Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com

Tattoo Tribe

By Zoe Cassell

MAGNIFICENT photographs of the last members of a tattooed tribe give an insight into their daily lives on the isolated island they call home.

Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com
Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com

The Mentawai Tribe live a basic and traditional lifestyle away from the technology of the 21st Century. The photographs show the tribe hunting in vast tropical jungle and captured personal moments as a father handed down tribal traditions to his son.

Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com
Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com

These people are the last to use their tribal technique of hand-tapping to tattoo their bodies.

Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com
Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com

They inhabit Siberut Island in Indonesia and were intimately photographed by Henry Kurniawan (34) from Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, using a Canon 5D Mark III.

“The location was not the kind of place you can go to easily,” he said.

“We had to take a three-hour trip with a small ferry to Mentawai Island and then another one-hour trip to this secluded island.

“We were lucky to get the chance to take their photographs as they are the last generation from the Mentawai Tribe to keep their tradition.”

Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com
Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com

The tribe members are covered with decorative tattoos that are etched into their bodies using a method called ‘hand-tapping’ where an ink covered needle is pricked repeatedly into the skin.

Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com
Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com

In 2008 the Mentawai Tribe appeared in a BBC documentary which saw how this body art is applied.

Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com
Henry Kurniawan / mediadrumworld.com

Henry hopes his photographs give an insight into the tribe’s daily routine.

“There are a lot of people out there who still live traditionally without electricity and internet far away from the fancy things we are used to,” he said.

“I love this photography because it gives you a new kind of experience.

“Sometimes it’s great to experience living without these things. It makes you feel peaceful and you realise there are so many places that you don’t know.”

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