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Story Publication logo May 11, 2021

'When We Die, We Bring Our Tattoos With Us': Saving the Almost Extinct Tattoo Art of the Mentawai (bahasa Indonesia)


West Sumatra, Siberut Island. Image by Gudkov Andrey / Shutterstock. Indonesia, 2010.

Siberut Island is a unique island of Mentawai Islands, in the western of Sumatera Island, Indonesia...


The story excerpt and photo captions below were translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the story in full in bahasa Indonesia visit the BBC Indonesia website. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Teu Jorik Ogok Sabendang was walking down the street one morning in the middle of her village in Muntei, Simatalu Village, West Siberut, Mentawai Islands.

She wore two red hibiscus flowers in her hair and a long beaded necklace around the neck. Her body was shrouded in a green shirt and knee-length Bermuda pants.

At first glance there was nothing out of the ordinary about her appearance. But her neighbors noticed something brand new on both of her legs: the circular fence motif and the Manau thorn motif.

Teu Jorik's smile grew as her neighbors admired the new tattoo on her leg.