Nias Ceremonial Stone Jump – Bawolato, Indonesia - Atlas Obscura

Nias Ceremonial Stone Jump

Bawolato, Indonesia

Warrior training: The Indonesian tourist trap. 


From the age of 10, boys on the Indonesian island of Nias prepare for their stone jump. It’s not complicated, and the act is exactly as it sounds. Boys become men on the island by leaping over a stone wall, sometimes as high as six feet.

Before Bawomataluo, a city on the island of Nias became a hotbed for tourist activity and Western backpackers, the stone jump was a ritual taken very seriously. Boys leapt to their adulthood, dressed in warrior garb, signifying that they were ready to fight and assume the responsibilities of men. Leaping the stone barrier, ranging in height from 1.5-2 meters, was essentially a final task in warrior training. There is even some historical indication that sharpened bamboo was placed atop the barrier to increase the stakes of the jump.

Today, the jump is still taken seriously and many boys begin training at a young age. However, it has also become a serious spectacle for gawking tourists that want to see traditional rites of another culture. Along with the stone jump, the traditional war dance on the island similarly draws in the gazes of visitings Westerners.

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September 13, 2011

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