The Mentawai live in the traditional dwelling called the uma which is a longhouse and is made by weaving bamboo strips together to make walls and thatching the roofs with grass, the floor is raised on stilts and is made of wood planks.
The main clothing for men is a loin cloth. Mentawai adorn themselves with necklaces and flowers in their hair and ears. Women wear a cloth wound around the waist and small sleeveless vests. Mentawai sharpen their teeth with a chisel for aesthetic reasons. Tattooing is done with a needle and wood which is hammered on the needle by a shaman called sikerei.
Tattooing on the island was an identity and a personal or communal reflection of the people's relationship to nature, called arat subulungan, although there are motivational and design differences from region to region and among clans.
During the pre-independence era, the cultural influence of foreign colonials and other islanders had systematically disp...