Indonesia: The Life Of The Mentawai Tribe Famous For Their Semi-Nomadic Way Of Life

These stunning images document the everyday lives of the men, women, and children of the Mentawai tribe.

[This article was written for Barcroft Media and published in The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Metro, The Express, The Sun, and The Mirror]

The Mentawai people, a native population in Indonesia, are famous for their decorative tattoos and for living a semi-nomadic life on the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra.

Shot by professional photographer Mohammed Saleh Bin Dollah, the series captures a glimpse of life on the island as the Mentawai men smoke and hunt for food and the children play in the river.

The 42-year-old photographer from Kelantan, Malaysia, visited the tribe to document their way of life.

He said: “They all live completely in land and secluded from the modern world.

“The women walk around with no clothes on and their lives depend entirely on natural resources. I wanted to go to the island to showcase the everyday lives of the tribe.”

The tribe consists of around 64,000 people, living in homes which are known as Umas and built using bamboo, wood, and grass and are furnished with the skulls of hunted prey.

The Mentawaian’s social life is centred around their groups and a communal longhouse. The clans vary in size between 30 to 80 members.

It is claimed that the tribe members believe that all living objects including plants are supposed to have spirits.

The only specialist in the community is the medicine man that is responsible for communication with the spirits and the souls – in case of misfortune or illness, he is called in to restore harmony within the group.

Professional snapper Mohammed was fortunate enough to spend some time with the Mentawai Warriors during the month of July 2014.

“I was very lucky to receive the opportunity to take these photos when I was helping out a friend who actually one lived with the Mentawai people for a period of time,” he said.

“Most of the men in the tribe are regarded as heroes, everyone on the island is very happy.

“They love it when people from the outside world come to visit because they like to show their way of living and their island.”

To view the full set of images, visit:

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KeiKei is a London-based award-winning journalist and videographer with a degree in Broadcast Media and Journalism from the University of the West of Scotland and an extensive reporting background in news, entertainment, travel, and lifestyle.

KeiKei has travelled the globe interviewing, reporting and reviewing. Her work has been published in worldwide media outlets including, The New York Post, The Guardian, The Mirror, The Daily Mail, National Geographic and Conde Nast publications.


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