Leti leti

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]


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]


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]


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

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:


  1. Stenross. (2007). p. 83.
  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. Horridge. (1981). p. 83.
  11. Horridge. (1981). p. 84.
  12. Horridge. (1981). p. 85.
  13. Horridge. (1981). p. 85-86.

Further reading

  • Horridge, Adrian. (1981). The Prahu: Traditional Sailingboat of Indonesia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Stenross, Kurt. (2007). The Seafarers and Maritime Entrepreneurs of Madura: History, Culture, and Their Role in the Java Sea Timber Trade. Murdoch University, Perth, Australia.
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