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Old Sumba Photograph

This shows a wonderful, very old Sumba photograph. The original photograph may have been taken in the early 1900s - and shows wonderful detail and culture.
The men are, I suspect, of royal rank, perhaps a local Raja and his brother, along with two more family members. They are wearing the man’s pair of hinggi kombu weavings, one wrapped around their loins (and underneath the European jacket) and the other folded over their shoulder. Another ikat piece is worn around their heads - and a pair of blankets is hung behind them. The primitive nature of the ikat work on the hanging blankets suggests the early 1900s.
The Sumbanese were always partial to the Dutch, who ruled Indonesia for nearly 300 years, but, pretty much, left the Sumbanese to rule themselves via the Rajas found throughout the various regions of Sumba; thus, the European jacket is worn as a status symbol. For the most part, Sumba’s animistic culture and traditional life was left intact by the Dutch.


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