The Mentawai tribe consisting of almost 64,000 people is aboriginal people who live in Indonesia. They have managed to keep themselves aloof and away from the modern world. Both men and women of this tribe have decorative tattoos all over their body. Yet another feature of these tribe people is that they sharpen their teeth with chisels. There is a prevalent belief among the men of this tribe that their sharpened teeth will make them attractive and their opposite sex will be drawn towards them naturally.
The Mentawai’s live a semi-nomadic life and have stemmed from transmigrating inhabitants of the Malayo-Polynesian region. They speak a language which is based on an ‘Austronesia Proto Lingo’. Their homes are known as Umas which is built by means of bamboo, grass, and wood and furnished with the skulls of prey which they hunt. If any case of misfortune or even sickness strikes them then they call their medicine man who communicates with the spirits.
The women walk around with bare upper portion of their body. The life of these tribes revolves round their clans varying in size of 30 to 80 members and in the centre is the communal long house. They believe that all living beings including plants have spirits. They are all very happy and love people from outside their world to visit them.
Let’s take a glimpse of the daily life of these nomads on the island through photographs:
#1 Men of the Mentawai tribe, hunt for food with guns.
#2 An elderly Mentawai warrior smoking hand rolled cigarette.
#3 A woman kneeling on the floor of Uma is seen fixing a handmade fishing net.
#4 They use hand woven nets to dig the mud and then catch shrimp, fish, and crabs in the bamboo pipes.
#5 One for all, all for one the motto of these tribes are seen in the communal long house, where they live together
#6 The decorative tattoos on their body for which they are very famous.
#7 An elderly Mentawai warrior is teaching a young boy the art of folding a large palm or banana leaf.
#8 Mentawai medicine man who is also known as Sikerei are seen here performing their dance rituals
#9 Woman preparing sago which is the staple food of these people as modernity fails to even touch them.
The Mentawai without any doubt are one among the few tribes that still lives in Indonesia, are as of now in danger of being eliminated as the mechanized world moves stealthily and are very close to them. The majority of these tribes’ people refuse anything which has any link with modern life as they like to attach to their conventional clothes, tools and customs, like tattoos.
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