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The Island of Sumba

I have been very fortunate to visit Sumba many time over the past decade. First on a quest to climb some big mountains, which of course do not exist on this very isolated island. Gradually I become involved in the Sumba Hospitality Foundation (SHF) where I help to introduce Sumbanese cuisine into their curriculum. This task gave me the great chance to discover many amazing sceneries, beaches, arid and very dry hillsides and foremost markets and kitchens in homes and restaurants. Working closely with the locals gave me an better understanding of their cultures and foremost food they greatly enjoy every day. On this page we feature just a few images to give an impression of this definitely must visit Island.

Sumba in eastern Indonesia is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, a little more than 1 hour to the east of Bali. To the northwest of Sumba is Sumbawa, to the northeast, across the Sumba Strait (Selat Sumba), is Flores, to the east, across the Suva Sea is Timor, and to the south, across part of the Indian Ocean is Australia.

Historically, this island exported sandalwood and was known as Sandalwood Island.

Before colonization, Sumba was inhabited by several small ethno linguistic groups, some of which may have had tributary relations to the Majapahit Empire. In 1522 the first ships from Europe arrived, and by 1866 Sumba belonged to the Dutch East Indies, although the island did not come under real Dutch administration until the twentieth century. Jesuits opened a mission in Laura, West Sumba in 1866.

Despite contact with western cultures, Sumba is one of the few places in the world in which megalithic burials, are used as a 'living tradition' to inter prominent individuals when they die. Burial in megaliths is a practice that was used in many parts of the world during the Neolithic and Bronce Age, but has survived to this day in Sumba, and has raised significant interest from scholars. At Anakalang, for instance, quadrangular adzes have been unearthed. Another long-lasting tradition is the sometimes lethal game of Pasola, in which teams of often several hundred horse-riders fight with spears.

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