Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mentawai impressions: dancing

Rotek is preparing himself as lead dancer (photo above).

Dances are performed on the evening before our departure from Atabai to ensure that our trip will go well, and to take farewell of the sikerei who will accompany us. The sikerei have adorned themselves with a second loin cloth and the lead dancer is wearing a woven apron (from Sumatra, as weaving is unknown on Siberut). The first dance to be performed is a bird dance, the leaves the sikerei are wearing representing feathers. For the second dance, the sikerei ‘play’ chicks still clumsy at gathering food from the ground. The third dance involves larger and higher movements: the eagle dance. The mocked fight in the fourth dance is about two birds and one snake. In the funny last dance, the sikerei imitate monkeys.
Photo above: Bird dance in the uma under skulls of monkeys, deer and whatever has a skull. On the wall to the left are inprints of hands and feet signifying that a family member had died.
Photo above: Rotek in front of the skulls with his chiseled teeth.

Atabai, Siberut, West-Sumatra, January 2009.

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