West Sumba

There is only one first impression, so I try to focus and pay attention. A strip of a runaway – green, really green everywhere – very soft tropical, humid breeze – that classic touch that many of us travel for. The waiting room at the airport with 6 orange plastic chairs and a bench quickly fills with my fellow passengers. When everyone has found their luggage in these improssibly close quarters, the padlocked exit door is opened and we are all released at once into the parking area. I remember seeing only four cars. There must have been more, somewhere. Continue reading West Sumba


daengDaeng is a gentle soul with deep knowledge of, and an unfailing good eye for, excellent primitive and tribal art. Originally from Sumba Island, he has deep family roots and a house or two there. He is perhaps the most respected tribal arts trader/collector in Indonesia, with an extensive collection of textiles, folk art, and Balinese and Javanese sculpture and artifacts. Continue reading Daeng


ali-sumba2007-164Ali is my friend from Sumba who guided me to see Pasola, the warriors-on-horseback festival on Sumba Island, Indonesia. Ali also scouts remote Sumba villages for me, looking for tribal art and artifacts. His opposites co-exist on his shirtsleeve. Aggressive and gentle, generous and blatantly self-interested, he accepts correction humbly, yet walks with that universal swagger of the arrogant or would-be arrogant. Each trait is always contested, at some point by its opposite. One never really knows which Ali will be on top in his war of opposites. Fortunately, his overriding attributes are loyalty and friendship. Ultimately, I can always count on him, though I cannot entirely trust him, as his self-interest is too highly developed for trust. I often have to remind him who he really is, in other words, the good Ali, to keep him on track. Continue reading Ali

Sumba 2008

Just before the event, I was invited by Ali, a friend in Sumba, to experience Pasola, a day of ritualized Tribal war games for young warriors to prove their courage. It takes place in several locations in February and March each year in the western part of Sumba Island, Indonesia.

I had been in Sumba last spring for a week in 105o heat with matching humidity. We drove past the Pasola grounds where we’d just missed the event by two days. All reports were that Pasola was great and the non-natives suffered badly from the heat. Continue reading Sumba 2008