Last week, one of my photo story was published in The Jakarta Globe, an English language-based Indonesian daily. Those pictures was taken May 2010 on my trip to Siberut Island, the last stronghold of the Mentawai society. I love how the editor chose the pictures. The first (and the biggest) photograph depict Bajak Toikot, a Mentawai Shaman, who are getting back from the jungle. He is holding the hunting spear, in movement to the Uma (Mentawai traditional jungle hut), but with an empty basket. The other pictures complete the whole stroy as an insight into the Mentawai life.
The Mentawai are an egalitarian society living inside the jungle of Siberut Island. They used to live in other islands too on the island group of Mentawai. But modernization affected the others while left the jungle of Siberut as the only last place to meet them nowadays. The Mentawai of Siberut live in both traditional and natural way like their ancestors. They still practice hunting and cultivating the sago palm in order to feed the family. They also tattooed all over their body as an identity. They can distinguish people from different village just by looking at the tattoo. More about the Mentawai later.
Actually, I am not the one who documented the Mentawai. There are few others photographers who do so. Some of the best are Joey Lawrence and Diego Verges. However my favorite was taken by Sebastiao Salgado. There are also some more photographers who went here and out with magnificent work. I still remember when I read Smithsonian magazine somtime around last year in edition which covers about tattoo culture. Unfortunately I forgot the photographer’s name.