Balancing The Universe: Shamanism on Sumba Island, Indonesia

Sumba Island is part of the ‘The Lesser Sunda Islands’ – the long sweeping chain of islands south of Bali that make up the southern part of Indonesia. In the following posts we include items from Sumba, Flores, Timor, Lombok and a few others. There are many similarities in belief systems throughout the Lesser Sundas but the material culture is unique to each island.
Although the people of Sumba are now mostly of Christian or Muslim faith, their ancient Animistic belief system remain a powerful influence in daily life. This is reflected in the art and tools of shaman priests. Shaman are still a fundamental part of society, presiding over new building construction, births, deaths, marriages, mock wars and other cultural rituals and celebrations. Their blessings and protection rituals are essential to the well being of the community and the individual’s physical and spiritual health.
The tribal, hilltop villages which which consist of twelve to twenty to twenty stilt houses, are much the same as they were hundreds of years ago, as are most of the practices of everyday life. Sumba was one of the last islands to come under the control of the Indonesian government in the early 1970s, leaving the old culture mostly intact to this day.

Shaman Charms, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Lamboya village, Early 20th c, Wood, smooth patina from use and age. Healing amulets. 3 ½” x 2” x 2” (container); 1 ¼” x ¾’ x ½” (each figure), $375.
Shaman Charms, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Lamboya village, Early 20th c, Wood

Healing charms used in rituals. The shaman figures and their container have become smooth with a darkened patina from use and age.  3 ½” x 2” x 2” (container); 1 ¼” x ¾’ x ½” (each figure), $375.

Shaman Effigy, Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Late 19th c, Stone, pigment, cloth, Used for healing and to protect shaman from ghost spirits, 6 ½” x 5 ½” x 5”, $725.
Shaman Effigy, Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Late 19th c, Stone, pigment, cloth

Used for healing and to protect shaman from ghost spirits, 6 ½” x 5 ½” x 5”, $725. (see image below of both the above shaman figures together)

Shaman Effigy and Shaman Charms
additional view of Shaman Effigy and Shaman Charms
Shaman Drum, Sumba Island, Indonesia, Early to mid 20th c, Animal skin stretched over wood, Used by shaman to initiate and maintain a trance state during rituals, 17 ½” x 10 ½’ x 10”, $490.
Shaman Drum, Sumba Island, Indonesia, Early to mid 20th c, Animal skin stretched over wood

Used by shaman to initiate and maintain a trance state during rituals, 17 ½” x 10 ½’ x 10”, SOLD

Hunting Spirit Guide, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Kodi village. Early to mid 20th c. Wood, patinated with use and age. Spirit guide figure to pray to before hunting or fishing. 7” x 6 ½” x 16”, $325.
Hunting Spirit Guide, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Kodi village. Early to mid 20th c. Wood

Spirit guide figure to pray to before hunting or fishing. This piece has a nice patina from age and use. 7” x 6 ½” x 16”, SOLD

Shaman Figure with Alligator, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Kodi tribe, Mid to late 19th c, Wood, Used for protection rituals. 19 ¾” x 4 ¼” x 4”, $750.
Shaman Figure with Alligator, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Kodi tribe, Mid to late 19th c, Wood

Used for protection rituals. 19 ¾” x 4 ¼” x 4”, $750.

Magic Amulet/Talisman Figure, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Anakalang village Mid 20th c, Wood Magic amulet used for healing rituals. Sold
Magic Amulet/Talisman Figure, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Anakalang village, Mid 20th c, Wood

Magic amulet used for healing rituals. SOLD

Shaman Magic Amulet Male Figure, West Sumba, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Anakalang village, Early 20th c, Wood. Used for healing rituals. 7 ¾” x 2 ½” x 5 ¼”, $180.
Shaman Magic Amulet Male Figure, West Sumba, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Anakalang village, Early 20th c, Wood.

Used for healing rituals. 7 ¾” x 2 ½” x 5 ¼”, $180. SOLD

Magic Figure, Woman with Child, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Late 19th c, Stone. Used to heal and protect woman and child. 5 ½” 7” x 3 ¼”, $230.
Magic Figure, Woman with Child, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Late 19th c, Stone

Used to heal and protect woman and child. 5 ½” 7” x 3 ¼”, $230. SOLD

Hanging Effigy and Herb Bowl - set, East Sumba Island, Indonesia, Soru village, Early 20th c, Wood, coconut, fiber string. The effigy hanger gives great healing power to the herbs placed in the coconut bowl suspended below it. The bowl has three bird figure and three carved faces with an amulet head hanging below it. 30” x 6” x 6”, $1200.
Hanging Effigy and Herb Bowl – set, East Sumba Island, Indonesia, Soru village, Early 20th c, Wood

The effigy hanger gives great healing power to the herbs placed in the coconut bowl suspended below it. The bowl has three bird figure and three carved faces with an amulet head hanging below it. 30” x 6” x 6”, $1200.

