Also known as: Sumbanese; Tau Humba

Sumba is an island in Eastern Indonesia. The people of the eastern two-thirds of the island speak a single language and share a relatively homogeneous culture, while those in the west are more diverse. The indigenous religion of Eastern Sumba centres around beings called Marapu, the divine ancestors of the Sumbanese. Information on this culture is largely drawn from Forth's (1981) ethnography of the traditional Eastern Sumbanese domain of Rindi.

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Traditional Culture(1905)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 73-132
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 73-132
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 77-78, 92
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 87-94
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 87-94

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. 171-213
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 171-213
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 83
Primordial pair Present, and genealogically distinct from humans (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 90
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 89-94

General Features

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

Classes of Tapu

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

Mana

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

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Hoskins (1996), pp. 216-248
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 182
Largest religious community Larger than a local community, smaller than the society (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 45-46, 254
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 236-264

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 155-170
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 155-170, Plates 2b-6b
Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 155-170, plate 2b
Tattooing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 163, 165
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 159-163
Social Environment +
Population 60000 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 13
Gooszen (1999), pp. 225
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 74-75
Forth (1981), pp. 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

(No) external warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 7-8
Conflict within community Low (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 214-281, 280
(No) internal warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Lebar (1972), pp. 74-77
Forth (1981), pp. 7
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
Distance to nearest continent 694.0 (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)
Forth (1981), pp. 7, 76-77
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
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
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 14

Water-based means of subsistence

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

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Medium (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 14-17
Metalworking Present (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 16
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 3

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Tectonic (Source)
Vel (2008), pp. 24
Island Size (km²) 11153.0 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 3
'Sumba' (2016)
Maximum elevation (meters) 1220.0 (Source)
'Sumba' (2016)

Location

Latitude -9.9 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 4
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 120.3 (Source)
Forth (1981), pp. 4
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1905-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

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

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)
'Sumba' (2016)

Modern Infrastructure

Air travel Present, local only (Source)
'Sumba' (2016)
Sea port Present (Source)
'Sumba' (2016)

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.

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

Fortes, M. (1959). 331. Descent, Filiation and Affinity: A Rejoinder to Dr. Leach: Part II. Man, 59, 206-212.

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

Gooszen, A. J. (1999). A demographic history of the Indonesian archipelago, 1880-1942. Leiden, Netherlands: KITLV Press.

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.

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.

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.

Sumba (2016). Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Sumba.

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