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Home » Sumba: Powerful Surf, living megalithic culture and fine ikat cloths » Pasola Jousting Festival

Pasola Jousting Festival

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  1. Sumba Island

    Traditional Villages at Sumba Island by Ng Sebastian
  2. Traditional Villages at Sumba Island

    Traditional Villages at Sumba Island by Ng Sebastian
  3. Sumba Island

    tarimbang beach in sumba by Ng Sebastian
  4. Sumba Island

    panorama of sumba's traditional house by Ng Sebastian
  5. Sumba Island

    Penji, carved tomb stone by Ng Sebastian
  6. Sumba Island

    the tomb by Ng Sebastian
  7. Sumba Island

    village view by Ng Sebastian
  8. Sumba Island

    rende in sumbawa by Ng Sebastian
  9. Sumba Island

    man in horse by Ng Sebastian
  10. Sumba Island

    morning in west sumba by Ng Sebastian
  11. Sumba Island

    sumba island by Ng Sebastian
  12. Sumba Island

    sumba village by Ng Sebastian
  13. Sumba Pasola

    A strolled down the soft white sandy beach accompanied by the indulging breeze is what await at the beaches of Sumba. Photo by Campbell Bridge.
  14. Sumba Pasola

    The guardian of tradition, the warrior of Sumba is tirelessly guarding their ancestors’ cultural treasurers. Photo by Campbell Bridge.



This is a most exciting Jousting Festival where opposing teams run into each other on horseback, saddle-less, throwing blunt spears to each other to unseat or hurt their opponents or horses. Fallen men or horses may not be attacked, but any blood flowing is believed to fertilize the soil and benefit the next harvest.

The Pasola ritual is an ancient war game between two groups of 100 men from the Hill village and the lowland village, riding colorful decorated selected horses, flinging wooden spears at each other. Dressed in their traditional costumes, the Sumbanese men drive the horses, which they ride bareback without a saddle, to run faster and make strategies on how to win the battle.

The word Pasola itself derived from the word Sola or Hola which is the name of the blunt spears they use to throw to each opposing groups of horsemen.


Although the tradition may seem full of violence, Pasola is about peacekeeping, not hostility. The game is thought by some to have been invented as a sort of dispute settlement mechanism -a bellum pacificum or peaceful war through games.


The tournament forms part of the traditional Marapu belief on Sumba, where the Pasola forms an inseparable part of the annual ritual, held in conjunction with the Bau Nyale ritual or the arrival of seaworms on the shores of Sumba, which normally occurs in February and March.


Once better known as the Sandalwood Island, Sumba in the province of East Nusatenggara, - adjoining the islands of Komodo and Flores, - breeds some of Indonesia’s best horses. The Sumba horses are a cross between Arabian and local horses, and are therefore larger than the neighbouring Sumbawa horses.


There are daily flights from Bali to Waingapu in East Sumba and Tambolaka in West Sumba on alternate days. The island can also be reached from Maumere on Flores, on similarly alternating days between the two towns.



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Pasola Jousting Festival

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