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Jakarta Post

Money, barter and Christmas joy

Jakarta   /   Fri, December 22, 2017   /  10:25 am
Money, barter and Christmas joy Long ago, when the first Christmas took place in the peaceful town of Bethlehem, shepherds carried sheep on their shoulders and three kings came from the east with gold, incense and myrrh to find the holy baby. (Shutterstock/File)

In monetary transactions, as described by Toeti Heraty in her 1985 poem, New York I Love You, the owner of a dozen roses feels that she is robbed of her beloved commodity when she sells her flowers. Although she receives US$5 in exchange, she feels her lovely roses are more valuable, because to her, a dollar bill is merely a piece of paper functioning as a means to an end.

Unlike modern monetary transactions, in a traditional barter exchange, as still faithfully practiced among Lamaholot communities in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), both the buyer and the seller are satisfied, because their respective needs are fulfilled instantaneously. 

Monetary transactions are impersonal by nature, in contrast to the personal character of bartering.

On market days, Lamalera women in Flores, NTT, offer whale meat, salt and other ocean commodities to th...

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.