Costly Ikats and a Unique Religion

The Meaning of Ikat on Sumba

To witness the pasola, one of the most spectacular ceremonies in the whole of Indonesia, deeply rooted in a broad range of fertility ceremonies in Nusa Tenggara, you will have to visit Sumba during the rainy season, somewhere in February or March. If you have a particular interest in primitive cultures, strange beliefs and archaic villages, you could come anytime. Throughout the whole year, the megalithic gravesites, remarkably peaked houses are to be found on this hot, dry island, one of the most southern in the archipelago. The eastern part is most renowned for its ikat technique, an ancient weaving technique known on all islands east of Bali. But in no other place than Sumba it got elevated to such a complex, artistic form and to such an extend that it became a costly link with the past, a timeless symbol of the spirit world. In virtually all the villages of east Sumba, you'll see women busy with their simple weaving looms, plain cotton and vegetable paints, creating a fabulous reflection symbolizing the world of the deceased forefathers. Motives may vary slightly, but the elements that always return, are Chinese dragons, tiny human figures, birds, turtles and lizards, very often mixed with geometric patterns. It is just amazing how all these elements time after time get combined in exquisite textiles...

The western part of the island is the home and heartland of Marapu belief, a peculiar religion penetrated by deep animist elements. The megalithic graves in Tarung, just outside the commercial center of Waingkabubak, prove this religion very much alive today.




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