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Mentawai People at Siberut – Indonesia

Teeth sharpening - one of the mentawai traditions. Siberut island. Sumatra,  Indonesia. Siberut is a small island south of Sumatra. Even though it’s very close to busy Sumatra, life there stayed very traditional and the Mentawai people lives the same way like their used to live thousand years ago.

Mentawai man from Siberut island. Sumatra,  Indonesia. Mentawai people have their own language, culture and religion. They are good at making ships, excellent hunters, but they are not good farmers. The only traditional diet is sago, which they extracting from sago palm trees. Men are wearing loincloth made from skin of breadfruit tree. Women wear traditional skirts from palm leaves. Part of their traditional wearing is tattoo which is common for both men and women. They have long hairs and decorating themselves with wild flowers. Women are sharpening their teeth to be more beautiful.

Sago drying. Siberut island. Sumatra,  Indonesia. Their villages are in the middle of forest by the small rivers. The village can consist of even one house called uma. Normally there is more than one family living in one uma. The house has no windows and it’s standing on wooden pillars protecting the family from animals and high water. Uma is separated to three parts: porch, main room and kitchen. Mentawais are decorating the houses by skeletons of killed animals and in the past also their enemy. They believe it will bring them a good luck to the next hunts.

Siberut is a small island southwest from the city of Padang at Sumatra, about 1000km northwest from the capital Jakarta.


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