The Culture of Hunting – West Sumatra, Indonesia

The Culture of Hunting is a series of portraits of the men who make up the hunting clubs organized in the towns and villages of West Sumatra, Indonesia. The men of the region raise dogs in order to hunt pigs in the mountains and rice terraces of the local farmers. The portraits were made in or near the city of Sawahlunto, a former Dutch colonial mining center high in the mountains, approximately 92 km from the capital, Padang. Many were made at clubhouses and on the streets; others were made at hunts in the countryside. In many countries hunting is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years and was often associated with ritual and spirituality. In John Knight’s Wildlife in Asia: Cultural Perspectives he states that, “In the pig hunt, the old rituals seem to have disappeared, together with the old hunters. Another factor in the disappearance of hunting rituals is perhaps that, under the influence of Islam, wild pigs are now considered vermin and therefore not worthy of spiritual protection.” Currently a culture of masculinity and social interaction between the villages and clubs has grown around the sport of pig hunting leading to a new culture and set of rituals that has replaced the “old rituals”. The hunt has not stopped, the men of West Sumatra still flock to the idea and tradition in large numbers. The portraits in The Culture of Hunting do not seek to display the brutality or blood of the hunt but look to examine the culture of masculinity that has evolved over decades as part of the new ritual that takes place almost every weekend in West Sumatra; the men get dressed up and put on their hats, they load up their dogs in trucks, cars, motorbikes and scooters, and they go hunting.