Glossary of Terms
Alei: “friend, acquaintance; ‘brother/cousin’, relative”.
Alei Katsaila: the name I have given to the ancestral heirlooms—lit: ‘friends of the (bakkat) katsaila’.
Arat: the local version of the Indonesian word adat.
Bajou: “negative powerful emanations”. Inherently negative—see gaud.
Bakkat: “base, foundation, ‘source’”.
Bakkat katsaila: Pre-eminent ancestral object and major repository of gaud.
Bakkatnariggi: see uggala siririok uma.
Barasi: “Dusun”, “village”. The term Dusun is not used in daily parlance. When people talk about and refer to Madobag as a Dusun, they use barasi. From the Minangkabau word meaning “clean; clear”. That is, the Dusun is a place clear of forest (and mud).
Bat: a “space”.
Batnuma: an uma’s inner sanctum.
Bolobok: a large bucket-sized, bucket shaped container; the bamboo container component of the bakkat katsaila.
Buluad: a synonym for the bakkat katsaila; an assemblage of gaud leaves.
Dauk: an assemblage of gaud placed inside a small bamboo cylinder analogous to the bakkat katsaila, containing water or doused in water. This water is then splashed on the object of the gaud.
Desa: an administrative unit area composed of several Dusun.
Dusun: “hamlet”/”village”. Physical unit of residence.
Gare: access gangway leading to the laibok of the uma. These are often located along the sides of the larger uma, and at the rear of most uma.
Gajeuma: hand-held drum used in a puliaijat. A category of the ancestral heirlooms.
Gaud: “power”. Specifically contained in (a) selected species of plant (b) the bakkat katsaila (c) selected objects. Inherently positive—see bajou.
Gaud sikataik: varieties of gaud specifically for expelling sanitu (ghosts) through excising their bajou.
Gaud simaeruk: applied after gaud sikataik, that is after a sanitu and its bajou have been expelled, in order to encourage the return of the life-essence (simagere) of the person or the group on whose behalf it is applied.
Iba leleu: “forest meat”.
Ibadnakek: to “make peace”. See ‘paabad’.
Kabupaten: higher order administrative unit composed of a number of Kecamatan.
Kecamatan: administrative unit composed of several Desa. Several Kecamatan go to make up a Kabupaten.
Ketsat: ‘spiritual’ entity.
Kina: honorific prefix used when addressing an object in a ritual context. Hence ‘kina uma’.
Kotnuma: the area, including the batnuma (uma’s inner sanctum), extending into the space immediately behind the uma.
Laibok/Pukalaibok: the space at the entrance of the uma. In most, this extends to the entrance to the batnuma (uma’s inner sanctum). In the larger uma, this abuts the tengannma/laiboktengah which mediates the laibok and batnuma.
Lakuk: a bowl made from a coconut shell; one of the ancestral heirlooms.
Lelebak: a bottle in which is stored a ‘powerful’ (gaud) solution consisting largely of coconut oil.
Leoruk: ka leoruk—downriver.
Lalep: (1) “hut”, “house” (as opp. House ie. Uma[sabeu]) on the Pagai islands and Sipora. (2) In Madobag it refers the persons sharing common residence in a sapou, hence “household” (sanga lalep).
Laperat: see uturukat.
Lauru: clear membrane of a chicken’s intestines, the focus of divinatory practices in a puliaijat or pabete.
Lulag: elongated wooden platter. A category of the ancestral heirlooms.
Mangeak: a length of bamboo split in half lengthwise utilized for flooring in uma.
Mata: “area”. eg. sanga mata sagu—”one ‘area’ of sago (trees)”, ie. a collectivity of sago trees in close proximity.
Mone: “garden”, “plantation” where fruit trees (durian, mango) as well as bananas and cassava are planted in the style of a swidden.
Monen: see mone.
Murimanua: to “live”. See simagere.
Ogbuk: a bamboo cylinder in which meat and taro are cooked.
Orat: log resting on the lip of the gare leading to the ground allowing access to the uma.
Paabad: a relationship of ‘peace’ instituted between two suku that were in a state of mutual hostilities, and perpetuated across the generations.
Paakok: a state of overt rivalry between two suku characterized by mutual derision and activities (eg. hunting) in which each attempts to upstage the other.
Pabete: a healing event.
Pamuri: the rimata’s partner in the puiringan events in a puliaijat.
Parakrak: The verb form of the noun rakrak—see rakrak.
Paroman: “help”—refers to the items exchanged in an exchange context.
Pasaguat: a platform erected over water where sago processing takes place.
Porak: the land, or a section of land on a suku’s pulagajat.
Puiringan: the core events constituting the puliaijat—aggaret, irik, pusikebbukat, kokoman sikebbukat.
