Dynastic Head

Don Leopold Isu Nisnoni was born in 1936 as the son of the Crown Prince of Kupang, Raja Muda Alfonsus Nisnoni and a Princess from Termanu/Rote, who was later called the Kartine of the Timor area.

Raja Don Leopold Nisnoni is the current heir to the Kingdom of Kupang and the Head of the Royal House of Kupang and the Nisnoni Dynasty in West Timor, Indonesia.
 The current Raja of Kupang succeeded as the the Head of the Royal House of Kupang on 14th November 1992. He was the Vice Chairman of the Council of Timorese Rajas (Dewan Usif Timor) and as present serves as the Secretary.

His descendants are a part of the history of West Timor and Timor itself for hundreds of years and descend from an Imperial line. The Nisnoni Rajas and Liurais descent from the oldest eligible son of Sonbai (sub) Emperor, but they had to go the area, where there are now and stayed on, accepting their situation.

At present, he plays a crucial role in the areas of social culture and local customary aspects. He is still a cultural and customary leader recognised by the people of Nusa Tenggara Timor Province of which Kupang is the capital city and as the custodian and beholder of culture and custom.

He had much European style upbringing during his many years in Holland together with a Timorese upbringing providing him a mindset that is both traditional and open. The Raja because of various situations and circumstances has met many Western individuals and scholars from Europe, the USA, Australia and the like. Through his various involvement with the network of Indonesian royalty, his dignity as chief of the Raja Dynasty of Kupang is respected.

The Raja was born at a time, when the Rajas were still seen as divine persons and this great reverence went on unto the 1950s. A Raja could ask God to make rain for instanceHis grandfather was then ruling Kupang, The Usif (meaning King), Raja Nicolaas Nisnoni - a King full of qualities and his grandmother in Kupang of Prince Leopold was a princess of a more inland lying area of Amarasi. His grandmother was a sweet and loving royal for her grandson, but a little more traditional in her outlook towards life. 

Also in that time royalty still must marry royalty only and all the more, especially, when they were ruling royalty.

The Second World War was the first shock for Prince Leopold on his traditional island of Timor. After World War II, the times had changed resulting in new, heavier tasks and responsibilities for the rajas, so the future king shall be better prepared.

Don Leopold Nisnoni in a photo between his grandparents prior to his departure for Holland 

At the age of 12, Prince Leopold left Kupang with a former very high level official of the court of justice in Kupang to Holland to continue his education and to gain a wider perspective in his life. He stayed with the family of this official for a couple of years, with only his very good friend there who really knew, that he was the Crown Prince of Kupang, born of extremely high birth. In Holland, he had learned to live differently and also learnt much about life from a different perspective away from his courtly life in Kupang. 

In Holland, the Prince first completed his basic schooling and did most of high school. He learned much of the modern and rebuilt Holland. But, in the north of Holland, where he stayed most of the time, he lived with no contact with any Indonesians. 
To ensure that his roots were maintained with Indonesia, he returned to study in Indonesia at a Bandung Dutch high school. The Raja then went back to Timor after an absence of about 10 years. He came back to a Timor that had changed.

The mind of the Raja as a Timorese Crown Prince of 22 years old was now European oriented and he was very motivated to bring the spirit of modernization and a new era (the good things of it) to his people, but at that time independence and being proud of the own Indonesian culture was the spirit then.

After working in the office of the meat canning factory of father in Kupang, who had by now had already agreed willingly to have Kupang to join the new Indonesian nation (his father was the first Indonesian to start a factory in Indonesia). In Kupang, he wanted to make a career in the government, but his views at that time were considered as much too modern and European oriented.

However he was given the chance to prove himself through the support of a Timorese Royal in a very high position who understood the young Prince. With hard work he managed to become the director of the printing company of the total province of Nusa Tenggara Timor (NTT). He was soon known, as the man, who was always a bit better than others due to the discipline and qualities that he had learned in both Indonesia and Europe.

With the money from his career he built a modern residence on the place of the palaces of the former Rajas of his dynasty. The last palace here was destroyed in World War II.

The Raja with various Indonesian Royals and a representative of the Dutch Nobility
during a past South East Asian Royals Festival

When his father died in 1992 it was the question, who would become the Liurai of Sonbai Kecil. That was an automatic succession. The Rajadom of Kupang was an elective dignity; but in fact semi-automatic. His dynastic members supported Prince Leopold to succeed to the throne as he was the rightful heir and in 1992 he became the Liurai of Sonbai Kecil.

