Leti leti

Last updated
Some Javanese people and a European on a leti leti, before 1917. COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Javanen en een Europeaan op plezierzeilschip in een haven in Java TMnr 10010679.jpg
Some Javanese people and a European on a leti leti, before 1917.

Leti leti is a type of traditional transport vessel from East Madura, Indonesia, especially from the administrative district of Sumenep. [1] The leti leti is a recent development, the hull form and sail were developed in the 19th century. In 1979 sailing leti leti was numbered about 1000, but this was reduced in the next decades when more modern, motorized vessel appeared. [2]



Sekar Aman, a leti leti used for sailing to Australian shores to collect trepang (sea slug), turtle shell and trade with Indigenous Australians. Sekar Aman sketch new.jpg
Sekar Aman, a leti leti used for sailing to Australian shores to collect trepang (sea slug), turtle shell and trade with Indigenous Australians.

Leti leti is also known with other names and pronunciation, like leti-leti, letelete, lete lete, letek-letek, leteh-leteh, parao lete', and golekan lete. The origin of the name is unknown. In early 20th century the type was referred to in different publications as tekletek. This is however the same name, with the first syllable dropped: [le]tek-letek, as in [a]lisalis. [3] It may also possible that the name comes from the sail it used, the Madurese crab claw sail, or lete sail, which has just developed in the 19th century. In fact, the "lete" from lete sail is a local pronunciation of lateen sail, although the existence of lower yard indicate that it is a crab claw sail. [2]


A beached perahu lete' gole'an. Perahu lete' gole'an.png
A beached perahu lete' gole'an.

It is a "fat" vessel with short sternpost, with short mast located at the frontside of the deckhouse wall. They are using triangular sail with very long upper yard. The roof of the deckhouse oftentimes was steep with aftside being higher. At the sea, the small foresail often placed in the bow, and the third sail can be placed above the deckhouse. Madurese leti leti has pointed deckhouse roof with vertical post to support the rudder. [4] Leti leti from Giligenting, easily recognized by squared 'doghouse' abaft the main gabled deckhouse, were common sight at the late 1940s in ports all around the Java Sea, from Sumbawa to Riau. [5]

Leti leti from Sapudi distinguishable from Giligenting vessels by the lack of 'doghouse' aft, and were regarded as the most authentic examples of leti leti type. Some vessels from 1970s onward were very large, the largest of all leti leti, and following the motorization in early 1980s, some of them became larger, of a size to rival the largest Bugis vessels. [6] Leti-leti has about 12-41 tons gross tonnage, [7] while the larger leti leti is about 50 gt in weight. [8] The leti leti was an optimal design of small sailing cargo vessel for the Java sea, stoutly built with great load carrying capacity for its length and draught. A full laden leti leti usually doesn't have freeboard. [9] It can be crewed by only 2 crew, one is controlling the rudder, the other one managing the sails. [10]


A leti leti in a slipway. Cirebon, October 1947. Scheepswerf. Een zeilschip op de scheepshelling, Bestanddeelnr 389-6-4.jpg
A leti leti in a slipway. Cirebon, October 1947.

Fundamentally, leti leti is a merchant vessel used by Madurese people, just like pinisi of Bugis sailors. [10] Leti leti can be found in northern side of Timor islands to Singapore, but this vessel can also fish as far as Australian coast. Traditionally Madurese traders brought cattles to East Java from as far as Roti island and Kupang in Timor, they also carried salt, rice, and assembled goods out from Surabaya. [11] Modern leti leti, nevertheless, is not the right type of trading perahu for Eastern Indonesian islands: This boat couldn't sail through low tide straits or they're needed a long time to pass, or dealing with blowing winds and gusts around mountainous islands, so the type of perahu used there currently is the lambo. [12]

Mandarese leti leti

Mandarese sandalwood horses are washed alongside 2 type of Mandarese prahu (lete and pakoer). COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Mandarse sadopaarden worden gewassen bij Mandarse prauwen (lete en pakoer) TMnr 10010519.jpg
Mandarese sandalwood horses are washed alongside 2 type of Mandarese prahu (lètè and pakoer).

Since 1930s Mandar sailors has adopted the leti leti as one of their small trading perahu along with lambo and bago from West Sulawesi. Originally they got it from Madurese living alongside them in the mixed communities around Java sea such as Marumasa, Masalembu, and Kangean islands, but the current Mandarese vessels always different from Madura vessels. Their difference are Mandar-styled rudder mounting, flat roof on its deckhouse, the absence of paint pattern and black-colored stempost, but always clean, tidy, and organized. They also have flat, blade-shaped rudder that acts as centreboard at the stern of the vessel. In the 1970s many of them can be found on Paotere harbor, Makassar. In the present, they expand its trading range to around the Flores sea and Java sea to overcome poverty in homes. [13]

See also

Other Madurese vessels:

Other perahu from Nusantara:

Related Research Articles

Madura Island Island in Indonesia

Madura is an Indonesian island off the northeastern coast of Java. The island comprises an area of approximately 4,441.95 km2. Administratively, Madura is part of the province of East Java. It is separated from Java by the narrow Strait of Madura. The administered area has a density of 744 people per km2 while main island has a somewhat higher figure of 826 per km2in 2020.

Madurese people Ethnic group in Indonesia

The Madurese are an ethnic group originally from the island of Madura now found in many parts of Indonesia, where they are the third-largest ethnic group by population. Common to most Madurese throughout the archipelago is the Islamic religion and the use of the Madurese language.


A jukung or kano, also known as cadik is a small wooden Indonesian outrigger canoe. It is a traditional fishing boat, but newer uses include "Jukung Dives", using the boat as a vehicle for small groups of SCUBA divers.