Shaman Healing Couple Effigy, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Anakalang village Early to mid 20th c, Wood, fiber cloth, patinated with use and age, Used in healing rituals and to fix marriages. Dimensions: (left, male: 5 ¼” x 3 ¼” x 2”); (right, female: 5” x 3” x 2”), $420. sold as a pair
Shaman Healing Couple Effigy, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Anakalang village, Early to mid 20th c, Wood, fiber cloth

Used in healing rituals and to fix marriages. Dimensions: (left, male: 5 ¼” x 3 ¼” x 2”); (right, female: 5” x 3” x 2”), $420. sold as a pair

Healing Amulet/Talisman, Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Early 19th c, Stone, patinated with use and age. Used in healing rituals. 6 ½” x 2 ½” x 2 ½”, $370.
Healing Amulet/Talisman, Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Early 19th c, Stone

 Patinated with use and age, this figure was used in healing rituals. 6 ½” x 2 ½” x 2 ½”, $370.

Shaman Healing Amulet/Talisman - Cow, Octopus, Monkey, Bird West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia Early 20th c, Wood. Used in healing rituals, 10” x 16” x 13”, $600.
Shaman Healing Amulet/Talisman – Cow, Octopus, Monkey, Bird, West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Early 20th c, Wood

This is an unusual piece. It is multi-sided and combines several different animals which become recognizable as you turn the piece. This view show a monkey. Its feet are duck-like bird heads. If you flip the piece over, it persents as the head of a cow and of an octopus depending on the angle you view it. Used in healing rituals, 10” x 16” x 13”, $600. (see image below for another angle showing the cow/octopus)

Shaman Healing Amulet/Talisman - Cow, Octopus, Monkey, Bird West Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia Early 20th c, Wood. Used in healing rituals, 10” x 16” x 13”, $600.
Alternate view of previous image – Shaman Healing Amulet/Talisman – Cow, Octopus, Monkey, Bird
Female Shaman Effigy Sumba Island, 17th century Stone, For healing related to childbirth, 5” x 3 ¾” x 4”, Sold
Female Shaman Effigy, Sumba Island, 17th century, Stone

For healing related to childbirth, 5” x 3 ¾” x 4”, SOLD

Shaman Magic Medicine Bottle Stopper, East Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia Mid 19th c, Wood, patinated with use and age. Talisman figure with child, used empower the healing medicine in the bottle. 3” x 1 ¼” x 1 ¼”, $80.
Shaman Magic Medicine Bottle Stopper, East Sumba Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Mid 19th c, Wood

Talisman figure with child, used empower the healing medicine in the bottle. 3” x 1 ¼” x 1 ¼”, $80. SOLD

Shaman Staff, Sumba, Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Mid 20th c, Wood, patinated with use and age. Used in healing rituals. 35 ½ x 2 ¼” x 1 ½”, $700.
Shaman Staff, Sumba, Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Mid 20th c, Wood

Used in healing rituals. 35 ½ x 2 ¼” x 1 ½”, $700.

Effigy Mask Trap, East Sumba, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Tana Mabanas village, Late 19th to early 20th c, Coconut, wood, pigment. Hangs in shaman’s house. Gathers and traps black magic. The shaman will then perform a ritual to disperse them and to keep them from returning. 9 ½” x 8” x 10 ¾”, $700.
Effigy Mask Trap, East Sumba, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Tana Mabanas village, Late 19th to early 20th c, Coconut, wood, pigment

Hangs in shaman’s house. Gathers and traps black magic. The shaman will then perform a ritual to disperse them and to keep them from returning. 9 ½” x 8” x 10 ¾”, $700. (see below image for side view)

Effigy Mask Trap, East Sumba, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Tana Mabanas village, Late 19th to early 20th c, Coconut, wood, pigment. Hangs in shaman’s house. Gathers and traps black magic. The shaman will then perform a ritual to disperse them and to keep them from returning. 9 ½” x 8” x 10 ¾”, $700.
side view of previous image – Effigy Mask Trap

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