Also known as: Sumbanese; East Sumbanese

The island of Sumba is in Eastern Indonesia. The people of the eastern two-thirds of the island were historically divided into many small domains, but shared a relatively homogenous culture. The indigenous religion of Eastern Sumba centres around beings called Marapu, the important of which descended from heaven to become the founding ancestors of the Sumbanese. While most Sumbanese are now Christian, the Marapu faith survives in some places. Information on this culture is largely drawn from Forth's (1981) ethnography of the traditional domain of Rindi.

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Traditional Culture(1880-1905)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 100-101, 105-108, 118, 128-129
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 66-132, 90
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 92
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 87-94, 97-98
God(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 66-132

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 88-89

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 191-193
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Principal determinant of one's afterlife (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 182, 187, 192
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 83
Primordial pair Present, and genealogically linked to humans now living (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 90
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 89-94, 90

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 101

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 352, 356-357
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 14-17, 66-132
Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 220, 227

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Present (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 260
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Present (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 260
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Hoskins (1996), pp. 216-248
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 182
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than a local community, no larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 45-46, 253-254
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 236-264

Rites

Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 155-170, plate 2b
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 159-163
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 155-170, Plates 2b-6b
Tattooing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 163-165
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 165-166
Social Environment +
Population 60000 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 13
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 74-75
Forth (1981), pp. 11-14
Importance of Patrilateral descent High (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 76
Importance of Matrilateral descent Low (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 76
Polygamy Limited polygyny (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 75-76

Conflict

Conflict within communities Low (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 214-281, 280
Conflict between communities of the culture Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 74-77
Forth (1981), pp. 7
Conflict with other cultures Common, at least every five years (Source)
Hoskins (2004), pp. 94
Forth (1981), pp. 7-8
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 7-8
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 3-4
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 2102.3 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 4
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Forth (1981), pp. 7
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 7-8
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 7
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Medium (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 15
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 14
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 16
Land-based gathering Minor (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 14-17, 15
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 16

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 15-16
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 15-16
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 15-16

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Medium (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 14-17, 17
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 2-4

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude -9.9 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 4
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 120.3 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 4
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Tectonic (Source)
Vel (2008), pp. 24
Island Size (km²) 11153.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sumba) (2014)
Maximum elevation (meters) 1220.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sumba) (2014)
Post Contact History(1905-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Medium (Source)
Keane (2007), pp. 152-153
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 9
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Keane (2007), pp. 154
Vel (2005), pp. 91

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Keane (2007)
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Hoskins (2000), pp. 612
Hoskins (1996), pp. 239
Vel (2005), pp. 83

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Vel (2005), pp. 82-83
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sumba) (2014)

Modern Infrastructure

Air travel Present, local only (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sumba) (2014)
Sea port Present (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sumba) (2014)

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Hoskins (1996), pp. 217
Hoskins (2000), pp. 612
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Hoskins (2000), pp. 612
Hoskins (1996), pp. 239
Vel (2005), pp. 83
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Unofficial religious syncretism Medium (Source)
Keane (2007), pp. 161, 205, 227, 229-230
Institutional religious syncretism Medium (Source)
Keane (2007), pp. 107-109, 223-251
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Vel (2005), pp. 91
Keane (2007), pp. 153
External Links
References
Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Brunton, R. (1989). The Abandoned Narcotic: Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sumba). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://academic.eb.com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/EBchecked/topic/573155/Sumba

Forth, G. (1981). Rindi: Ethnographic Study of a Traditional Domain in Eastern Sumba (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Hoskins, J. (1996). The Heritage of Headhunting: History, Ideology, and Violence on Sumba, 1890-1990. In Hoskins, J. (Ed.), Headhunting and the Social Imagination in Southeast Asia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hoskins, J. (2000). The Headhunter as Hero: Local Traditions and their Reinterpretation in National History. American Ethnologist, 14 (4), 605-622. DOI: 10.1525/ae.1987.14.4.02a00010.

Hoskins, J. (2004) Slaves, Brides and other ‘Gifts’: Resistance, Marriage and Rank in Eastern Indonesia. Slavery and Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, 25:2, 90-107. DOI: 10.1080/0144039042000293063.

Keane, W. (2007). Christian moderns: freedom and fetish in the mission encounter. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Retrieved from: http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=2Z3YWMn6XQgC&pg=PA156&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=nonhuman&f=false

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

Kennedy, R. (1943). Islands and Peoples of the Indies. Washington DC: The Smithsonian.

Lebar, F. (Ed.). (1972). Eastern Sumbanese in Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia. Volume 1: Indonesia, Andaman Islands, and Madagascar. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press.

Vel, J. (2005). Pilkada in East Sumba: An Old Rivalry in a New Democratic Setting. Indonesia, 80, 81-107. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/stable/3351320.

Vel, J.A.C. (2008). Uma Politics : an Ethnography of Democratization in West Sumba, Indonesia, 1986-2006. Leiden, Netherlands: KITLV. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/reader.action?docID=10745948&ppg=39