TO DIVERT THE ATTENTION FOR A MOMENT…
Whilst I’ve found working on the analysis report and program these past few weeks to be incredibly fascinating, and exciting too – allowing me to simulate what I presume to be the practices of a university student – I’ve now reached a point where, to progress, I must digress. The focus, in the hope of re-establishing productivity via the art of perception, must be temporarily excused of all things data, percentages, research studies, comparisons, numbers and so forth.
An agreement which, after some time spent rescuing the garden from the problem of now too much rain, combined with an innings sifting through a folder full of colourful frames of memory – filling the mind with nothing beyond what these invoked the imagination to reveal – I guess is currently in its process of transaction.
To add some stimulant to this otherwise inconvenient distraction though, please find below a small selection of these that, well, actually impelled me to type you this short letter.
Kind regards, Rob
Customary paint, 'Kiniu Sailuk', which is concocted using the dust of a crushed forest stone, soot, tree sap, and a small amount of pig skin oil, is applied to Sikerei (shamans) face during the occasion of a ceremony
In Mentawai culture, traditionally, if the parents separate the child must always live with the father, however, if there has been wrongdoing by the father - for instance marriage taboo's were broken, the child will instead live (for the most part) with the eldest male sibling or father of the mother
The Mentawai Sikerei (shaman), similar to those from many other Indigenous cultures, will mimic the behaviours of native animals and communicate stories through their ritual dances - 'muturut'
Willing its spirit to provide protection over the clan, the skulls of all animals sacrificed are rebound and hung inside the Uma
During gatherings, food - including pig, chicken, sweet potato, banana, sago, etc - will always be carefully portioned and shared amongst all members of the clan. Which will also include an offering made to the spirits, as a thanks for their safety and protection - 'pusurakat'
The clan 'longhouses', the Mentawai Uma, aside from being their 'central hub of cultural activity and existence', have been (hand) built to house up to eight or more families at any one time
During celebration Sikerei will perform song, dance and ritual throughout the entire night - which, depending on the occasion, can be anywhere from over one or two days to an entire month
It's common to see the young Mentawai children impersonate Sikerei during times of ceremony, particularly with traditional song, dance, and decoration