From then on, he spent more of his time on traditional affairs of his people. He gradually moved away from his job with the printing company and only stayed on as advisor. Due to him being a good tennis player (sport number one in Indonesia), he was able to earn an income also as a tennis teacher and being member of the local provincial tennis association.

The Raja and his family with his parents in the 1980s

The jazz loving Raja became known since about 1995 into more international networks. People became more interested to research on local dynasties and because the Raja speaks 5-6 languages, he could be of immense help and be a bridge of trust between the local dynasties of the province and the western dynasties. That was because all of the Raja dynasties know him, because he was an important man before in the local  provincial government.

So he worked for opening up the NTT dynasties to the outside world from then until present time.So he visted all the dynasties of West-Timor, the 19 dynasties of the island of Rote, the dynasties of Kolana,Alor,Kui and Batulolong on Alor,the dynasties of Blagar and Barnusa on Pantar,the dynasties of Lamakera and Lohayong on Solor,the dynasties of Terong and Lamahala on Adonara,the dynasties of Sikka, Larantuka and Manggarai on Flores,etc.

As he is the first Nusa Tenggara Timor (NTT) king to be member of the royalty network of Indonesia, he worked hard to let the other NTT dynasties to gain participation in this network He did that especially with help of the dynasty chiefs/rajas of Timorese Insana, Amanuban, Amfoan,Amanuban, Amabi, etc. and with his main Fettor (sub-king) of OEmatan.

Because of his international network many dynasties sought his assistance in becoming involved in the national royalty network. These days, he is regarded as the grand old man of the royalty network. Being very much reserved during royal meetings, but when he says something it is always taken as golden words of wisdom.

As a young man due to his strong love, he married Dona Fredrika Lino, a noblewoman born on Flores and a member of the raja dynasty of Termanu. Despite, her not being a a daughter of a Raja or a Princess, he refused to give up his love for her. Her family also had many Muslims and thus the unity amongst Christians and Muslims within her own family. She was the wife the Prince neeeded, a woman who totally understood him. With her, the prince became happy in his life. The dynasty later saw how goof she was for their future king, they become more positive towards her.


The Raja and Ratu in Western Attire

His experience overseas and later a similar time in Indonesia made his character strong, so that he is always a king with an open mind to help others.

The dynasty had to divide and divest many of their royal lands over the years. They were given to the local people to live upon and the government to build various facilities for his people. At present, they do have some ownership over some locations especially the areas surrounding their residences. Here the current members of the Royal House of Kupang live within easy distance of each other.

The recent few years, the Raja also concentrates on religion. Because of him helping the local church and trying to seek more guidance in his life with the religion, his life is more blessed with opportunities and support where possible. 
But he still has so many things to do in his life for his people and to enjoy his own life. For the Raja of Kupang, the important aspect is to help others.

The Raja is regularly visited by researchers from Europe, America and Australia who visit him and undertake research into Timor and Kupang. Much research is being done by these researchers into the former Sonbai dynasty and Raja’s dynasty.

There exist much historical records in the west of the ancestors and lineage Don Leopold and his current position as head of the Royal House of Kupang and successor to the former empire of Sonbai. Even at the present moment, much historical research are being done by certain European professors on the Timor Kings with Don Leopold taking a prominent and guiding role for these researchers.

Even though the Raja is not involved in politics, he is well regarded by the provincial government and within the society in Kupang with his position as a cultural and traditional leader being the head of the Royal House of Kupang and the heir of the Kingdom of Kupang.

The President of Indonesia and the First Lady of Indonesia receiving the Raja and Ratu of Kupang
at the National Place in Jakarta on 29th November 2008 as part of the delegation of
recognised royal dynasties to meet the President of Indonesia

The Raja and Ratu of Kupang with the President and First Lady of Indonesia together with
other recognised dynastic heads at the National Palace in 2008

The Raja of Kupang and the Royal Dynasty of Kupang as one of the certain formerly ruling royal dynasties is recognized by the government of Indonesia on a cultural and traditional basis. Don Leopold Nisnoni is one of the few Christian Kings in Indonesia who is well regarded by the various other royal dynasties. Don Leopold maintains good relations with the various Rajas and Sultans in Indonesia including the larger former sultanates throughout Indonesia.

The Raja’s focus is for the development of cultural and traditional values while working towards friendship and peace amongst all and with all.

Some of the Raja’s children work within the provincial government in various capacities with the extended family being represented in various agencies relating to the administration of their province. The Raja is involved with various charitable activities involving people with special needs, providing education for children and mini projects to enable villagers in his location to earn sustainable incomes to support their families. 


The Raja and Ratu of Kupang
in an official photo during a national royalty event

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