Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dead 12 years and still enjoying family life

Basically, we are longer dead than alive. We know that, but ignore it. The people from Sumba are very well aware of it, and prepare accordingly for life in the afterworld. So the former rajah of Pau and his younger brother. The rajah died 12 years ago, his brother 5 years ago. Both were still in their family house, waiting for proper funerals to take place. In the meantime, the rajah in seated position was wrapped in 200 pieces of ikat, the traditional Sumbanese woven cloth, his wrapped corpse put in a wooden cabinet itself covered with ikat. His brother as a Christian was also wrapped in ikat, but in a reclined position. As the daughter of the rajah opened the wooden cabinet where the corpse was, she immediately put a small table with some betel nut on it for the dead to enjoy.
Nobody knows when the funerals can take place. Funerals request a huge amount of sacrificial cattle (chicken, pigs and buffaloes) as well as a proper grave. The huge tombstone was already bought, but still had to be carved and moved to the village (70 km away). Upon arrival in the village, it would be dragged to the burial place in the traditional way, by men moving it on logs. The family would have to cover the costs and the meals for all workers involved. Plus entertaining hundreds of people. The rajah and his brother could well enjoy their sirih (betel) for a few years more…

East Sumba, February 2010.

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