I have been trying to post this article since 3 days ago, I did not make it through regarding internet connection issue, I hope you can enjoy my little story about one of isolated tribe on Seberut-Mentawai Island.
Two days in Butu Village
I am trying to present as complete as possible and include all related photos which I still have today. Most of those photos have been lost in a broken hard drive a few years ago. This is the second part of my journey to isolated area on Mentawai island. I have forgotten most of their names and their relative, I have tried to find my note book where I strongly believe that I kept those informations, but it seems I did not make it, so I will go ahead with what remain in my memory.
The day before at the evening we arrived at Butu village when they were celebrating Christmas. We planned to stay 2 days in the village in order to have enough time to learn more about their culture and their way of life. We stayed at their Uma during our visit. Uma is a big house sometimes it has one separated room, but mostly not. Uma is occupied by the chief of tribe, he plays the role as the head of village. In Butu we lived in Uma which belong to Ama Lepon.
That morning we took time to assimilate and get closer with the local villagers to know their culture and customs. We approached children to participate in painting together with us and used the utensil that we provided for their eagerness. We found that they were really enthusiasm to the subject. They were drawing and painting, some of them started to sketch their hand and some of them started to copy their fingers to the paper. It was really something to us. We love to see them doing it freely.
While they were actively doing their painting, I took the chance to talk much more with the elder and asking many questions about their culture and tattoo. It was getting me involved deeper into their culture. I started to discover the meaning behind the tattoo. The fact is, every single one has its own meaning. It is shown on the photos
The tattoo on his upper arm is as a mark that he has opened the new land and cultivates it to feed his family with honor. And the one on his thigh is a mark for his ability to build Uma for his family by himself (Main tribe House).
The tattoo at the back of the hand is a mark for his ability for fishing
They have different model of tattoo between the man and women, because between man and women has different task in the family. The main task for man in hunt the wild animal for food and the women forage the food from the farm and jungle and extracting sago as their main food. The women have their own mark on their bodies.
Lately, the younger generation do not willing to have tattoo because of their perspective of having tattoo has no benefit to the at all. They even refuse to be a Sikere (Healer/Shaman practicing traditional herbalist to cure the member of their tribe). There was a rumor I heard from the elder that in the 1960s Indonesian government proscribed to any of the tribe to have tattoo and live with their traditional way. The government disallowed them to trade or come into traditional market to get their need without wearing any clothes like their own way of life. The result of the obsolete regulation still influence to the present life, they will never be seen at local market as who they are. This tradition way of life will no longer exist if the government does not try to protect their culture and promote them as one of national treasure. Now they are granted permission to live their life as they are, or they do not pay attention to the government regulations anymore.
To be continued.............................................
I need to break the original post and divide it into several part of the story due to my bandwidth limit and internet connection issue
If you miss the first part of the story you can read it here