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Tattoos of Southeast Asia

Featured Books

* Bloodfaces: Through the Lens: Chin Women of Myanmar
* Kalinga Tattoo: Ancient & Modern Expressions of the Tribal
* Filipino Tattoos Ancient to Modern
* Sacred Skin: Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos
* Sacred Tattoos of Thailand: Exploring the Magic, Masters and Mystery of Sak Yan

Bloodfaces: Through the Lens: Chin Women of Myanmar

Bloodfaces: Through the Lens: Chin Women of Myanmar
by Jens Uwe Parkitney
Flame of the Forest, Singapore, 2007

In his one-of-a-kind book, Bloodfaces, Jens Uwe Parkitny’s lenses draw us up close to the women from tribal groups such as the Laytu, and his camera unveils not only the variety of delicate tattoo patterns among various Chin groups, but also, more importantly, the innate strength and courage of these women who sat in pain, enduring the needlework, as blood and tears ran down their faces.

The book, a limited edition, is the first of its kind to portrait of what is left in contemporary Myanmar (Burma) of an ancient tribal practice which is vanishing fast but was once wide spread among indigenous ethnics in Asia. Though facial tattoos are still practiced by the Naga tribes in North East India, very little is known about the fact that until recently the Chin in Rakhine and Southern Chin State tattooed the faces of their young girls and women.

Official Website | Goodreads

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Kalinga Tattoo: Ancient & Modern Expressions of the Tribal

Kalinga Tattoo: Ancient & Modern Expressions of the Tribal
by Lars Krutak
Edition Reuss, 2010

KALINGA TATTOO: ANCIENT AND MODERN EXPRESSIONS OF THE TRIBAL is a photographic masterpiece that explores the vanishing art of Kalinga tribal tattooing in the remote mountains of the northern Philippines. Combining the visionary talents of numerous international photographers and the words and stories of nearly fifty Kalinga elders, Kalinga Tattoo is the first book to tell the story of this incredibly rich tradition of indigenous body art that is believed to be 1,000 years old.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Filipino Tattoos Ancient to Modern

Filipino Tattoos
by Lane Wilcken
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2010

Tattooing is a very old and spiritually respected art form that has existed in many different cultures around the world. After many centuries of not being practiced in Europe, tattooing was re-introduced to the Western world through the inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean. Beginnning in the 16th century, European explorers came across many people who practiced tattooing as an integral part of their cultures.This is the first serious study of Filipino tattoos, and it considers early accounts from explorers and Spanish-speaking writers. The text presents Filipino cultural practices connected with ancestral and spiritual aspects of tattoo markings, and how they relate to the process and tools used to make the marks. In the Philippine Islands, tatoos were applied to men and women for many different reasons. It became a form of clothing. Certain designs recognized manhood and personal accomplishments as well as attractiveness, fertility, and continuity of the family or village. Facial tattoos occurred on the bravest warriors with names that denoted particular honor.Through the fascinating text and over 200 images, including color photographs and design drawings, the deep meanings and importance of these markings becomes apparent.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Sacred Skin: Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos

Sacred Skin Thailand
by Tom Vater and Aroon Thaewchatturat
Visionary World Ltd, 2011

Sacred tattoos, called sak yant in Thailand, have been around Southeast Asia for centuries and afford protection from accident, misfortune, and crime. Young women get tattooed with love charms in order to attract better partners, while adolescent men use the protective power of their yants in fights with rival youth gangs. For most though, the tattoos serve as reminders to follow a moral code-endorsing positive behavior. At the time of the application of a sak yant, the tattoo master establishes a series of rules that his tattooed disciples will have to follow for the rest of their lives, usually starting with Buddhism’s first five precepts. Failure to observe the guru’s instructions will cause the sak yant to lose their power. Yet there is more to this than the written word. It goes deeper. This book serves as an introduction to the sak yant, Thailand’s spirit tattoos, and the men and women who make them come alive on their skin.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Sacred Tattoos of Thailand: Exploring the Magic, Masters and Mystery of Sak Yan

Sacred Tattoos of Thailand
by Joe Cummings and Dan White
Marshall Cavendish Corp/Ccb, 2011

Sacred Tattoos of Thailand: Explore the Magic, Masters and Mystery of Sak Yan is the first illustrated book in English to trace the history and origins of the Tai hand-inked tattoo tradition. While Thailand remains the centre of the cultural form’s conservation and development, similar traditions exist today in Cambodia, Laos and parts of Vietnam, China and Burma. The product of 18 months of field research and photography, Sacred Tattoos of Thailand brings the world of this fascinating and commonly misrepresented tradition to light. Rather than sensationalise sak yan and popularise the misconception that the tradition is the stuff of gangsters and bad boys, Sacred Tattoos of Thailand sheds light on the tradition s spiritual roots and how it combines into a single belief system elements of Buddhism, Brahmanism and animism, all of which are underpinned by a strict moral and ethical code that is passed from master to disciple.While masters range from monks to laymen, the sak yan people featured in the book come from all walks of life, from New York rock drummer Ming Roth, Singaporean deejay Chris X Ho and Thai actress Jan Yousagoon, to nightclub bouncers, wandering monks and an officer from the Department of Special Investigations.Joe Cummings expert text traces the development of the tradition in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. While sak yan is in decline in neighbouring countries, the narrative shows how Thailand remains the safe harbour of this vibrant cultural form which otherwise would be at risk of dying out.Beyond bringing the life stories of the various ajarns and their predecessors to light, the author explores the magic and symbolism of the various tattoo traditions, including primary research into the little known Lanna script from Northern Thailand. Visually, Dan White s reportage-style photography takes readers into the salas of the sak yan ajarns, shedding light on their daily lives, the preparations and rituals that give the tattoos their power, and the deep relationships that are formed between master and disciple. Rather than opting for posed artistic portraits the photographer has taken great effort to show the people and places featured in the book in their everyday lives, making them the story.