chapter  4
26 Pages

Other eastern islands

In this chapter I review hominoid images from the islands of Sumba, Sumbawa, Timor and the Moluccas and Sulawesi (see Map 4). The focus, I should stress, is on accounts of small, hirsute and group-living creatures whose descriptions largely correspond to Florenese categories described in the previous chapter. By the same token, I am not concerned with mysterious, usually glabrous and typically more fantastically conceived beings assuming a human guise and possessing supernatural powers, which appear to be represented everywhere in the archipelago. In recent years, such diminutive ‘little people’ may actually have become more common in the eastern islands, owing to the spread of an originally Javanese but now pan-Indonesian image named ‘kurcaci’, a sort of elf or brownie sometimes observed inside towns and villages and only partially corresponding to indigenous spirit images (such as the ‘nitu’ of Flores). To judge from local reports, while these kurcaci have proliferated in recent times, hairy hominoids, by contrast, have become decidedly scarcer.