Siberut Island in the Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra, is a place to see and explore the traditional life of the Mentawai Tribe.
There are several tourist villages that can be visited, including Muntei, Madobag, Ugai, Butui, Atabai and Matotonan in South Siberut District.
Uma is a name for the Mentawai traditional house. Each clan has a large house to hold traditional activities, such as punen or parties. Uma is made of wood with a leaf roof. The size is quite big, extends to the back with a broad veranda too.
At the entrance of the house, there is a place to hang the skulls of monkeys, pigs, and birds from hunting activities. In the middle of the Uma, there is a stone fireplace, called Abut Kerei. Its function is for lighting in the night, a place to heat the Gajeuma (drum) when Sikerei (shamans and healers) dance in a ritual.
Inside the Uma, there are many large cauldrons hanging neatly on the wall. There are more than 30 cauldrons. Those cauldrons are called Alak Toga or dowry from the groom to the woman’s family.
In the back of the Uma there is a large, walled room, a place to sleep at night. Inter-bed rooms are limited by mosquito nets. At the back of the room, there is a kitchen with a stone stove for daily cooking.
In the traditional village of Siberut, men cultivate sago trees on the banks of the river. Sago is a staple food of the Mentawai Tribe.
After being processed, sago flour which is still wet and hard is shredded again with grated rattan, then wrapped in sago leaves and roasted. Making food from sago is carried out by the women.
Food from sago is called Kapurut and is a daily staple food. Kapurut can be eaten without side dishes, or with boiling river fish in bamboo tubes. Can also be eaten with boiled fish. One sago tree can support a family for six months.
Mentawai Tribe loves to hunt. They hunt using arrows smeared with poison potions. The poison concoction is made from plants around Uma. After applying the poison, the arrows are dried in the sun and stored in bamboo tubes. The poison of this arrow is so deadly, that even scratching it with hands can cause death. No animal can survive long after being poisoned by the arrow even a small wound in the tail animals.
How to get there?
South Siberut can be reached by boat from Padang City with the “Mentawai Fast” fast boat at the Port of Muaro Padang departs every Tuesday and Thursday. The travel time is about 3.5 hours to the Mailepet Dock, South Siberut.
From Mailepet Dock to Muntei Village, you can rent a motorbike because it is near and only one kilometer away.