Cultural Heritage of Sumba
 
Customs
The Indonesian word used for this is adat, meaning traditional laws that have been passed down from generation to generation. Adat forms a structural guide that the people follow for security. The most obvious custom you will see here in Sumba is the chewing the betel nuts or more properly called �Sirih-Pinang�. It is a social custom and those that chew it are making a public statement of their maturity, both sexual and psychological. The sirih-pinang and the white powder lime are rich with symbolic meaning. The siri is phallic symbol of the male, Pinang represents the female ovaries and reproductive capacity and the lime, which gives the characteristic red color is symbol of sperm.

When one is chewing sirih-pinang excess saliva collects in the mouth, which is spat out. This is red and is said that one is giving blood to the earth, the blood from childbearing. To able to bear children is considered a blessing from Marapu. Whenever an important exchange or discussion is take place, siri-pinang is offered first before any talking is done. Those that leave the village for more than half a day without their sirih-pinang pouch is said to be improperly dressed and ill prepared. Whenever you enter a village, almost without exception, you will be offered the siri-pinang pouch or plate. To refuse to take from the pouch or plate is very insulting. It is the action of taking the pouch or the plate, which adat says that it is the reassurance that you come on peaceful terms.

In former time if a male did not accept the sirih-pinang pouch, it is usually meant he had come on headhunting raid or wanted to declare war. He promptly would have had his cut off. It is not frowned upon of you don�t actually chew the sirih-pinang as long as you accept is graciously and put it in you bag discreetly- don�t throw it away in form of them as this Is an inadvertent sign of the desire to make war. In all offerings to their Marapu ancestor�s sirih-pinang is always offered. It is said to �invite� the spirits to join in the ceremony or hear the prayers, just as they do in this world.

Traditional Houses
There are three different kinds of the village settlements in Sumba: 1. Ancestral village � Original village of a clan. 2. Major village � Descents from the Ancestral village. 3. Garden village � Offshoot from the major village.
 
The builder of the first clan house is considered the founder of the UMA (Ancestral House � Mother House), as a social unit. The leadership of the UMA follows in the male line and the first wife of the male leader enjoys a higher status over all the other wives he might later take. The richer households have a number of slaves who are called children of the house. Their children will naturally follow their parents� career in the same house.

Structure of the house
Sumbanese compare the house to a human being. The thatched roof of grass and the �tower� are then called �The hair and the head�. The longer part of the rectangular roof is called  � the mother of the house� while the shorter sides are called � children of the house�

Supporting roofs, and forming the tower, are four posts, which are known as the �legs� of the house. At base of the tower is a floor (roof in the living quarter), making a storage room. In this space two kinds of powerful religious objects are kept, �the seed rice� and the �Clan Shrine with its Tanggu Marapu objects. The higher tower is the better, i.e. the higher is the status of the house. On top of the tower are two �horns of house� one female and one male. If we move down from the storage room we come to the main floor. This part is divided up to into a male side-right, and a female side-left. Each has their own entrance. The cooking place is known as heart of the house, and is strictly a female place.

The Verandah is raised bamboo platform, which spans the entire front of the house. This is where the guests usually sit and where rituals are sometimes held. On the back wall of the verandah all sorts of status symbols are hung, like pig�s jaws, buffalo horns and deer horn. Underneath the main floor is the livestock pen, where animals eat and kept night.

Death
Since through death it is believed that one�s spirit is set free to join the ancestors of the afterworld, it is the most important even in a person�s life. It takes priority over all activities of the living, as the dead person�s spirit needs intense assistance to join the afterworld.

This explanation that follows is a simplified version of the elements involved in a Sumbanese funeral. In reality, clans, villages and areas differ in the small details of their funerals, and quite often contradict each other.

When someone is pronounced dead, the body is washed with coconut milk and dressed in the finest textiles and jewelry from the household, depending on his status. The body�s arms and legs are broken so the body takes a sitting position, and then it is wrapped again in textiles and will be guarded by �Corpse Guards� while awaiting burial. A gong is struck around the village so that the people may know that someone has died, no one may weep until the relatives have gathered. The mail side of the family will bring the masculine related gifts i.e. buffaloes, horses, knives and metalwork. The female side will bring feminine related gifts i.e. pigs, textile, and ivory.

All these gifts are used in accompanying the dead person to the afterworld. Blood relatives must pay a part of the cost for the funeral but the main expense falls on the household. The time between the first stage of the funeral and the actual burial can vary, due to a person�s status and how many people must be summoned. Until the corpse is buried, it is usually stored in the house. It needs take priority over those who are living. All activities, such as, ceremonies, singing, weaving etc, must stop. The corpse is offered Sirih-Pinang, rice, water by his relatives. According to Marapu belief, it is thought that the dead person�s spirit �comes and goes� during this time. So the night before the burial a Rato will stage a ceremony in which he will inform the dead person�s spirit that tomorrow is his day of departure.

If any tombstone were needed hopefully it would have arrived by today. The day of burial � the body is placed outside the house along with the things needed in the afterlife, knives, Sirih-Pinang case, gold, textiles and other symbols of wealth. A horse is lead up to the grave it is believed that the dead man�s spirit will ride the horse into the afterworld.  After the corpse is placed in the tomb, with all the gifts, it is sealed and the horse is slaughtered, along with others. All relatives and friends go back to the house to feast, and exchange gifts. Important members may stay a long time. 3 � 6 days after burial, a ceremony in held to officially mark the end on mourning. For the last time sirih-pinang is placed on the grave. Also a pig and chicken are killed and offered to Marapu by the Rato. Those things belonging to the person who died which were not taken to the grave are distributed, inherited or stored in the front right part of the house. Another rite is then performed by the Rato to �Cool the house down� As to restore it to its natural order, normal activities may restart.

