Traditional dances in Sumba

Exquisite Sumbanese Traditional Dances

Omri Ben-Canaan Culture and Traditions in Sumba

Share this Post

As found in many other cultures, traditional music and dance of Sumba was originally a part of worship. Nowadays as the time goes by, the dances also staged at government events, cultural performances even for tourist atrraction. Almost all districts of Sumba has its own kind of dance. There is a special dance that is danced by women, men, or a mix of both.

sumba-kataga-danceFor example in Sumba Barat (West Sumba) there are 2 famous dances; Woleka and Kataga. Woleka is a dance performed by a group of women to celebrate the homecoming of the battlefield heroes. The leader of the dancing group needs to sing a rhyme. These days, Woleka is also performed in wedding ceremonies. Whilst, Kataga is a war dance performed by a group of men expressively and full of energy. Kataga dance always receives special attention from anyone who watch this dance. With typical rhythm of the gong, cheers, yells and pounding sound of the Sumba shield make the audience stunned. Kataga is always performed by a minimum of 6 people.

west-sumba-traditional-danceIn East Sumba regency, there are some other famous dances such as Kandingangu dance which in the ancient times were performed in traditional ceremonies to invoke the presence of the universe's creator (the Gods). But in the present, this dance is performed in every welcoming event for VVIP guests.

And just like in West Sumba, there is also a dance called Ningguharana that presented by men and women to welcome battlefield heroes. Nowadays, the dance is staged for homecoming party of the Pasola fighters who just come back from the battle. In traditional villages of Sumba island, above dances can also be seen in some art dance studios. Traditional dances of Sumba is generally accompanied by music from gongs and drums. But, what makes it very unique is beginning part of the dance is not determined by the sound of the music itself but by the tone of harmony felt by all dancers. As long as the rhythm sound of gongs and drums are not yet harmonious, dancers will remain silent. Very unique isn't it?? Sumbanese people believe that essential point of a dance performance is harmony between the dance movements itself and the music that accompanies. sumba-gong-instrumentThe most commonly used musical instruments are gong (talla) and drum (beddu). Gong is generally made of brass or iron plate. Diverse in size between 30-50 cm in diameter, it's available in large size (in Sumba it is called talla pia) and some are small (called talla ana kouka). The most frequent use of gong music is for weddings and funerals. Accompanying the gongs is a drum called tambur. It is made of wood, about 50 cm in diameter with a horsehide head. It is played with a simple stick in the right hand and is dampened with the flat left hand. In addition there are several other traditional instruments which unfortunately are now almost extinct; kasabba - a kind of cymbals made of iron plate, goga ama - a kind of short flute powered by using air in the mouth, talahe - a hollow blown flute that uses one nostril while the other nostril closed. Another one is Ndungga - a type of stringed instrument which based on the material divided into two types: ndungga roro (made of coconut shells and horsehair) as well as ndungga koba (made of coconut shell, boards and spun yarn).

sumba-indonesia-traditional-danceAs mentioned earlier, the traditional dances of Sumba was originally a part of worship, usually performed in Marapu rituals and Wulla Poddu ceremony. In several villages of Lamboya, Patiala, and Loli drums are beating all night long and the day after occurs the ceremony. Marapu rituals are performed by a rato, women dance and a kind of sorcerer wearing a mask amuse or frighten the audience. The dance to worship the ancestors is called Herung Laba. This dance is performed by a man reciting poems whilst  beating a tambur (drum). But today, Herung Laba is a kind of dance for young people in finding a mate and is transformed into playful dance.

Besides performed in traditional villages in Sumba, the dances are often performed in National or International scale tourism exhibitions. Even the famous Kataga dance is regularly staged in Taman Ismail Marzuki - an art and cultural center located in Jakarta. This is how the Sumba local government keeps all traditions of Sumbanese people alive in the midst of technological advances. The next generation should be well-informed about their ancestors traditions i.e. ritual ceremonies, art, dances.   Interested into investing in real-estate in Sumba ? Check out these Lands for Sale in Sumba