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Home » Off The Beaten Track at The Remote Nias Island » Barefoot Boulder Jumping: Attaining Warrior status on Nias

Barefoot Boulder Jumping: Attaining Warrior status on Nias

 

Overview

 The stones stand roughly 2 meters high and 60 – 90 centimeters wide. With a running start from not too far back, a young Nias man sprints across the short distance and leaps effortlessly through the air. The towering, castle-like boulder is not even grazed as the young man lands gracefully on the other side.

 

From the age of 7, the boys on the island of Nias practice the ancient art of boulder jumping. As their age increases, so does the height of the boulders they dare defy. For the young men of the Nias tribes, the time would come when they would have to prove their courage and maturity as a warrior through a series of tests. Warriors of Nias must first be strong. Next they must be skilled in martial arts and trained in black magic. The last and final test for the warriors is to leap over massive stones, measuring as high as 2 meters without so much as touching the surface. Stone jumping on Nias Island is referred to as HomboBatu or Fahombo, and is a tradition that has been faithfully practiced and preserved for centuries.


The tradition of stone jumping first began during a time when inter-tribal wars were widespread across the island. The tribes of Nias are a warring people, and every man a fighter. Provoked by war, vengeance, border disputes and slavery, every village fortified its territory with high stone walls, fringed with sharpened bamboo stakes across its top. It was through this, that Fahombo was born – the art whereby warriors could invade a rival village by means of nothing but pure muscle, strength and skill.


In modern times, the Fahombo tradition is not done in preparation for war, but rather as a ritual and symbol of Nias Culture. Youths who successfully achieve this skill are considered to have reached maturity and crossed from childhood into adulthood. Completing the Fahombo brings not only pride to both the youth and their families, but cause for great celebration and festivities as well.


This amazing art can be witnessed at several villages across Nias Island, such as Bawomataluo in South Nias.

Nias is an archipelago off the West coast of North Sumatra consisting of 131 islands. Pulau Nias is the largest of these islands, covering an area of about 5,000 square kilometers—slightly smaller than Bali. Nias Island itself is approximately 125 km west of Sumatra. Nias’ numerous and varied attractions range from surfing some of the best waves in the world to exploring and discovering Nias’ ancient culture and megalithic relics.

 

 

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Barefoot Boulder Jumping:  Attaining Warrior status on Nias

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