Nusa Tenggara:: Sawu, a remote island

Pulau Sawu, East Nusa Tenggara. A village with traditional houses built by timber and leafs from palm trees. A group of curiously waving people can be seen in the lower center of the image. This is from southern Sawu (from helicopter) (Bjorn Grotting)

Pulau Sawu, East Nusa Tenggara. A village with traditional houses built by timber and leafs from palm trees. A group of curiously waving people can be seen in the lower center of the image. This is from southern Sawu (from helicopter, photo Bjorn Grotting)

When I worked in Indonesia some years ago some of my time was spent operating survey instruments onboard a helicopter. My best memories from that time are from flights we did in the more remote areas. We saw some fascinating scenery and flew by these small remote villages where people always came out waving to us. Well, not everyone was waving, we also saw people taking cover, not knowing what to expect. Luckily for them we were quite harmless, just surveying their land.

One of these remote places was the island of Sawu west of Timor in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. Flying by these, for us, primitive buildings or huts with apparently happy people cheering at us makes me wonder how diverse human life still is on this small planet, even in the 21st century.

Well, enough of that, the rest is some facts about Sawu;
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Nusa Tenggara:: Sawu Island

Pulau Sawu, East Nusa Tenggara. A village with traditional houses built by timber and leafs from palm trees. A group of curiously waving people can be seen in the lower center of the image. This is from southern Sawu (from helicopter) (Bjorn Grotting)

Pulau Sawu, East Nusa Tenggara. A village with traditional houses built by timber and leafs from palm trees. A group of curiously waving people can be seen in the lower center of the image. This is from southern Sawu (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Sawu (also known as Sabu) is a small island, approx. 461 sq. km, located southwest of Timor and southeast of Sumba. Population about 60.000. Sawu is isolated from other islands by a deep ocean. This island is like Sumba less influenced by modern lifestyle, and is known for a culture where old traditions like offerings, dance and other rituals can still be seen. Their old animistic beliefs are known as “jingitui”, and survived the first Portuguese missionaries who came here before year 1600 AD, later followed by Dutch missionaries.

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