The island of Sumba in eastern Indonesia is home to the Pasola festival - a potentially fatal spear-throwing fight on horseback.

Sometimes called the Forgotten Island, Sumba's people still follow ancient customs and traditions. Their unique thatched houses have three levels: the lower one is for livestock, the middle is for humans (women in rooms on the left, men on the right) and the top level is where is the ancestors live.

stars
The Milky Way arcs over traditional houses in Wainyapu village on the island of Sumba, Indonesia, during the Pasola Festival, an event held every year to welcome the new harvest season

The Pasola is held every year in February or March when the Nyale, or sea worms, can be found in the shallow waters. The coming of the worms marks the end of the wet season and the time to begin planting rice – and the time to saddle up and throw spears at your rivals.

The ancient fighting game involves two teams of men on horseback charging towards each other with spears. It's a dangerous sport; players and even spectators can be injured or killed. It is believed that any spilled blood will fertilise the land and increase the year's rice crop.

sea worms
Villagers gather on the beach at sunrise to look for sea worms. These worms, known as Nyale, can be found in the shallow waters during February and March. The coming of the worms marks the end of the wet season and the time to begin planting rice
sea worms
A woman holds a bowl of sea worms. The size and the shape of the worms are believed to predict the year's rice crop
pasola
Rriders prepare to throw their spears during the Pasola war festival
man on horseback
A man rides into 'battle'
throw spear
A rider tries to hit a rival with a 'pasol' javelin
arsenal shirt
A boy wearing an Arsenal shirt sits on horseback at the festival
A Pasola rider throws his spear
A Pasola rider throws his spear
machetes
Men wield machetes as a fight breaks out between supporters of rival teams
soldier
A soldier holds a rifle as a fight breaks out between supporters of the two teams
pig roast
Sumbanese men prepare a roasted pig for the feast
chicken
A man grills a chicken over an open fire
chicken organ
A priest predicts the future by reading the organs of a grilled chicken
prayer
A young man prays at the tomb of his ancestors
prayer mouths
Villagers, their mouths stained with betel nut juice, perform a prayer ritual at the graves of their ancestors
Map
The island of Sumba is in eastern Indonesia, between Malaysia and Australia