Sumba was identified for centuries as a source of sandalwood, slaves, and horses as well as a land of cannibal tribes, today is renowned for its sculptured megalithic tombs, war game rituals and intricate textiles. Sumba is approximately 300 km long and 80 wide, the island is divided politically and climatically into two parts. West Sumba is more wealthy half, higher and so lush and green during the rainy season. It is also more culturally varied, with separate linguistic groups. People of West Sumba live in huts with picked roofs. Agricultural communities thrive and ancestral and land worship are still strong. East Sumba is dry and rocky and mountainous, with the highest peak, Wangga Meti, t 1,225 metres. Most of people live in close proximity to or on the coastline, and extensive hand-loom industry has flourished for several centuries, producing characteristic woven ikat. In spite of modernization, the old traditions remain and the social organization in Sumba is ordered according to customary law, the main aim of traditional Sumbanese religion is to maintain a undisturbed relationship with ancestral spirits. The most impressive ceremony on Sumba is the Pasola, a ritual battle with spears featuring hundred of horsemen.


Waingapu is the biggest town in Sumba, the island's seaport and administrative capital of East Sumba district. Near Waingapu, at the villages Prailiu and Kwangu, is produced the finest Sumbanese ikat cloth.

Waikabubak, a little district town in West Sumba, is full of old graves carved in motifs of buffalo- horns, man-heads, horses, nude men or women symbolising social status or the wealth of the people. There are following tombs: Kadung Tana, Watu Karagata, and Bulu Peka Mila.

Tarung village, an important ceremonial centre, is located on top of a hill, near Waikabubak. There are several megalithic tombs. Fronts of many traditional houses are decorated with huge water buffalo horns from the animals sacrificed during rituals.

Anakalang village has a large graveyard and, the largest in Sumba, megalithic tombs with unusual carvings.

The Pasola
The Pasola is the most exciting ceremony on Sumba, it is a ritual fight with spears featuring hundreds of horsemen. It is a wild and warlike event. The Pasola takes place a few days after the second and third full moons of the solar year - February in Lamboya and Kodi, March in Gaura and Wanukaka - and culminates in the spring ritual cycle; coincide with the yearly arrival to shore of strange, multihued sea-worms.
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