The Mentawai Islands
Retna x Amanboroi
When Amanboroi emerged from his uma and took a long-sustained look at us, we knew we were in for an interesting experience. Here stood a Sikerei with a presence that felt as significant as his heritage.
Not long after his appearance, Amanboroi walked across his plot and into a stretch of what seemed to be thick untouched trees. As we watched him fade between the forest he turned and gestured for us to join. We stumbled behind as he fluidly made his way over fallen trees, under broken branches and through small streams. We were forced to focus on our footing while Amanboroi searched for the skin of a Baiko tree. Before we were stable, he shot up a hill as he spotted what we were after.
While he stripped the bark of the Baiko, we considered the possibility that this ancient custom may soon be forgotten without the work of the IEF. This thought didn’t last long as Amanboroi knocked it from our consciousness by sharply beating the bark while simultaneously soaking it in a stream. He rolled up the results of his labor and signaled we should return to his uma so it could dry under the Indonesian sun.
The canvas was now ready for Retna’s portion of the collaboration. But this canvas is not a canvas at all. It is a significant part of a Sikerei’s life as it is the same material as their only item of clothing.
‘If this project is genuine in supporting the revitalisation of our Mentawai culture and brings strength back to our people, we give you our deepest thanks and appreciation’ Mentawai elder, Sikerei.
‘Support raised via this project will enable the Mentawai foundation team to overcome obstacles including lack of funding to build cultural learning studios, purchase teaching and learning materials, empower additional Mentawai cultural teachers, and develop capacity for the students to take advantage of these skills and knowledge as a source for economic and program sustainability.’ IEF President, Rob Henry