Nusa Tenggara:: Sumba island

East Nusa Tenggara, Sumba, Pulau Mangudu. Pulau Mangudu island south of Sumba (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

East Nusa Tenggara, Sumba, Pulau Mangudu. Pulau Mangudu island south of Sumba (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

South of Flores, between Sumbawa and Timor there is an island where the traditional customs are among the best preserved in Nusa Tenggara. This is Sumba, a relatively large island, 11.153 sq. km. with a population that reaches about 600.000, the name of the capital is Waingapu. Much of the island consists of a flat, elevated plateau about 600m above sea level, where the coast is mostly steep and rocky. The island is divided in two regions, west and east, along ethnical and cultural borders.

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Nusa Tenggara:: Weyewa identity

East Nusa Tenggara, Sumba. Nusa Tenggara, Sumba. A small village on top of the island plateau (from helicopter). (Bjorn Grotting)

East Nusa Tenggara, Sumba. Nusa Tenggara, Sumba. A small village on top of the island plateau (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The Weyewa inhabit the western highlands of Sumba, Nusa Tenggara Timur Province, where they cultivate rice, corn, and cassava using slash-and-burn farming methods as well as continuous irrigation of padi fields. They supplement this income through the sale of livestock, coffee, and their distinctive brightly colored textiles. Until the 1970s, there had been relatively few challenges to the Weyewa notions of political and religious identity.

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