The Significance of Tu Gelu Traditional Medical Treatment: Sociological Case of the Lio People at Ngalukoja Village, Ende Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia


  • Zainur Wula Department of Sociology, Universitas Muhammadiyah, Kupang, Indonesia
  • Idris Mboka Department of Sociology, Universitas Muhammadiyah, Kupang, Indonesia



Tu Gelu, Traditional medical treatment, East Nusa Tenggara, Semiotics, Symbolic interactionism


This study aims to describe the meaning of

tu gelu

in the traditional medical treatment of Lio people in Ngalukoja Village, Ende Regency, East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia.

Tu gelu

is a traditional healing method carried out by the Lio people by exchanging items that symbolize cattle such as bulls or pigs, to heal a person who is sick from supernatural disturbances or from fever. This method is mediated by a shaman, who carries out several stages in the healing process. It includes


(where the shaman measures his chest to his right hand using the span of his left hand) to know the cause of the sickness. This is a descriptive qualitative research with the phenomenological paradigm. It uses the snowball technique to acquire information from informants. It uses symbolic interactionism and semiotics to analyze the research objects. The results show that from the symbolic interactionism analysis, material symbols are exchanged with the patient’s health. The semiotic theory shows that the figures serve as icons; kitchen ash, chicken feather, and spells serve as indexes; finally, the items prepared as the offerings to the genie serve as symbols. The Ngalukoja villagers of East Nusa Tenggara believe that using the tu gelu healing method that contains various signs, the patient will fully revive from the illness.


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How to Cite

Wula Z, Mboka I. The Significance of Tu Gelu Traditional Medical Treatment: Sociological Case of the Lio People at Ngalukoja Village, Ende Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Open Access Maced J Med Sci [Internet]. 2021 Sep. 26 [cited 2023 Feb. 11];9(F):418-22. Available from:



Narrative Review Article