HomeBlogs Mentawai Tatoo The term “Tattoo” is taken from the word “Tatau” in the language of
Tahiti. Tattoo was first recorded by Western civilization in James
Cook’s expedition in 1769. According to some researchers, the oldest
tattoos found on Egyptian mummies from the 20th century BC. But, the art
of body painting found in almost all parts of the world with a variety
of designs and patterns.
Tattoos Egypt, which estimated the
oldest tattoo was discovered in 1300 BC. whereas the Mentawai been
tattooing their bodies since their arrival to the west coast of Sumatra
in the Age of Metal, 1500 BC – 500 BC. Proto-Malays nation came from
mainland Asia (Indochina).
According to the researchers “tattoo”
of Indonesia, Tattoo Mentawai is the oldest in the world known as Titi.
For the Mentawai society, a tattoo is the spirit of life. One of the
tattoo position is to show identity and difference in social status or
profession. For example, Tattoos Sikerei (called healers for the
Mentawai) different with tattoo hunter. Hunter known for his catch
pictures of animals, like pigs, deer, monkeys, birds, or alligators.
while Sikerei known from star tattoo “Sibalu-Balu” in those body.
on Mentawai tradition, tattoo also has a function as a symbol of
natural balance. In the tradition of Mentawai people, objects such as
rocks, animals, and plants should be enshrined in their body. They
regard all things have souls. Another function of the tattoo is art,
Mentawai people tattooing their bodies in accordance with his
The position of tattoo is governed by the
trustworthiness Mentawai tribe, “it’s termed Arat Sabulungan”. The term
is derived from the word “sa” (a collection), and “bulung” (leaves). A
collection of leaves that are arranged in a circle made of palm or sago
palm tops, which is believed to have magical power called “Kere” or
“Ketse”. It’s used as a medium for the cult of “Tai Kabagat Koat” (God
of Sea), “Tai Ka-leleu” (God of the forest and mountains), and “Tai Ka
Manua” (God of the clouds).
“Arat Sabulungan” used in every
ceremony, birth, marriage, medical, moving house, and tattoos. When boys
enter puberty, the age of 11-12 years, parents called Sikerei and
Rimata (tribal chief). They will negotiate to determine the day and
month of implementation of the tattoo.
After that, selected
“Sipatiti” (tattoo artist). Sipatiti isn’t based on the appointment of
public office, such as shamans or chiefs, but the male professions.
Expertise Sipatiti’s must be paid with a pig. Before the tattoo done,
arranged first Ceremony led by Sikerei, in “Puturukat” (sipatiti’s
Body of boy who would tattoo was drawn with a stick.
The sketch on the body was then stabbed with a wooden-handled needle.
the body of boy slowly beaten with a wooden bat to insert dyes into the
skin layer. Dyes used is a mixture of banana leaves and coconut shell
charcoal(Source, Ady Rosa-The Tattoo researchers).