Semiotics studies the Mentawai Tattoo Community

Tattoos or Titi in the Mentawai

Titi traditional fine arts for the Mentawai people have different roles according to the function and meaning which is reflected in the motifs, that is, as a symbol, a sign known, and ornaments. However, others say that tattoos are timeless clothing, body decoration, or as a turn childhood into adulthood.Humans can express their emotions overflow, among others, through gestures, singing, musical instruments and paintings. In terms of painting, body painting as a way that the result is called a tattoo. Tattoos use the skin as a means to convey expression. Tattoos as a form language with a wide range of meaningful and symbolic images found in the Mentawai Islands. In broad terms, tattooing is often referred to as body painting (Voices of Nature, 1990: 22).In relation to body painting, Rosa (1994: 87) divides luksian into three parts. First, body painting is not permanent, the painting depicted on the surface of the skin by using natural paints taken from mud or clay. The painting is called not permanent because if the ritual using natural paint finish, the graphics in the body can be removed or washed.Second, a permanent body painting. This painting includes a body made dikes skin surface, leaving wounds that are patterned according to belief, technical, and purpose of the ritual. Janis body painting is often found in Mawata, New Guinea, and some areas of Africa. Painting is another permanent body tattoo. In this style was patterned skin (tattoo design picture) with soot mixed with sugarcane juice tattooed with a needle so that mlintasinya dye reaction to injury that needle marks and coloring into one.Traditional tattoos are made by several ethnic tribes in the world in the same principle. They make use of tattoos as part of the ritual, symbols, badges and attractive ornaments filled with meaning to convey information about an individual's social status and identity of the tribe. Tattooing by Kalimantan traditional societies, especially the Dayak tribe is proof of the existence and identity is closely related to beliefs customs.


Semiotics derives from the Greek semesion (sign), semainon (signifier), and semainomeno (signified). Literally, the meaning of semiotics is the science of signs. Semiotics is the study of signs and everything related to it.The core of semiotics is the existence of human beings as homo semioticus. Zoest (1978) explains that people seek meaning in objects and phenomena surrounding it correctly or not, and it's true or not. Humans have always tried to give meaning to the object or phenomenon. So, between the object and the symptoms are a sign that has meaning. The meaning is the meaning that has been agreed upon (conventional). Relationships established through the medium of sign. Man to send and receive a mark in every act of communication.In summary, the development of semiotic preceded by a) the Stoici (Zeno) and experts in medieval Scholastics (Augustine, Wiliem van Ochman, and Duns Scotos) that explore issues related to the signs. b) German Philosophy J.H. Lambert at the end of the 18th century have used the word semiotics. c) general linguistic character Zwister Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 - 1913) need time to study the semiotic. He said the language should be studied as a system of signs, but sign language is not the only one. d) Charles Sanders Pierce (1839 - 1914) the first to systematically study the system of signs. Pierce semiotic although considered pioneers of new thoughts known about in the 1830s. In Europe semiotics developed by Max Bense and in America by Charles Morris.According to Pierce, semiotics synonymous with logic and we think only in signs. Pierce also saw the sign as an element of communication. Pierce believes that everything is a sign. Essential function of the mark is to create relationships that are inefficient to efficient. That is, the preparation of a rule or a system that can make any relationship work when needed. Tattoos with a diversity of motives is a system in pertandaan because tattoos have essential functions as a sign. It causes the tattoo easily communicated. Accordingly, Pierce in (Zoest, 1993) also say that we believe all things, but often times we really do not realize it. With the help of the notion presented by semiotics, we are more aware of what we and others believe. Habits in the belief underlying human thought and behavior. That is one reason for the existence of human endeavor in the field of semiotics.

Tipology og Sign 

Diversity patterns of traditional societies Mentawai is a collection of elements mark as a means of communication. It happened because they were not familiar with written language. Tattoos with different motives is the embodiment of a vehicle of communication called language arts. Way different language from the language of the word. He has the essential functions and relations menjadiakan efficient as a form of ethnic rule. Rules or the system can make a relationship work is needed.

Language words have a different word for each tribe even if the reference is the same word. What is interesting in this study is the creation of a language of words different words for the same reference, developments, and changes the meaning of the word. In this way the language is less interesting because descriptive images on each tribe is a simple display. Attractions visualized as is so easily recognizable and most likely the similarity motif.

Tattoos are a way that the language is rich with thought and feeling. Each motif tattoo has meaning passwords as a sign. The existence of sign is determined by three elements, namely a) signs which can be seen, b) something that is indicated by the sign, and c) other signs mark the recipient in mind. Between a) and b) there is a relationship, the nature of representation which is a characteristic sign.
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