Mentawai shaman and sago palm
By Lukas Pawera
The photo shows a ‘sikerei’, a traditional healer or shaman, processing sago palm (Metroxylon sagu), a staple food in the Mentawai Islands of western Indonesia. Growing wild in the forests or cultivated in agroforests, sago is still an important food source for the people. The sago palm, perceived as the ‘Tree of Life’, is also traditionally tattooed on the body. This inextricable link symbolizes an ancient biocultural relationship between man and sago, and indicates sustainable bioresource management.