The term “Tattoo” is taken from the word “Tatau” in the language of Tahiti. Tattoo was first recorded by Western civilization in James Cook’s expedition in 1769. According to some researchers, the oldest tattoos found on Egyptian mummies from the 20th century BC. But, the art of body painting found in almost all parts of the world with a variety of designs and patterns.

Tattoos Egypt, which estimated the oldest tattoo was discovered in 1300 BC. whereas the Mentawai been tattooing their bodies since their arrival to the west coast of Sumatra in the Age of Metal, 1500 BC – 500 BC. Proto-Malays nation came from mainland Asia (Indochina).

According to the researchers “tattoo” of Indonesia, Tattoo Mentawai is the oldest in the world known as Titi. For the Mentawai society, a tattoo is the spirit of life. One of the tattoo position is to show identity and difference in social status or profession. For example, Tattoos Sikerei (called healers for the Mentawai) different with tattoo hunter. Hunter known for his catch pictures of animals, like pigs, deer, monkeys, birds, or alligators. while Sikerei known from star tattoo “Sibalu-Balu” in those body.

Based on Mentawai tradition, tattoo also has a function as a symbol of natural balance. In the tradition of Mentawai people, objects such as rocks, animals, and plants should be enshrined in their body. They regard all things have souls. Another function of the tattoo is art, Mentawai people tattooing their bodies in accordance with his creativity.

The position of tattoo is governed by the trustworthiness Mentawai tribe, “it’s termed Arat Sabulungan”. The term is derived from the word “sa” (a collection), and “bulung” (leaves). A collection of leaves that are arranged in a circle made of palm or sago palm tops, which is believed to have magical power called “Kere” or “Ketse”. It’s used as a medium for the cult of “Tai Kabagat Koat” (God of Sea), “Tai Ka-leleu” (God of the forest and mountains), and “Tai Ka Manua” (God of the clouds).

“Arat Sabulungan” used in every ceremony, birth, marriage, medical, moving house, and tattoos. When boys enter puberty, the age of 11-12 years, parents called Sikerei and Rimata (tribal chief). They will negotiate to determine the day and month of implementation of the tattoo.

After that, selected “Sipatiti” (tattoo artist). Sipatiti isn’t based on the appointment of public office, such as shamans or chiefs, but the male professions. Expertise Sipatiti’s must be paid with a pig. Before the tattoo done, arranged first Ceremony led by Sikerei, in “Puturukat” (sipatiti’s gallery).

Body of boy who would tattoo was drawn with a stick. The sketch on the body was then stabbed with a wooden-handled needle. the body of boy slowly beaten with a wooden bat to insert dyes into the skin layer. Dyes used is a mixture of banana leaves and coconut shell charcoal (Source, Ady Rosa-The Tattoo researchers).