The Mentawai tribes remain one of the most isolated populations on the planet. Some still live a neolithic, hunter-gather lifestyle in the rain-forest and do not use a written language. Shaman, or sikerei, are intrinsic to daily life and considered leaders, although they are an egalitarian society. The classic Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim themes common to most of Indonesia are not part of the Mentawai belief system which is wholly based in nature. In their philosophy, objects are not things to be used, but rather things that can allow themselves to be used – as all things, including air and water, have spirits. This is reflected in their deeply symbolic decoration of objects as well as their characteristic body art. They adorn themselves with intricate spirit tattoos for protection, and practice tooth chiseling, to enhance physical and spiritual beauty. They believe they must keep their bodies beautiful so their spirits will be happy and not be tempted to leave. Their art is some of the most evocative and appealing of all the Indonesian cultures.
Used by shaman to store powerful ritual and magic items associated with trance journeys and ceremonies. Kept in the shaman’s house. Boats are a common theme within this island culture. 7 ¾” x 30” x 7 ½”, $1100.
Used by shaman to store implements to be used when called upon to convene with spirit world. 8” x 26” x 5 ¾”, $1100.
Used as a symbol to pray to. 15 ½” x 3 ½” x 6”, $1600.
Contents: costume (loincloth, jewelry, head gear) and wands. All items have a specific purpose – example: the beaded headband acts like antenna attracting spirits the shaman needs to contact, 5” x 8 ½” x 23 ½”, $3600. (See closed box in image below)
Contents: costume (loincloth, jewelry, head gear) and wands. All items have a specific purpose – example: the beaded headband acts like antenna attracting spirits the shaman needs to contact. 5 ½” x 7 ½” x 30 ½”, $3600.
Ritual zoomorphic amulets used in healing rituals. Dimesnisons: Left and Middle (right is Batak) (left, pigmented with soot – 2” x 7 ¾” x ¾”, $95); (middle – 2” x 7 ½” x 1”, $110.) (see detail in image below)
Usually found on the inner entrance of house. Made at the time the house is built and is protection for the inhabitants. A ritual hunt for a male bokkoi (macaque) monkey. its function is to both ward off evil spirits and to attract benevolent ones. The monkey plays a significant role in the protection by symbolically floating in the womb of the nature spirit. The carving is representative of a Tree of Life motif. And is also a symbol for the human soul after liberation from the physical body.