Reading the pleiades star to forecast the rain: etnoastronomy of smallholder farmers in Kisar Island - Southwest Maluku

Heryanus Jesajas, Brury Tumiwa

Abstract


This paper describes about indigenous knowledge and practice of smallholder farmers in Kisar island relate to rain forecasting through observing the Pleiades stars or the seven sisters stars. We reflected from a project on incorporating farmers’ indigenous knowledge into sustainable agriculture development in small islands context and four times visits in Kisar island (1999-2011). Critical question raised is to what extent the knowledge is valid and relevance. The notion of the study was a phenomenological study. A phenomenological analysis is purely description of an immediate lived experience and an expression of its meaning (Berger and Luckman, 1976; van Manen, 1990). Rationality in phenomenology is justified by an understanding of the essence of such experience rather than just causal explanation. It recognizes the important of the context and the individual construction of perception and meaning in that context. Snowball technique was applied to find the respondents or indigenous
knowledge holders. Data analysis was conducted descriptively using Ethnograph v.6. The results showed that the farmers forecast the rainfall by observing the onzet and the appearance of the Pleiades stars or the seven sisters and gauging the size and the brightness of the seventh sister of the Pleiades to predict
the characteristics of the rainfall. Brighter shine and bigger appearance means more rain will come; diming and small means less rain


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