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Sumba Island

The island of Sumba is noted for its megalithic tombs (mainly in the west) fine ikat cloth (Mainly in the east) and horseback –fighting festivals. Lying outside the volcanic arc that runs through java and the other island of Nusa Tenggara, the generally subdue relief of Sumba present a startling contrast to Java, Bali and Flores- because Sumba lies off the usual overland route through the lesser Sundas which runs through Flores Sumbawa to Lombok and Bali-the island is relatively untouristed. Sumba is a real treasure house for the visitor interested in art and culture.

Unlike the other islands of east Nusa Tenggara, Sumba never come under the early influence off either Muslim or Christian missionaries and, as a result, traditional beliefs are much stronger here. The same goes for the islands material culture, Megalithic tombs and Ancestral, thatched house remain easily accessible, and Sumba’s distinctive traditional Ikat blankets continue to be made in large numbers (in part because of demand from outsiders). Finally, there is Sumba’s energetic Pasola festival when massed ranks Horsemen engage in mock combat a ‘game’ which frequently result in serious  injury and sometimes in death, there is also excellent on the west coast and long, deserted Sandy beach.

Getting There

There are flight to Waingapu and Waikabubak/Tambolaka and Pelni ships also dock at ports of both town but not that in Waikabubak airport is 50 km from town, while the port is 65 km a way. A weekly Ferry Links Waingapu with Ende on Flores and the island of Sawu with Kupang.

Background & Geographic

Sumba is only 400 km long and 90 km wide, the four regencies of east Sumba is Waingapu, Middle Sumba is Anakalang and West Sumba is Waikabubak thene west South of Sumba is Waitabula. Middle And west regencies of Sumba are environmentally very different. While the east and west south of Sumba regency the two island is generally dry (annual rainfall 684mm) and barren, the middle west and west part is considerably wetter (1,830mm) and consequently much greener. The dry season stretches over Seven to eight months, from April to October.

During these months, the rolling landscape is dry and desolate, in times past Sumba was known as the ‘Sandalwood isle ‘but destruction of these forests For commercial gain has left much of the island. Especially in the east and west south, fit only for extensive Cattle grazing and horse raising. The island’s population is about 425.000. These day’s Sumba’s wealth Is based on the export of horses and buffaloes.


Historically, Sumba was known as a source of horse’s slaves and sandalwood, but lying as it does to the south of island arc of Nusa Tenggara. It managed to escape the successive streams of Hindu. Muslim and Christian interlopers who influenced the area, it was never directly ruled from the outside. It was not until the Dutch arrived in the 17th century that western contact intensified. Even then, it was not. Until the early 20th century that a colonial administrator was installed. Sumba has nine mutually unintelligible languages, eight of which are concentrated in the more ecologically fertile west. This is probably due to conditions that did not force much co-dependence for Survival. In addition, each tribe has a highly sophisticated ritual linguistic form .In a ceremonial setting, Male participants call out reinforcing couplets, reminiscent of haiku. This can go on throughout the night. And following day, spontaneously improvised, getting more complex as the calls build up. An example
The horse’s tail is high (meaning the person in question has a noble spirit).the reply call, the dog has A black tongue. This refers to a glib talker that has kept his integrity.