LEARN WHILE YOU SURFING IN INDONESIA: MENTAWAI TRIBE IN NIAS ISLAND
Surfcamp in Nias Island welcomes you to explore the nature and meet indigenous people who are just as fascinating as the beaches. Experience living close to nature and working things in old ways!
When you go surfing in Indonesia especially in West Sumatera; you will find Mentawai people, the tribe who inhabits the virgin rainforest and lives in isolation. It’s a pleasant surprise knowing that one of the best preserved cultures in the world lives side by side with the most incredible tidal waves!
One of the highlights of your journey when surfing in Nias Island is to find the breathtaking panoramas of the jungles abound with wildlife, and the opportunity to meet Mentawaians – a clan of families, hunters and shamans who have just recently come into contact with the modern world that surround them.
Mentawai is divided into islands namely Sipora, South and North Pagai, and Siberut. The latter is the most isolated place due to the lack of communication and poor transportation in and out the island. In this ancestral land, skilful hunters and craftsmen of Mentawaians raise livestock animals, hunt their own food, make their own boats and build their own houses.
Agriculture is one of the important activities. Having their own culture and belief, Mentawaians’ skills can be characterized by the inks on their body. For example, the shamans and hunters have specific animal tattoos on their body. The males and females of Mentawai also preserve nature’s beauty like the sun, trees, and other symbols in forms of patterned tattoo. This tradition has been passed down till today because of the belief that when they die, their spirit can recognize the ancestors.
Mentawaians live in traditional homes called, Uma. Uma house shows you how Mentawaians live in total harmony with the nature and their spiritual belief. Uma house has a unique philosophy instead of just a living space. Each chamber of the two-storey home; represents a purpose for work, ceremony, and ritual. There is also a space dedicated for dancing hall with the surface made from smooth planks. During special nights, Mentaiwans perform ritual dances to express gratitude to mothernature.
There are three major types of woods to construct this traditional home; Meranti, Bamboo and Rattan. What’s amazing about Uma houses is that; none of them uses nails! Instead, the interlocking system relies on ropes and pegs. You can stay in Mentawai village and trek to the jungle. Have an insight of what the traditional people do day by day and learn how they make bark cloth. Also, try the dietry staple, Sago!
To experience the tribal life of Mentawai while surfing in Nias Island, you can go to Siberut using ferry from Padang, West Sumatera. It takes 12 hours to cross to Muara Siberut and please note that Padang is the only gateway to reach Mentawai. Ferries from and to Padang are provided by the government and those that operate on specific schedules are Ambu-Ambu and Sumber Rezeki. All ferries depart at night around 7 or 8 p.m.