Mentawai Island of Sumatra - Indonesia Tour Packages
mentawai sumatra, indonesia tour


Four islands make up the Mentawai cluster off the West Sumatra coast : Siberut, Sipora, North Pagai and South Pagai. The people of these islands still live in comparative isolation, maintaining their age-pld ways. Siberut is becoming increasingly popular as an area for trekking and visiting these ancient cultures. It is well known for its virgin rainforest, inhabited by a number of animal species not found anywhere else in the world, among them rare monkey species. Beautiful coral reefs are found offshore.

The Mentawai people are one of the indegenous ethnic group which live in comparative isolation. Gua Ngalau Indah is a deep cave cover with bats all over. You would not able to see it,but would hear and sense as they fly close over you.

Most Mentawai have traditionally settled inland along the banks in the upper reaches of rivers. The major source of carbohydrate is sago palm (metroxylon sagu), which grows in natural swamps and also creates its own swamps by retaining water in the networks of roots, when planted on flat ground. Fish prawns and pig are the most common source of protein.

Community and Culture
Siberut is only a relative small island the internal variation in language, culture in life style and in recourses explotation is rather substantial. There is no clear indication of when man first arrived on Siberut, but anthropologist suggest that the bataks of the north Sumatra first settled on the island several years ago. In many ways the people of Siberut are among the most archaic people in Indonesia.

The mentawai are traditionally organized as patrilineal groups and the social life was centered around the UMA , a communal long house which held a group of people related through a common ancestor. The UMA vary in size between 30 to 80 members divided in nuclear family units, refered to as LALEP. Because of internal friction group might split up and a new group might be formed by a number of people. Sometimes this might even be a single family.

The Mentawai believe in spirit all living object, men, plants, and animals are supposed to have spirit. The only specialist in the community was the medicene man the KEREI, responsible for communication with spirit and the souls. In case of misfortune or illness he was called in the perform healing ceremonies to restore harmony within the group in relation with the spirit of the environment , which was looked upon as the world of ancestors. An elaborate Taboo system based on religious beliefs with respect to the environment was a dominant characteristic of traditional life on Siberut.

Visit and stay in a mentawaian villages and experience sharing on the daily life, such as trek to the jungle , learn about sago processing, bark cloth processing and do other activities that will heighten your interest in and fascination with the natural philosophy of the mentawaians.

Traditional Mentawai Religion
According to the traditional religion (Arat Sabulungan), all beings objects and natural phenomena have a soul or spirit (simagre). Souls can separate from the body and roam freely. If the harmony between body and soul is not maintained the souls will leave the body and cause sickness and disorder.

Belief in these concepts regulates much of the daily activities in Siberut. Human activities can disturb the balance and harmony of spirits in nature. Religious ceremonies, known as punen, puliaijat and lia, must therefore accompany these activities to reduce disturbance and restore balance. Punen and puliaijat ceremonies are conducted by several kerei (medicine-men). The kerei can communicate with the spirits and souls that are invisible to humans. Souls of the living and the dead are given offerings, and a colorful feast is made.

The traditional house (uma) is decorated, pigs are sacrificed and dances (turuk) made to please the spirits so that they will return and restore harmony. During times of ceremony complex systems of taboos (kekei) must be observed and disturbing activities are forbidden. Traditional mentawai religion and especially taboos has to led to human population control and restriction on forest explanation for thousand of years. Today however traditions are disappearing, the human populations is growing fast and natural resources are being exploited without any regulation.

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