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Local People

HISTORICAL NOTES

Mentawai (also known as Mentawei and Mentawi) are the native people of the Mentawai Islands. They live a seminomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the coastal and rainforest environments of the island. The population is estimated to be about 64.000 and the Mentawai language belongs to the Austronesian language family.

The Mentawai live in the traditional dwelling called the UMA, which is a longhouse and is made by weaving bamboo strips together to make walls and thatching the roofs with grass. The floor is raised on stilts and is made of wood planks.

The people are characterized by their heavy spirituality and body art. The main clothing for men is a loincloth and they are adorned with necklaces and flowers in their hair and ears. Women wear the same thing except they wear a piece of cloth wound around the waist. Women wear small sleeveless vests and they sharpen their teeth with a chisel for aesthetic reason to make their teeth look like a shark’s.

Traditional tattooing is done with a needle and a piece of wood.

Beside the Mentawai natives, there are locals who work at the Surf Camp. An indispensible mix of culture composed of hospitable local people and a few western people. Together we form a small family of BENG BENGS staff members.