Mentawai Miscommunication

While on location last year in the Mentawais we decided to take advantage of a flat day and trek into the jungle to photograph the indigenous Mentawai people. Although these people have had plenty of contact with the outside world for years, they still manage to live a fairly unchanged life: bamboo huts in the jungle, livestock roaming underfoot, no roads, no electricity, no fancy possesions, a simple life in the jungle. A big part of their culture is the intricate tattooing that both the men and women have covering their bodies. When we met the woman pictured I immediately noticed and wanted to photograph her hands: worn and hardened from years of living and working in the jungle, and completely tattooed. I tried to ask her, in a serious of gestures and words lost in translation, if I could shoot her hands. Her face lit up in agreement as she stepped back, and simply removed her top waiting to be photographed. Apparently hands and boobs are easily mistaken in Indonesian. After a brief moment of shock I began shooting, and with the help of our guide, got the photo of her HANDS that I was after.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *