Sumba Ikat Motifs: Fauna – Part 2

Sumba is an island untouched by modern tourism, still has a lot of hidden gems and treasures to unfold and preserve for our children. Have you read our latest article last week? Sumba ikat fabric itself is usually decorated with various motifs inspired by flora and fauna. Each motif certainly has its own story and in this article, we would like to share with you more about the meaning behind each motif. 

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Fauna – Part 2

4. Kaka (Cockatoo)
5. Kataru Mbakul (Snake)
Ruha (Deer)
7. Kurangu (Shrimp)
8. Karunggu (Crab)
9. Iyang (Fish)
10. Wuya (Crocodile)
11. Karawulangu (Turtle)
12. Dragon

4.  Kaka (Cockatoo)

Sumba Ikat Motifs Kaka (Kakatua) Cockatoo - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Kaka (Cockatoo)

There is an expression in the Sumbanese language, namely “Kaka Ma Kanguhuru, Pirihu Pa Uli” meaning Cockatoo in groups, Parrot with friends. The Kakatua symbol symbolizes “Unity”, reflecting the soul of the Sumbanese people in making decisions on various affairs, through the way of Deliberation for consensus.

Sumba Ikat Motifs Piriihu (Parrot) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Piriihu (Parrot)

Piriihu (Parrot) symbolizes deliberation to reach a consensus.

Sumba Ikat Motifs Manginu (Sparrows) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Manginu (Sparrows)

Manginu (Sparrows) is a symbol of peace.

Other phrases in the Sumbanese language such as “ambu kaka ngandi undi, ambu manginu ngandi rota” means don’t be a cockatoo carrying nettles, don’t be a sparrow that causes itching. This expression contains advice and warnings for everyone to always be aware of people who bring and spread things that cause division and unrest in people’s lives.

5. Kataru Mbakul (Snake)

In Hindu culture, the snake is a symbol of the underworld, water and represents the female side. This motif is a symbol of arrogance, arrogance, character which symbolizes human nature which is complicated, full of anger, vindictive, always looking for opportunities to beat his opponents.

Sumba Ikat Motifs Katara Mbakul (Ular - Snake) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Katara Mbakul (Ular – Snake)

This snake motif is always used in conjunction with the Shrimp (Kurang) motif. Associated with the indigenous Sumbanese belief that: “behind death, there is a new life, symbolized by the change of skin”.

6.  Ruha (Deer)

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Ruha (Deer)

The splendor of the deer antlers symbolizes the wisdom of a leader who pays attention to the lives of the people he leads and is able to overcome the problems faced by the community.

This motif symbolizes a high degree, Courage, Majesty, and Wisdom. There is also a mention as a symbol of nature conservation.

7. Kurangu (Shrimp)

Shrimp are animals that live in water and have the habit of walking hand in hand and this trait attracts the attention of the Sumbanese mind as revealed in traditional literature: “Kura Angu Kudu, Karongu Angu Londa” meaning Shrimp friends with shoulders, Crab friends holding hands. This expression symbolizes brotherhood, unity, and strength.

The Great Shrimp Pattern (Kura Mbiu / Kandala) also symbolizes the Sumbanese ancestral belief that behind death there is a new life or hope for eternal life or there is a change in life that is different from the present life. This is revealed in the traditional literary language, namely “Njulu La Kura Luku, Halubu La Mandu Mara” which means Incarnate Like Shrimp, Flake off the skin like the land snake.

Sumba Ikat Motifs Kurangu (Udang - Shrimp) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Kurangu (Shrimp)

In Indigenous language, the word Shrimp is always coupled with the word Crab because if crabs walk similar to Shrimp, they always go hand in hand. The Shrimp and Crab pattern also symbolizes Leaders whose attitudes and behavior are mature or mature, expressed in traditional literary languages: “Kura Miti Ndolu, Karungu Rara Kaba” which means Black Shrimp Clasps, Red Crab Skin / Shell.

The pattern of Shrimp coupled with Fish, symbolizes human nature whose words and actions do not match, such as the Indigenous language expression, namely “Kura Laku Dalungu, Kambuku Lindi Pinungu” which means Shrimp Walking Bottom / Bottom, Fish Swimming on the Surface.

8. Karunggu (Crab)

Sumba Ikat Motifs Karunggu (Kepiting - Crab) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Karunggu (Crab)

Karunggu (Crab) is a symbol of beauty and prosperity.

9. Iyang (Fish)

Sumba Ikat Motifs Iyang (Ikan - Fish) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Iyang (Fish)

Iyang or fish is a symbol of beauty and prosperity.

10. Wuya (Crocodile)

The Wuya Rara (Crocodile) motif is a symbol of royalty or nobility as well as a symbol of Magic, Courage, Greatness, and Influence.

Sumba Ikat Motifs Wuya (Buaya - Crocodile) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Wuya (Crocodile)

As there is a story: A king of Sumba who’s called Ana Wuya Rara, he’s a feared crocodile. The king’s wife is called Ana Kara Wulang, which is a turtle as the crocodile’s partner. When Ana Kara Wulang is upside down, she needs the help of the others to help her turn over. Both patterns symbolize the king and empress must be patient, protect, and remember their people. Neither can live alone without the people. Crocodile with turtle (remember Sumbanese philosophy, dualism, or dualism). Thus the art of words was born in the stanzas of Ana Wuya Rara & Ana Kara Wulang, the Red Crocodile and the Scaly Turtle.

11.  Karawulangu (Turtle)

Sumba Ikat Motifs Karawulangu (Kura-kura - Turtle) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Karawulangu (Turtle)

This motif is the same as the crocodile motif, symbolizing greatness.

The Tanoma / Kara (Turtle) motif is a symbol of the Queen or Empress in the kingdom (Queen Karawulang). The crown of a queen in Sumba is also made of turtle shells.

12. Dragon

Dragon is not found in Sumba, which is the original style of Chinese society. Known through the jars that enter the Sumba area.

Sumba Ikat Motifs Naga (Dragon) - Kaliuda Gallery Bali

Sumba Ikat Motifs: Naga (Dragon)

The dragon pattern is evidence that in the past there had been trading interactions with the Chinese/Chinese people who brought porcelain ceramics in the form of plates, jars, bowls, and others to be exchanged for sandalwood. The dragon symbolizes authority, courage, and victory.


Sumba ikat had been produced for centuries. The Indonesian word ‘ikat’ means to ‘tie’ or ‘bind’, which alludes to the intricate and long-winded process of creating these incredible textiles. The motifs used in the textiles were always very traditional and passed down through the generations. Also often specific to the clan or village where the ikat was being made. Want to know more about the meaning of Sumba Ikat Motifs? Don’t forget to visit us again next week for “Sumba Ikat Motifs: Flora Fauna – Part 3”. 



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