There is quite some speculation about the origin of this breed. Some claim they would be a sub-species of junglefowl before cross breeding with other breeds. Others believe they are a cross-breed of Gallus varius, Green junglefowl or even pheasantlike cross-breeds. How ever, they were created on Sumatra (Indonesia-Sunda Islands) and are one of the oldest fowl breeds. Despite their elegant appearance they are realy game fowl. Under the name Ayam Sumatra they were used purely in the gamepit.
Around 1850 they were imported into America where they gained popularity rapidly thanks to their exotic character. After the gamepit lost interest in this breed the were breed for shows only. In 1883 the breed was given a standard and was admitted in the ASP (American Standard of Perfection) Around this same period they were introduced in Germany and around 1900 into England. After that other European countries followed. The bantam was created in the Netherlands both in black and blue.
The carriage of Sumatra appears pheasantlike, the body is carried almost horizontal. Both hen and stag have a low placed, small pea comb. The facial color varies from darkred to purplish. The eyes are brown to darkbrown (the darker the better, as long there is a difference between iris and pupil) The head is typical small and “snakelike”. The feathers are full and lustrous and the black variety is known for it’s strong beetle green shine. The tail is rich and the feathers only bow after two third of its lenght. The shafts are stiff and hard. Preferable in Dutch standard non sweeping. The upper tail feathers of the hens are bowed. The legs are black(ish) to olive green with yellow soles. Sometimes a sole is black spotted wich seems to be connected to darker faces. Sumatraroosters can be multiple spurred.
Sumatras are alert and very mobile fowl. At danger they can fly straight up. Their eggs are light to white in color. The hens lay well and can be broody several times in a season. As parents they are quite fierce in protecting their offspring. One of my own hens took a dive at a megpie that stole one of her chicks, while in the air she managed to save it with succes!! All that flies past will be attacked with high spirit! Even the dog that grew up with them wasn’t safe. While Sumatras are relatively close to wild fowl they can get very nervous