Travel Report Sumba | Pasola-Ceremony

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Travel Report Sumba | Pasola-Ceremony

Sumba, Pasola-Ceremony

Wanokaka / Westsumba


Kind of travel: Travelling alone
Year of this voyage: 2000
Author's age: 45-60 years

South of Flores, still belonging to the archipelago of Nusa Tenggara, there is the island of Sumba, famous for its traditional horse fighting Pasola, celebrated as part of its rites. In March 2000 we could participate in this ceremony south of Waikabubak (West-Sumba) aside the shore of Wanokaka (Kampung Waigali).

Travel Destination Sumba
Traditional Horse Fighting

Sumba, an Indonesian privince with still a few travellers


Village Center with Graves
Village Center with Graves

Each 8th or 9th day after full moon in the months of February and March a certain kind of red worms Nyale can be seen near the coast. Here we met with the villagers expecting their chiefs and priests. By the kind of the Nyale's movements and by the condition of hearts and levers of ritual killed chicken the priest can tell the villagers about their next harvest and about important events that will appear in the island's future. After that the Pasola can start on a broad square in the countryside. On their fast Sumba horses the men are skilled riders, who fight their combats without saddle and nowadays with blunt spears. In former times there had been lots of wounded and dead warriors, but today people don't take it so serious anymore.

Rato Hikit in front of Stone Graves in his Village Waigali
Rato Hikit in front of Stone Graves in his Village Waigali

During the pasola Rato Hikit performed as Dangu Duka the rites together with the counsel of priests and chiefs. When the pasola was finished we visited him in his traditional house in the village of Waigali.



Rato Hikit
Rato Hikit


After we had donated our small gifts, we had been welcomed, as it's habit, with betel nut pinang, which was chewed together with Sirih, a plant and Kapur Sirih, a kind of lime from shells. Soon our mouth changed into deep red and we got heavy headache with giddiness.
To my question about how many children he had engendered with his nine women he just answered: Many ...
His youngest wife was just 15 years old and had already born her first child from Rato Hikit.

Sumba is also famous for its valuable ikat-textiles, which are very different in colour and design to the ones on other islands. These traditional cloths are almost dyed with natural colours in blue and in a soil coloured orange; they show animals and tell stories. On special holidays these cloths are worn as sarong.

Gerhard Waldner
Gerhard Waldner

Born in Ludwigshafen at the River Rhine (Germany), Gerhard was fascinated to discover foreign countries since his early schooldays. Mostly by bicycle and motorcycle he travelled through more than 60 countries. During a his life he found enough time to travel to faraway regions, he was interested in.

Since 2006 he is living mostly in his house in Bali with his Balinesse wife Yuni. He always felt drawn to the island of Bali, with its people, culture, religion and its countryside. More than 17.500 islands of the Indonesian archipelago are lying now in front of his doorstep, waiting to be discovered.

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Gerhard in front of Rato Hikit's House
Gerhard in front of Rato Hikit's House

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Travel Reports from Indonesia:
Sulawesi, Palu   Sumba, Pasola-Ceremony

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Travel Report Sumba | Pasola-Ceremony