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Nusa Tenggara Timur (Southeastern Islands East) is a province of Indonesia, located in the eastern portion of the Lesser Sunda Islands, including West Timor. The provincial capital is Kupang, located on West Timor.

Except for occasional references found in Javanese and Chinese sources, the islands of Nusa Tenggara Timur were not mentioned in historical documents in any detail until the 16th century, when the Portuguese arrived in the area. They made Solor (an eastern island off the mainland Flores) the centre of their trade. Repeated attacks on Solor by Javanese seafaring traders suggest that the island had already been used as a trading port by the Javanese of Majapahit. The small island called Pulau Ende in the Bay of Ende seems to have served the same purpose for them

In 1561, the first Bishop in Malaka sent three missionaries to Solor, where, after an attack by Javanese Muslims, they constructed a fortress. The Portuguese constructed also a fortress on Pulau Ende. The two fortresses were the main scenes of the struggle among the Portuguese, Muslims and, later on, the Dutch.

Even though the formal transference of Flores from the Portuguese to the Dutch took place as late as 1851 and 1859 (of eastern Flores), the Portuguese began to lose their control over this part after 1657, when the Dutch East India Company established Fort Concordia in Kupang and the Dutch began to set a strong hold on the area. 

The Dutch East India Company’s involvement in eastern Indonesia ended in 1796 when the Company’s charter expired. Then came a new era of Dutch Colonial rule in the East Indies.

In 1839, the raja of Ende (Bousou) concluded a contract with the Dutch Colonial Government. By Gouverments Besluit of 14 Jan. 1879 no. 11. the district was divided into 4 onderafdeelingen (subdistricts) – Larantuka, North Flores, Solor and Alor.  Later the islands were united in the Residentie Timor en Onderhoorigheden (Timor and Dependencies Residence) which also comprised Sumbawa.

In 1938 the islands became a part of the Groote Oost province which, after Japanese occupation, became the Negara Indonesia Timoer in 1946. This state was incoporated into the Republik Indonesia in 1950. In 1958, Nusa Tenggara Timur was created by law Undang-Undang No. 64/1958. The province consists of about 550 islands, but is dominated by the three main islands of Flores, Sumba, and West Timor, the western half of the island of Timor. The eastern part of Timor is the independent country of East Timor (Timor Leste). Some other islands are Adonara, Alor, Komodo, Lembata, Menipo, Raijua, Rincah, Rote Island (the southernmost island in Indonesia), Savu, Semau, and Solor.

The province is divided into twelve regencies.


The Emblem



The achievement of Nusa Tenggara Timur is:


Emblem: A harpoon per bend, charged with a komodo monitor (Varanus komodoensis - Varanidæ), in base a waringin-tree.

Crest: A five-pointed star Or.

Garland: A branch of cotton and an ear of rice.

Motto: NUSA TENGGARA TIMUR on a ribbon in chief and the date 1958 in base.

Backshield: Per bend Gules and Or.


ðSee illustration in the head of this essay.


                                   Komodo monitor                               



The Komodo monitor (Varanus komodoensis) is a large species of lizard found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang. A member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae), it is the largest living species of lizard, growing to an average length of 2 to 3 metres and weighing around 70 kilograms. Their unusual size has been attributed to island gigantism, since there are no other carnivorous animals to fill the niche on the islands where they live. The species is named after Komodo island, situated west of Flores, which is its main habitat.

Komodo monitors were first recorded by Western scientists in 1910. Nevertheless they have a look- alike in the European heraldic salamander which was the personal badge of King Francis I of France (1515-’47).






19th century captains (orang brani) on Timor and the adjacent islands were excessively dressed. Short trousers or loinclothes were simple enough but they also wore jewels of silver or ivory and had a large golden plate on their breasts. The sheath of their swords was decorated with colored goat’s hair.  On their backs there were large crests made of feathers and all kinds of materials.



A captain from Timor and a captain from Solor in full war attirement.  Early 19th century. [1]


After 1895 the islands were supervised by the K.N.I.L. and in WWII were administered by the Japanese Navy. After the war the Dutch Army Command Timor and Onderhoorigheden was stationed on West Timor.

Today Nusa Tenggara Barat is controlled by TNI Kodam IX/Udayana.


Arms of Troepencommando Timor and Onderhoorigheden



Arms of Kodam IX /Udayana

The horse and horse-shoe were chosen because good carrying horses for the army were bred on Timor.

The bird in the arms of Udayana is the Sang Raja Walik from the achievement of the Republc. On its breast is a corrupted version of a viśvajra or double thunderbolt, the arms of the (tantric-buddhist) heaven, from the Acintya-sculpture in the Bali Museum.






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© Hubert de Vries 2011-03-11

[1] From: Temminck, C.J.: Verhandelingen over de Natuurlijke Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche overzeesche bezittingen. 1839-1847

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