Blood Sacrifice in Indonesia (Part 1/2)


MILENE LARSSON: Sumba is known
as the cowboy island of the South Seas. With its unspoiled beaches and
rolling hills dotted with horses, it would probably have
been Indonesian Ibeza by now, had it not been for its
headhunting warrior clans and ancient blood sacrifice
traditions. The highlight of the blood
sacrifice calendar is the Pasola, a clan battle where men
on horseback throw spears at each other in order
to fertilize the soil with human blood. Imagine a tribal version of the
Olympic games, with holy sea worm processions, animal
sacrifice, and bare-knuckle boxing on a dark beach. -[SHOUTING AND ULULATING] -[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: We wanted to see
the Pasola for ourselves, so we traveled to Bali for
18 hours and then took a propeller plane to Sumba. Thank you. There are Pasola battles in four
villages in February and March every year. We arrived a few days before the
largest Pasola, which is in Wanukaka where we were
staying with descendants of the royal Mamodo family from the
island’s Praibakul clan. Hi. I’m Milene. RIAN: How are you? MILENE LARSSON: OK, what’s the
traditional greeting here? MILENE LARSSON: OK. So we’re finally in Wanukaka,
and we’re staying with a guy called Rudy and his family. Who, they have this house,
and we have this little sweat box over here. I don’t know how I’m going
to survive this. It’s so hot. There are like skulls and
things everywhere here. Animal jaws and skulls are signs
of wealth, as it shows the family can afford
to eat meat. Whoa. To gain the village’s trust,
we first had to walk up a small mountain to meet with
an important priest of the island’s animist Marapu religion
called ratu Dangu Duka, who’s famous because
half of his face has mysteriously turned black. We’re finally on top of the
mountain, and this looks absolutely amazing. It could be 1,000 years ago. You have old houses,
you have megaliths. When the ratu showed up, he
seemed unfazed by our presence until I stepped on
a stone that was supposedly a spirit’s house. I just put my foot on a stone
which is apparently holy. I didn’t know. The holy man got angry, so
I hope this will go well. What can happen if I step
on a spirit’s house? RATU DANGU DUKA:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: It’s common
courtesy to chew a psychoactive drug called betel
nut before engaging in conversation with the ratu. Wow. That was like chewing coffee
beans with chlorine. Maybe I could get used to it. It’s like coffee or wine or
something, it takes a little getting used to. RATU DANGU DUKA:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: Why is
blood so important to the Pasola ritual? RATU DANGU DUKA:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: I hear
that now you have to use blunt spears. When did the government start
butting in to the Pasola? RATU DANGU DUKA:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: Human sacrifice
isn’t punishable during the Pajura or the Pasola
because the Indonesian law system steps aside and gives
way to a local clan law called adat. RATU DANGU DUKA:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: It’s
a Balinese cigar. It’s good. The ratu seemed more interested
in chewing his betel nuts than chatting with
us, so we met with a Danish doctor for the Sumba Foundation
who has become a local hero after having
helped eased the island’s malaria epidemic. MILENE LARSSON: A few days
later, we heard that seven people were decapitated in a
land brawl not far from where we were staying. [PIG SQUEALING] MILENE LARSSON: Herman Dagu and
Stefan Ustedi are two of Wanukaka’s fiercest
Pasola warriors. Are you Praibakul, and you’re
fighting the Waihura? HERMAN DAGU: Yeah. MILENE LARSSON: Who
usually wins? HERMAN DAGU: [SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: Rather than
a competition, the Pasola battles and the Pajura boxing
are chances for the clans to settle old scores. STEFAN USTEDI:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: So these
are the spears you use? STEFAN USTEDI:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: Can I try
to chuck your spear? STEFAN USTEDI: OK. MILENE LARSSON: Only one hand? Woo! Is that good? No? I hear you’re the fiercest
fighter in the village. How come? HERMAN DAGU: [SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: I see
you have lots of Britney Spears posters. Do you like Britney Spears? MILENE LARSSON: Herman’s horse
even looked like Britney. HERMAN DAGU: [SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: Woo! That was good. Ow! What? I twisted my ankle. After the ratu’s prediction that
I would hurt my leg after stepping on that spirit’s house,
I strangely started falling over a lot, twisting
my ankle, grazing my knees, and even burning my calf on the
gas pipe of a motorbike. STEFAN USTEDI: Yeah. MILENE LARSSON: Yeah, it’s
going to be fine? STEFAN USTEDI: Yeah. MILENE LARSSON: Thank you. STEFAN USTEDI: Yeah. MILENE LARSSON: Have you ever
gotten hurt during the Pasola? HERMAN DAGU: [SPEAKING KAMBERA] STEFAN USTEDI:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: An old Pasola
veteran also wanted to share some wisdom with us. -[SPEAKING KAMBERA] HERMAN DAGU: [SPEAKING KAMBERA] STEFAN USTEDI:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] [CROWD CHEERING] [SOBBING] STEFAN USTEDI:
[SPEAKING KAMBERA] -[SPEAKING KAMBERA] MILENE LARSSON: These days,
human sacrifice only happens during the Pasola, because
even blunt spears can sometimes kill. And it’s believed that if a
fighter dies, he sacrifices himself for the harvest.

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