Crab claw sail Triangular sail with spars along upper and lower edges used by traditional Austronesians

The crab claw sail is a fore-and-aft triangular sail with spars along upper and lower edges. The crab claw sail was first developed by the Austronesian peoples some time around 1500 BC. It is used in many traditional Austronesian cultures in Island Southeast Asia, Micronesia, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Madagascar. Due to its extraordinary performance and ease-of-operation, it has also become very popular in modern sport sailing. It is sometimes known as the Oceanic lateen or the Oceanic sprit, even though it is not restricted to Oceania, is neither a lateen sail nor a spritsail, and has an independent older origin.


Literally, the word pinisi refers to a type of rigging of Indonesian sailing vessels. A pinisi carries seven to eight sails on two masts, arranged like a gaff-ketch with what is called 'standing gaffs' - i.e., unlike most Western ships using such a rig, the two main sails are not opened by raising the spars they are attached to, but the sails are 'pulled out' like curtains along the gaffs which are fixed at around the centre of the masts.

Lambo (boat)

The term lambo or lamba refer to two types of traditional boats from Indonesia.


A Sandeq is a type of outrigger sailboat or trimaran used by the Mandarese people for fishing and as a means of transportation between islands. The size of Sandeq varies, with hulls ranging from 5 to 15 metres long and 0.5 to 1.5 metres wide. Its carrying capacity ranges from a few hundred kilograms to over 2 tons. The sleek shape of the Sandeq makes it more agile and faster than other sailboats. The name of the vessel comes from a word in the Mandar language that means pointy, referring to the bow's shape.


Padewakang were traditional boats used by the Bugis, Mandar, and Makassar people of South Sulawesi. Padewakang were used for long distance voyages serving the south Sulawesi kingdoms.

Mayang (boat)

Perahu Mayang or simply mayang is a type of fishing boat from Java, Indonesia. This type of boat is used mainly for fishing and trading. Historically, this indigenous vessel is also favored by European skippers and private merchants for trading in East Indies: 50% of them were using mayang and pencalang. It is mostly used in northern coast of Java. The major production site is in Rembang, Central Java.


Patorani is a traditional fishing boat from Makassar, Indonesia. It is used by Macassan people for fishing, transport, and trading since at least 17th century A.D. Historically this type of boat was used by Gowa Sultanate as war boat.


Golekan is a type of traditional boat from Madura, Indonesia. They once plied as far as Singapore, where they are referred to as Madurese traders. In the present this type of boat is only known locally, especially near Bangkalan in Western Madura and around the Kangean islands.

Lis-alis Type of traditional vessel from Madura

Lis-alis is a type of traditional boat of Madura, Indonesia. Lis-alis usually present in canals that provide salt evaporation service in southern part of Madura and around Surabaya. Until the present, lis-alis remained overwhelmingly popular as a fishing craft in Bangkalan and Sukolilo, while a larger version, the kroman, has been used in this area for at least a century for inshore transport work.


Janggolan refers to two different type of perahu from Indonesia. One is from Madura, and the other from Bali. The Madurese janggolan is a type of indigenously constructed boat, meanwhile Balinese janggolan is an indigenous boat with western-styled hull construction.

Palari (boat)

Palari is a type of Indonesian sailing vessel from South Sulawesi. It was mainly used by the people of Ara and Lemo Lemo, for transporting goods and people. This vessel is rigged with pinisi rig, which often makes it better known as "Pinisi" instead of its name. In Singapore, palari is known as "Makassartrader".

Pajala (boat)

Pajala is a type of traditional perahu from western South Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is used mainly for fishing, but in the present it's a Bugis/Makassar name for small to medium-sized boat hull.

Bago (boat)

A bago is a traditional boat built by the Mandar people of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The hull is of the pajala-type, lightly built and allowing for shallow displacement. The boat is long, with the mast only making up a quarter of its length. A bago can be readily identified as Mandarese boat by its rudderpost style. Smaller-sized bagos are often used as fishing boats from which fishermen cast their nets. The Mandar people prefer using a bago over an outrigger canoe.


Paduwang is a traditional double-outrigger vessel from Madura, Indonesia. It is built with planks instead of single log, and used for fishing, trading and transport of people and goods near Madura island. In the 19th century, Paduwang was a popular fishing craft in East Java.


Orembai or Arombai is a type of plank boat from the Maluku Islands of Eastern Indonesia. It is mainly used for fishing and transport. This vessel is used as far as Batavia, where in the 17th century it became popular to go out "orembaaien" on an evening rowing on the river or city canals.

Bagan (fishing)

Bagan or bagang is a fishing instrument that uses nets and lights so that it can be used for light fishing, originating from Indonesia. Bagan is floated out to the sea to catch fishes, squids, and shrimps, and remain in the sea for several days or even months. The catch would be transported to land using other boats.


  1. Stenross. (2007). p. 83.
  2. 1 2 Horridge. (1981). p. 82.
  3. Piollet, Paul (1995). Equipages et voiliers de Madura. Ternant.
  4. Horridge. (1981). p. 82.
  5. Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1950). "The Indonesian trading boats reaching Singapore". Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 25 (1): 108–138.
  6. Stenross. (2007). p. 112.
  7. Stenross. (2007). p. 242.
  8. Stenross. (2007). p. 244.
  9. Stenross. (2007). p. 110.
  10. 1 2 Horridge. (1981). p. 83.
  11. Horridge. (1981). p. 84.
  12. Horridge. (1981). p. 85.
  13. Horridge. (1981). p. 85-86.

Further reading