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Mentawai Islands which is located around 180 miles from beach line in Sumatra Island, are consisted from 40 big and small islands. Between them is four big islands which is stayed the person, as the biggest island Siberut in the north, Sipora in the middle, North and South Pagai in the south division. All located at 1000 East and 50 South Greenwich below equator line and wide 6.700 km2.

In Mentawai Islands there is only hills which height doesn't exceed 500 meters. Generally develop land, flat with marshy. Also Mentawai to be still famed with his which forests (furthermore for wood entrepreneurs). Many small river in Mentawai, where used as general transportation.

Mentawai Society

Mentawai Society follow Patrilineal's society that was called with Uma, who Uma have meaning living place. Uma is stayed by several person who is still concerned one another in descendant matter, becomes the center life custom, that estimates and unify.
Even though they build the other house in far place, however communication with Uma remains to there is, because Uma is the main house.

There are three kinds as house in Mentawai:

Uma, Mentawai traditional house
  1. Uma
    Big house which becomes the main house of together with lodge place and place to keep inheritance. Also become holy place for presentation and quarry skull storage.
    Each village has Uma itself. Uma's head called Rimata, symbolizing honor leader, the wiser person concerning important matters for Uma, a person that is talented leader.
    Uma is the big house which functions as meeting place of all relatives and together with ceremonies for all member of clan.
  2. Lalep
    For living a couple that marriage had been legitimate by custom. Regularly lalep is located in Uma.
  3. Rusuk
    A special cottage (lodge place) for young man, widowed or tribesman who throw out from their clan.
Mentawai souvenir from wood Food

Main food of Mentawai person the one who lives at Pagai island, is taro, while at Siberut sago and banana. Generally, Mentawai person like eat meat of monkey, deer, pig and chicken. Pig's cutting is regularly carried out in time party (punen), as person's relation sign with world of soul.


Men clothes is kabit or cawat (loin-cloth). That lady wears skirt that made of leaf or the skin of wood. Remnants from clothes cutting is regularly taken to adornment. Tooth is intentionally sharpen and is critical to sharp.

Alongside with development, the society now Laughter to know clothes from cloth. Despite this, regularly Kerei (traditional heal) rarely or had worn no clothes from cloth.

Origins Suggestion

Mentawai quarter similar to with Sakai quarter in Malaysia. Even once there is, but in many matters there is its similarity. Such as traditions and practices and way of life almost same. Such as example, a quarter past two these eat sago and doesn't know the rice, to together eat the monkey. The different is located at method hunting. Mentawai quarter use poisonous arrow while Sakai quarter used sumpitan to release poisonous damak.
Their cigarette knows. Mentawai quarter smoke tobacco, while Sakai quarter champ such as menyugi.

According to Mentawai person, they originate from Nias. This confidence is based by tale fairy that tells that at period in the past a Nias calls Ama Tawe goes to sea to fish. Drifted in the middle of sea, descend terrible hurricane that drags Ama Tawe is stranded to Mentawai Island in the west side beach of Siberut Island. Ama Tawe rises and it sees land that is extremely developed to land. Taro's tree and sago grows personally and treats without there is the person who plants. Ama Tawe returns to Nias to take his child and wife. He wishes moving and will reside from Nias to Mentawai. It's departure to the new place is followed by many residents of Nias would like to wander. Eventually, those are the one who stays the area.

Believe Traditions and Practice

Mentawai person including animism's follower, that believes the souls. All something which there is alive. Purpose from the cults is so that is given health and long age.
To arise disease is assumed by vacancy life. While life departure, bring due to sick person. To heal the disease is needed Kerei (traditional heal). Death mean the life went to disappear forever.


Strong factors in unifying culture of each people is the custom. "Arat" in Nganga Mentawai (Mentawai language) and culture scoop diversified matter that is classify to tradition. Forefather's tradition should be received without accusation, because was fought from time to time, that bleeds meat in life the society as long as for many years. Because that, Arat becomes the norm for life the person, good by personal or in family and quarter. Arat is holy inheritance, because since is first met by grandmother, and its conservation should be well taken care of.

To obey Arat means to willing to itself are led by tradition that becomes prima's measurement in each moralities. Arat becomes main foundation and the norm in the determination all, the person, animal, the world's phenomenon and chain time.

Arat for Mentawai's society is suitability with world, unification with Uma and guarantee lives full that with peace and peaceful.

Religion / Belief

Mentawai's believe including into Arat. Group and gather from ceremonies were called with "Arat Sabulungan". Sabulungan originate from saying hair, that means leaf. Materials to lift the religious ceremony use much leaves and branches application.

Various of Sabulungan:

  1. Taikamanua
    That soul lives at the air and sky.
  2. Taikapolak
    appropriate soul lives in earth.
  3. Taikabaga
    that soul lives below land.
  4. Souls that specially takes care of animal
    a. Taikaleleu
        - Samajuju, as deer's protection.
        - Taikatengaloina, animal's protection that there is above tree.
    b. Taikbagakoat
        animal protection in sea.

Since second world war, had there been many changes, especially at south division. Change that happens scoop the belief and social structure. In others, relation with quarter neighboring, regulations government late decision letter and religious spreading, changed Mentawai culture and believed.

Although now Mentawai society to embrace the religion, however at their believe to Arat Sabulungan have not been scraped to finish at person's heart. One of for example is belief towards Kerei's medicine, more endowed with magical power compare with modern medicines and Puskesmas (local government clinic).

Because that, religious pattern in Mentawai called Bikultural, together live with original religion that is classify into flow of inner-self.

Society's Court

To meet with act evil in Mentawai, to be known as three method:

  1. Bekeu malekbuk
    If happened small theft, used ibiscus's flower to seek whom is the thief. Persons who is suspected are ordered sit going around to face a container that filled with water. In are adrift by ibiscus's flower with it short handle. Flower is encouraged revolving to encircle who persons to sit goes around. Are later encouraged once again when ordering the flower to seek who that is guilty. When is three times flower stop at same person, then that person is who are considered as thief. Everyone will wise, and quietly rise from sitting and go to leave the place peacefully and the orderly. Everyone cannot give commentary whatever because is looked not courteous and disobey the ceremony order. Person who is the accused if truly its thief will effort in returning the looting goods with quietly at night so that is not known by others. But, if the flower doesn't stop at same person, matter similar called with Taiteukenia, meaning the flower refuses to be ordered or not want show thief.
    Ceremony uses ibiscus's flower to rarely meet with certainty, furthermore for act surely doesn't want to follow, because he afraid of the person know.
  2. Tippu sasa
    Cutting cane ceremony (tippu sasa), it's aim for seeking the person who is accused do evil action. Person who is accused can prove that he had not done the matter. Or, sasa's cutting can also be carried out to strengthen an oath. Tippu Sasa's ceremony of more serious compared the ceremony sweeps away the flower (bekeu malekbuk), because this ceremony ensures life or death. Cause that, before the ceremony is being carried out, is done by discussion and thought that deep. In the ceremony will be selected by an umpire that can pacify.
  3. Tulou paboko
    it's means someone must pay the fine because slander, and this ceremony is anti magi's ceremony towards tippu sasa.

Because that, in Mentawai's society ruining accusation towards a person should be carried out with carefully, because without strong evidences or in fact of false accusation, then will return to him where accuser eventually pay the fine to the accused (tulou paboko). This matter is the good name return the accused who is accused does evil that is not he carries out.


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