Indonesia

Domestic pigs as food by Mentawais

Domestic pigs are a typical gift from a Mentawai family to a shaman for his support or services. In our case, Aman Aru attended a ceremony in a neighboring uma (family home in the forests), which had to be cleaned…

Mentawai forest huts

Forest huts of the Mentawai people at Siberut Island are used for various reasons and purposes. One is a permanent dwelling of single, old men not living with their family in the Uma (family home in the forest). This was…

Rattan fruits in Siberut jungles

Rattan fruits are available throughout the year in all Southeast Asian rainforests. There are about 600 different species of rattans, and many of them bear edible fruits. However, rattan prickles are a common nuisance when walking in the jungle. Nevertheless,…

Carrying baskets of Mentawai people

Two types of carrying baskets were used during my stay with the Mentawai people at Buttui on Siberut Island. One, locally called Opa, was fully enclosed on the sides and had an open rattan bottom. The other type was entirely…

Cutting tools at Siberut Island

The cutting tools of Mentawai people living in the forests are adzes, axes, machetes, and one specialized knife. All these tools have a solid historical background and are still used today. During my stay with a Mentawai family in December…

Sago worms of an unidentified species at Siberut Island

Sago worms are one of the food items that come naturally with the Mentawai’s staple food of sago flour. The worms grow in felled palm trunks or destined saplings. They are not worms but larvae and pupae of the Palm…

Domestic chicken as food by Mentawais

Domestic chickens are omnipresent around every Uma (family home) in the forests of Siberut Island. During nighttime, they will be kept in closed coops to protect them from predators like civet cats. While staying with Mentawais, I observed no nesting…

Rattan leaf stalks for coconut grating

Rattan leaf stalks have been, since immortal times, the tools with which Mentawai people have been grating coconuts. These long-lasting tools grate the coconuts into the required size of flakes. When worn out or broken, a new one will be…

Taro – another staple food of the Mentawai people

Taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) is one of the three staple food items of the Mentawai people on Siberut Island in Indonesia. The other two are sago and bananas. In many other countries, taro leaves and corms are eaten. Mentawais…

Roasted Sago sticks on Siberut Island

Roasted sago starch is the staple food for Mentawai people living in the moist, tropical forests of Siberut Island, off the coast of Western Sumatra in Indonesia. On the other hand, sago boiled to porridge, is eaten as a staple…

White Ginger Lily for cleaning hands

White Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronarium J. Koenig) belongs to the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) botanical family. Mentawai people use the crushed stem to clean their hands after touching arrow poison or one of its two poisonous main constituents. Plant description The Missouri…

Mentawai arrow poison

Mentawai people use poison on their arrows to hunt game. In former articles on this website, we discussed the hunting methods of the Mentawai people. After that, an actual hunt for Flying foxes was presented. After that, we discussed the…

Hunting arrows and quivers of the Mentawai people

Bow and arrows are the primary hunting weapons for the Mentawai people. Their bows were already described here. This article will explain the different types of arrows used for these bows and give an insight into the quivers used. In…

Building a specialized fishing boat at Padang

In Indonesia, there exists a wide variety of traditional fishing boat designs. Most of them are variations of standard types, which were adapted to local needs and conditions. And many of them are not systematically described yet. This article tries…

Mentawai Hunting bows

Hunting bows are the main hunting weapon for the Mentawai people and are very personal items for a hunter. They have great skills in using them and practice shooting from childhood onwards. During my stay with the Mentawais, I looked…

Flying fox hunting

Flying fox hunting remains a prevalent activity in Indonesia, particularly in Sumatra. Aceh, the northernmost province, is the epicenter of the trade in Flying fox meat. Locals believe that this meat possesses qualities to alleviate asthma, although this claim lacks…

Hunting methods of Mentawai people

The hunting methods of the Mentawai people have developed over about 3000 years. Their ancestors were of a Mongolian race that migrated from Taiwan via the Philippines to modern-day Indonesia. They arrived around 1000 BC at Siberut island in West…

How Mentawai people assemble roof thatching panels

Roof thatching is vital for shelter waterproofing in the Mentawai tribe of around 6,000 people on Siberut Island, Indonesia. Siberut lies about 100 miles (160 km) west of Padang in West Sumatra. Of the 6,000 Mentawai people, roughly 1,000, mainly…