language Tetun, the worship of ancestors and the importance of the Uma Lulik – the Sacred House.

The Uma Lulik is a symbol of self-assurance and self-determination, of confidence, honour and the strength of a people loyal to andenriched by its ancestry. Its active role changes in each community, but throughout Timor Leste the Uma Lulik is the centre of spirituality and tradition. The Sacred House is so closely connected to the land that an Uma Lulik cannot be built outside Timor Leste, and permission to reproduce its form is rarely given.

Artists who are inspired by the Uma Lulik find a way of representing it through models of traditional East Timorese houses, Uma Timor. When an Uma Timor is displayed, it is often referred to as Uma Lulik, in recognition of its symbolic connection.

The celebration of Loron Matebian, All Souls Day, on 2 November each year, strengthens and confirms our connection to the land of Timor Leste and its spiritual heart, the Uma Lulik.

Image Gallery

Traditional house Traditional house Sketch of an Uma Lulik Traditional house