Sumba, Savu & Rote


Water Buffalos on Sumba

Our “Luxury Sailing Cruise – Sumba, Savu & Rote ” takes you on an exclusive adventure to these two rarely visited islands. Due to their remote location, Sumba & Savu have only a limited flight schedule from Bali. Both islands are known for their beautiful ikat fabrics, excessive and extravagant funerals, and on Sumba, the annual Pasola, a ritual war game on horseback. The Sumbanese are an animist culture living among ancient megaliths.

The traditional village is quite striking in design, its most distinguishing feature being wooden houses topped with hat-like roofs. Most villages are set upon fortified hills, centered around megalithic stone structures. Traditionally a totem made from a petrified tree, with enemy skulls would also be on display, but the Indonesian government has now outlawed these skull trees.

Sumba people wearing exquisite IKAT

Funerals can be impressive events, and the more important the person, the more animals are sacrificed. A prestigious person, wrapped in hundreds of exquisite ikats, will be sent on their way with several days worth of slaughter and feasting. The hand dyed, hand-spun ikat blankets of East Sumba are ablaze with animals and headhunting images, and are worn still today by men and women alike. The men wear one blanket around the waist and another identical one across the shoulder. Women wear a cylindrical cloth as a dress, belted at the waist. The process of making the ikat is labor intensive. The cotton must be harvested and spun into threads. The threads are fitted onto the loom, and then a dye resistant string is used to tie a pattern into the threads. Once the pattern is complete, the threads are removed and soaked in natural dyes repeatedly until the right color is achieved. Finally weaving begins, almost a year later.

Savu, also known as Sawu, Sabu, Sawoe, Havu, Hawu, Hawoe, is the next stop on our “Luxury Sailing Cruise – Sumba, Savu & Rote”. It is situated between Sumba and Roti, west of Timor, belonging to the eastern province of East Nusa Tenggara. Savu is the largest of a group of three islands. Ferries connect the islands to Waingapu, on Sumba, and Kupang, in West Timor. It is also possible to fly to Savu from Kupang. The Savunese people (estimated around 100,000) consider themselves of Indian Aryan origin with historical ties to Hindu-Java. The society still performs traditional animistic rituals and beliefs, known as Djingi Tiu.

Barely influenced by modern lifestyle, the Savu Islands are, however, a predominantly Christian society. Protestantism was introduced by Dutch missionaries and remains on the islands today. The Savunese have a traditional greeting, which is pressing nose on nose at an encounter. This greeting is used among Savu’s people and on major ceremonies; it serves a similar purpose to a formal handshake in modern western society.

The last stop on our “Luxury Sailing Cruise – Sumba, Savu & Rote” is Indonesia’s most southern island – Rote, also called Roti. This island also is part of the East Nusa Tenggara province and belongs to the Lesser Sunda Islands. It comprises an area of about 1,200 km2 (463 square miles) and lies roughly 500 km (311 miles) to the northeast of Australia. Rote island is situated to the southwest of the larger island of Timor, with the Savu Sea to the north, and to the Timor Sea to the south. Savu and Sumba lie west of Rote. A tiny and uninhabited island of Ndana, just south of Rote, is the southernmost island of Indonesia. Rote island consists of rolling hills, terraced plantations, savannah, and some forests. The Rotinese people depend majorly on the lontar palm for their basic survival. They supplement their income from fishing and jewellery making. There is a daily ferry service between Rote and Kupang, the provincial capital on West Timor. The main town on Rote is Ba’a. It is located on the northern side of the island. The ferry ride between Kupang and Ba’a takes around 2 hours. Rote’s southern coastline offers great surfing conditions, in particular around the village of Nemberala. Rote has many historical relics including fine antique Chinese porcelain, and it has retained many ancient arts and traditions.