Sumba is famous not only for its beautiful nature, but also for its rich culture. In this district, there are several exotic villages with thick culture and tradition. One of those villages is Prailiu. This village has been famous and mostly visited by tourists and researchers who are curious about their culture. Entering the village, you would already notice strong atmosphere of ancient culture from their clothes, buildings, and megalithic tombs. Tourism Village of Prailiu is located in Waingapu, East Sumba, Province of East Nusa Tenggara.

Tourism Village of Prailiu, Sumba (Source: Photobucket. Credit: lihatlah)
Tourism Village of Prailiu, Sumba
(Source: Photobucket. Credit: lihatlah)

How to Get There

Waingapu is not too easy to access. Although it has an airport, the flights are only available from Kupang and Denpasar. Therefore, you need to have a transit flight. But luckily, both of those cities have international airport so it should not be trouble. Waingapu can only be accessed using sea transportation. Public motor boats are available from Ende (Flores), Aimere (Flores), and Kupang (Timor).

In Waingapu, you can go to the Prailiu Village using public transportation. It is only 2 kilometers away from the central city. Besides using public transportation, you can also use rented car (plus the driver, if you wish). It is available on the airport and hotel. Several hotels even have pick up service that can take you anywhere in Waingapu and then pick you up later when you want to go back to the hotel.


Where to Stay

There are many hotels and homestays in Waingapu. Most of those are budget hotels as most tourists are backpackers and the researchers tend to reserve a long stay so they like to choose cheap accommodations. But you can also find several hotels with more complete facilities as well. For your reference, here are some accommodations available on Waingapu:

    • Location : Jalan D. I. Panjaitan 23, Waingapu
    • Phone : +62 387 61887
    • Room Rates : $5 to $16 per day
    • Location : Jalan Umbu Marahongu , Waingapu
    • Phone : +62 387 62747
    • Room Rates : $9 to $15 per day
    • Location : Jalan Eltari 2, Waingapu
    • Phone : +62 387 61125
    • Room Rates : $3.75 to $7.5 per day
    • Location : Jalan A. Yani 73, Waingapu
    • Phone : +62 387 61642
    • Room Rates : $34 to $37.5 per day
    • Location : Jalan Prof. Dr. W.Z Yohanes 14, Waingapu
    • Phone : +62 387 62500, +62 387 61048
    • Room Rates : $37 to $48 per day



Most people in Prailiu are Christians. But all of them are still practicing the customs of their ancient religion, Marapu. These customs can be seen on almost every aspect of their lives including the house, the burial process, the dance rituals, the clothes, and much more.


The House

Although technology and modern architecture are common in Waingapu, Prailiu Village is still having their own folk architecture. Entering the village, you will see all houses are having unique style of architecture with sharp and tall roof covered in dried leaves. A few years ago, modern architecture started to emerge at this village. But the local government, assisted by the World Bank, initiated a reconstruction and preservation of the local architecture. Luckily, the people of Prailiu are aware that their culture is important and needs to be upheld. Therefore, they stop building modern house anymore and got back to their unique architectural style.

The traditional house of Prailiu is very eye-catching on the roof. Not only large and tall, it also has unique shape. The house itself consists of three levels which have deep meaning. The first level is the lower level. It represents the low world where the deceased spirits live. The second level represents the middle world. It is world of living human, as we are. The upper level represents the high world, the world of Gods.

Two Local Men is Posing in Front of their Traditional House (Source: Credit: Bang Ardin)
Two Local Men is Posing in Front of their Traditional House
(Source: Credit: Bang Ardin)

Death and Cemetery

For the people of Prailiu, death is not the end of live. Instead, it is just a transition when a human is moving away from middle world, to the low world. But they will still live at their new world. Therefore, a proper ritual shall be processed during the burial to ensure that the spirit can enter the Praimarapu, the heaven on their new world. This ritual can take up a lot of money. It would be more even expensive the deceased was a noble man.

First, the dead body is wrapped with several layers of fabric. Then, it is put into a wooden coffin. Inside the coffin, the dead body should be put in a squatting position, resembles the position of a fetus inside a mother’s womb, so the spirit could be newly born again. The wooden coffin is then brought home and let it stay there. At this process, the coffin is guarded by a Hamba Bawaan, a spirit mediator in Marapu belief. Next ritual is the praying ceremony led by the Queen of Marapu.

While normal people are buried down in a soil, the deceased people of Prailiu are buried in a megalithic rock. The size of the rock represents the social status of the deceased. The nobler he was, the bigger the rock shall be. This rock is kept at the house along with the dead body for a little while. After it is been prayed, people will take it out of the house and bring it around the village before it is been put in a cemetery. The top of the rock is then decorated with several shapes of animals. Each animal has different meaning.

The Megalithic Rock to Bury the Deceased (Source: Credit: Bang Ardin)
The Megalithic Rock to Bury the Deceased
(Source: Credit: Bang Ardin)

Moving from one world to another means you will have another life. Thus, deceased people need to bring some of their wealth. So when they get buried, their family will also bury some valuable items such as jewels and golds. During all these process, it is also necessary to behead several buffalos and horses as sacrifice. Cows and pigs are also been slaughtered for feast. The higher the social status, the more animals need to be sacrificed.


Woven Fabric

Other attractive thing about Prailiu Village is their art of woven fabric called Tenun Ikat. The production process is very unique. It consists of several levels. Both tourists and researchers love to watch closely and even learn about this process. Almost every woman in this village is making this fabric. The local people of Prailiu are very familiar with tourists and researchers. They are very friendly and love to chit chat. They will also offer you to buy a piece of Tenun Ikat that they made.

Weaving the Fabric (Source: Credit: Bang Ardin)
Weaving the Fabric
(Source: Credit: Bang Ardin)

Buying the woven fabric right from the producer might be great for you than to buy it at the souvenir shop in the city. First, the fabric from the village is guaranteed to be fully handmade while on the city, the Tenun Ikat could either be fabricated or handmade. Second, the more you are friendly to them, the more they will like you. This is advantageous if you wish to examine further about their culture. Third, it is much cheaper.


Touring in Prailiu Village is like touring in a whole different world. The village is located on a developed city but they still strongly uphold their culture. This show how strong is the people of Prailiu to keep on their faith. Learning about their culture and customs, you will also learn some meaningful wisdom that you might use on your life.


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