Pukalaibok: see laibok.
Pulaggajat: a defined tract of land belonging to a suku, connoting “community”.
Puliaijat: The pre-eminent ritual event. Significant events are all ‘iliaakek’ in a puliaijat. This is the context in which the ancestral heirlooms come to be used, handled, and addressed.
Purimanua: “life. See simagere.
Punen: ritual ceremony on Sipora and the Pagai islands. Its analogue on Siberut is the puliaijat.
Rakrak: a relationship between two or more suku sharing a common ancestor—see parakrak.
Region: a ‘bundle’ of practices ‘binding’ time-space.
Rereiket: The area encapsulated by the valley through which the Rereiket river flows including its tributaries. On the map this includes the Dusun of Sameme, Rokdok, Madobag, Ugai and Matotonan.
Rimata: “owner/holder” of the bakkat katsaila, and thus the most important personage in a puliaijat.
Rusuk: the institution which existed, up to the early part of the twentieth century on the Pagai islands where a man and woman would live together in a dwelling, also called rusuk, and have children together, prior to official marriage, in which case they would constitute, and therefore occupy, a lalep (sapou on Siberut).
Sabulungan: (1) the ‘Mentawaian’ indigenous ‘religion’ as this is glossed by non-indigenous commentators and government authorities. (2) saukkui (ancestors) as a variety of sanitu.
Saki: “buy”, “purchase”.
Sanitu: “entity of death”. This includes the “ancestors”, saukkui, who are, however, of ambiguous status and present at all times during a puliaijat unlike other varieties of sanitu, the silakokoina or the tinigeilat, for example, which are unambiguously conduits of death and thereby to be kept as far away as possible from the living at all times.
Salalaggai: A person belonging to another suku/pulagajat.
Sapou: “house” occupied by sanga lalep—see lalep above.
(Sa)Sareu: “stranger”, “foreigner”.
Sauksauk: doors, in the larger uma, attached to a beam above the boundary to the laibok and the tenganuma, which can close off the tenganuma from the laibok.
Sikaciu: “left”. Negative connotations.
Sikataik: “negative”, “bad”, “evil”, “rotten”.
Sikatoiet: “right”. Positive connotations.
Simaeruk: “positive”, “good”, “beneficial”.
Simagere: “spirit”, “soul” or the “life essence” endowing human beings (sirimanua:”that which lives”) with “life” (purimanua). Every sirimanua has a simagere without which he or she would cease to “live” (murimanua) and so become a sanitu.
Simateu: “man”; “boy”.
Simoitek: the tree species Aqualaria malaccensis. When infected with a certain type of fungus, it yields a dark compound used to produce incense in Sumatra and the Middle East.
Sinanalep: girl, woman.
Singamngam: “shaman”/”healer”. Mainly women.
Sinuruk: where a person of one suku calls on a person of another, upon the basis of personal friendship, to enlist that person’s help on a task such as building an uma, or holding a puliaijat and so forth.
Sirubeiteteu: (1) ‘sib’. (2) “the division/diaspora of the ancestors”.
Sisip: “ladle”. The companion to the lakuk.
Subbet: ‘dumpling’ made from mashed taro and covered in desiccated coconut, prepared and eaten within the context of a puliaijat.
Suku: main social unit whose members share (a) the one ancestor (b) a particular name indicated as ‘my suku is x’. The name comes to be used only when a person has official dealings with the government in some capacity. Thus someone called ‘Anton’ of the suku Sakukuret would in such a situation call himself ‘Anton Sakukuret’.
Tairosi: small 11/2-2cm diameter bell.
Tappri: an approximately ten litre capacity container made from sago leaves within which is stored the processed sediment rinsed from sago pith at the pasaguat.
Tudukat: “drum”. Much larger than the hand-held drums (gajeuma), these number amongst the heirlooms, and similar to the gajeuma, come in sets of three. They are usually stored above the laibok or the tenganuma.
Tenganuma: the space, in the larger uma, mediating the laibok and the batnuma (uma’s inner sanctum).
Tilei: widely used expletive by young and old; refers to a woman’s sex organs.
Tulou: “compensation” paid in settlement of a violation of paroman relations between individuals, between an individual and a suku, or between suku.
Uggala: uma pile.
Ulu: “upriver”. Occurs together with ka (to) in the compound ka ulu.
Uma faction: a collectivity of people focused on, and therefore sharing common relationship to a particular horde of ancestral heirlooms stored in an uma, where there is more than one uma within a suku.
Uma: House. Contains the ancestral heirlooms.
Uturukat: a 2m x 2m area located just outside the batnuma where ritual ‘dancing’ takes place in a puliaijat context.