Gravestones
The month of September is usually associated with the making and hauling of gravestone since most people have eaten well from the previous month�s harvest, most marriages have already taken place and land is dry enough to haul the stones. The size and the price of the gravestone vary from area to area. 

Obviously the size and design of the gravestone depends on the status of the person it is made for. The carving will reveal the wealth and importance of that person. This is not to serve him in the afterworld but remain here as a reminder to everyone.
�    Normal grave � Ordinary with plain stones; also a new Christian trend
�    Noble family grave � rich man�s grave, the gravestone is mounted on pillars and usually there are carvings of horses, horns, etc. The body is buried under the stone resting on the ground.
�    The Grave of the Royal family with many carvings, taller and bigger than all other graves, also has a flagstone with elaborate carvings.
The top of the tomb is usually flat to protect the body from the rays of the sun. The flagstone is always thought of as representing a chicken�s head.

Tattooing
Recognition of adult status can be shown by the chewing of sirih-pinang as just described but also by the possession of tattoos. It is found all over Sumba and theories differ slightly from each other, however these explanations are ones that every one agreed upon.

Woman must have tattoos on the calves and thighs in black. This is the equivalent to the mail being circumcised. In Kodi tattoos are given to the woman as recognition of their status after the birth of their first child; the some motives that are on her sarong are tattooed onto her skin and thighs. Apparently the meaning behind having tattoos that the Ancestors in the afterworld recognize their own. In Rindi � East Sumba if someone not tattooed and wishes to get fire in the afterworld, the offer will be refused. This is more than likely related to the first explanation that tattoo is a sign of recognition that the Ancestors may know their presence in afterworld is �legitimate�

Tattoos on the forearm are sometimes just for decoration, others say it is to recognize each other�s clan, and others dispute this. Anyone who knows how to give a tattoo gives one. The indentations which give the design is done with lemon thorns and then a solution of black soot and sugarcane juice is rubbed over the indentation to secure the color. Motifs-since these are the same as those weaved into the Ikat textiles.
 
Head Hunting
The long-standing feud between the people of coast and the highlands has been linked to the cat and the mouse becoming enemies. Since that time they have gone to kill and take the heads of the highland people. When they say that they must look for sheaves of paddy and corn they are referring to the human heads.

A skull tree on Andung is hung in front of important houses in the village. The word Andung means, �post, column, upright pole�. The skull tree is dedicated to the War Marapu and was used as the altar of rites following head hunting, apart from the Ancestral house the Andung was, and is considered an important religious center.

The Andung is made of two parts of hard wood from the Delinga tree, one part is male and one part is female. The male part usually takes the form of fork stake and the female part a beam placed across. Once the tree was cut it was set on a stone base, which was used as a kind of altar. By cutting the tree it could never bloom again and was therefore symbolically dead. Buffalo horns could also be hung on the tree and often it was decorated with lontar leave and bits of cotton.

When the warriors returned with skull of the enemy, they would place it on the stone base on Andung. It would be offered to the War Marapu who would be invited to come down and partake in Sirih-pinang. In return for offering the heads to their Marapu, they receive �powers� i.e. courage when the enemy returns to seek revenge.

Apparently the Andung has meaning in itself because when the real skulls drop, stone skulls replace them. Bamboo slats and fluttering cloth strips as well as tufts of cotton and leaves surrounded them.

Mamuli
This is worn as an earning or hung like a pedant from neck. Women, men, and Rato�s wear it. The omega shape of the Mamuli has a specific meaning that is thought of in two parts:� The female center� and �the male enclosing center�. The opening from the base and up is made to represent the vagina and uterus. This part of the Mamuli represents the productive and sexual power of the woman. The male part is that which encloses from the outside the female part. This represents the power and wealth of man. It is worth nothing that all characters of the male enclosing exterior are always male symbols e.g. horses life, roosters, warriors, ducks, etc. The Mamuli can be classified into two groups. Here follows a short description.

Pasola  
Pasola held on these villages, Wanokaka, Lamboya, Kodi and Gaura. In this breath-taking event, hundreds of brave horsemen gather in circular runway to flying spear to each other. Each player try to use tactics and mostly interacting mockery to each other.  They also believe the bloodshed will be an offering to the mother earth to have good crop and life through out the year.

This is a festival on horseback held a year in four different areas in West Sumba. It is held as a part of greeting the Nyale or sea worms, along the south and west coastal areas. Since Pasola is held as a part of the greeting of Nyale we will describe the significance of the Nyale first. This Pasola event is preceded by the Nyale ritual that takes place on a shore nearby and led by Marapu priest (Rato) at dawn.
 
The word Pasola comes from the word SOLA or HOLA, which is a stick, used as a spear while riding a horse. There various stories and legends about how the Pasola actually started. A number of them come from Kodi  

Wulla Poddu
Lexically Wulla means Month and Paddu is a bitter/Taboo or holy month which all people are strict under some prohibition such as to mourn the death, building house, having party striking Gong etc. This event is such as a thanks giving worship and take place in November annually before planting season. Sumbanese especially those who lives in Loli, Wanokaka, Sodan and Ubu Koba Village.