MENTAWAI ,In the house of the shaman
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It is late afternoon, the sun almost setting. Two men enter into the Uma carrying a small pig tied by rattan ropes to a bamboo pole, which they then rest on the floor.
Aman Lau Lau and his son Aman Telephone begin preparinging the pig by sprinkling its body with herbs, until it becomes yellow. They paint its face with a small brush, drawing black points. On its head they place a small diadem of beads strung with two red eucalyptus flowers.
The atmosphere is expectant and exciting, perhaps even a bit overwhelming. A cacophony of active children and yapping dogs. Some people have western clothes, but the majority are in traditional garb, the women with bared breasts.
A fire has been lit in the center of the Uma, and from above, attached to a wooden beam, dangles a myriad of monkey skulls that are brought to life by the light of the flames below.
A man sacrifices the pig cutting by its throat. Near him a couple of children watch with interest, in silence, concentrating in the event without disturbing the work of the adult.
The two shamans, Aman Lau Lau and Aman Telephone have started a ritual, they strike a gong in the adjacent room, moving frantically, pronouncing words incomprehensible to me. There is a pregnant woman sitting in a sort of a trance. The shaman walks towards her
holding a chicken between his arms. He sings a lullaby, repeating, like a mantra, the same sentence over and over. Suddenly, he stops and goes away. The woman seemingly relieved of a burden that had only a few moments before tormented her.
Meanwhile, other men are busy disemboweling the pig.The shamen approach , one of them Aman Lau lau , taking the organs of the animal outside to the porch of the Uma. Here the entrails and are festooned and the shamen begin again their mantra, talking with incredible speed. Lau Lau has the eyes of a prophet, bulging so wide as to be terrifying.
I forget my world, I am suddenly conscious and present in the moment. I find that I am documenting those moments in a rational manner, as if all of this was suddenly normal for me.
Later, writing this, I realize that in Uma of Aman Lau Lau time has stopped, and is nature, not technology that is guiding his tribe on their journey.
Mentawai, West Sumatra, Indonesia- 2016