Sumba, formerly known as the Sandalwood Island,
is known foe its horses and Sumba clothe. Sandalwood was the only
known cure for many diseases until penicillin was invented. The
Sumbanese traded with the Chinese until the 16th century, after
which the Arabs became the most important trading partner until
the early 20th century. The island is famous for its arts and handicrafts,
particularly the textile "ikat" weaving. Sumba, however,
is not for everyone. Neither the food nor accommodations are up
to international standards. But if we are willing to make a little
effort we can see an authentic, ancient culture with none of the
layers of Hinduism or Islam mostly found elsewhere in the country.
The island has a small population and a dry tropical
climate. In total Sumba have more hours of sunshine than any other
place in Indonesia. The land resembles Southern Africa or Australia,
with scattered small villages and herds of cattle and buffalo Sumba
is off the beaten track. Transport system and roads are infrequently
used. Most hotels in main towns are simple, only catering for the
adventurous. However, CNN etc. are available for those wishing to
stay in touch with the outside world. Beaches are long and clean.
Water is clear and abundant in fish, and there is great surf.
The island is roughly oval in shape. The greatest
concentration of those who worship sprits (ancestral and those of
the land) is found in West Sumba where two-thirds of the population
holds on their traditional belief. It is here where incredible rituals
take place, the "pasola" where hundreds of horsemen fling
spears at each other. The government allows the ritual to take place,
but the spears must be blunt. Although some exist in East Sumba,
it is in West Sumba that one can find a greater number of huge megalithic
tombs and traditional thatched and peaked huts raise on stilts.
Many traditional activities, all with a part paying
homage to the spirits, take place in the month of July through October.
These include the building of "adapt" houses and burials
when sometimes hundreds of pigs, water buffaloes, horses, and dogs
are sacrificed. Other ceremonies include the "pajura"
or traditional boxing, the festivals for lunar New Year in October
and November, and August 17, Independence Day, horse races and ritual
West Sumba .....
East Sumba ....