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The traditional tattoos – which, for various cultures worldwide, where their tribal markings have been nothing short of fundamental in shaping their identity, their culture, and their existence – are now vanishing, rapidly… and in many cases leaving behind no visual evidence for future generations, whatsoever. After thousands of years being passed from generation to generation, these intricate, purposive markings, speaking stories of cultural history from growth to existence, are disappearing, never to be seen of again. A sad realization this, indeed, and that of which is – for the people of Mentawai- now a reality.

As it goes, with fewer of the new generation youth seeming interested in progressing this custom, and a depleting number of individuals surviving the knowledge and skill of traditional Mentawai hand-tapping technique, there grows an increasing concern amongst the elders for the loss of this practice, and inevitably, a significant part of Mentawai culture.

However, and like other sacred aspects of this Indigenous culture, it’s not too late to offer some support and protection, which, in relation to the aforementioned, is exactly what Aman Durga Sipatiti, Panche Satoko, and Rahung Nasution hope to achieve with their collaborative project, Mentawai Tattoo Revival.

Beginning in February 2009, the team began researching, studying, illustrating, tattooing and documenting the life of the Titi (traditional Mentawai tattoo), including extensive research and workshops held in the Matotonan and Sakuddei region; where, Aman Durga, a professional tattooist also skilled in the art of traditional hand-tapping, was able to offer help to other Sikerei (shaman) and their wives, who, due to increasing difficulty in locating local Sipatiti (Mentawai tattoo artists), had been unable to complete their required markings, and rite of passage.

After then finding that a number of specific region/clan tattoo styles have already disappeared, with no living trace to be found, Mentawai Tattoo Revival began focusing its research and studies heavily on the markings with which some form of evidence still existed – discussing with elders the origins, meanings, and intricate variations in styles, whilst logging visual documentation for future reference, which, in time, I’m sure will be greatly appreciated.

For extensive visuals, a deeper insight into these findings, and to show support, simply take the time to check out the Mentawai Tattoo Revival page, the informative documentary productions, the many images, and the recent articles published in the Indonesian Heritage Magazine, Warisan.

Help keep Titi Mentawai alive.



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