Tattooed women in Kachin state Myanmar


Up in the hill in the remote village of Mindat I got in touch with a disappearing tradition that goes back to the 12th century.
The women have the face covered in elaborate back patterns and in some cases, totally dark with ink. Those are some of Burma’s last surviving tattooed women.


According to legend this all began when an ancient king was going to Kachin state to choose the woman and make slaves. The inking was an intend to make the face look like a dirty repulsed for the comers, then with the time become symbol of beauty.

The young generations are increasingly reluctant to be inked for fear of ridicule and for fear of the heavy fines imposed by the ruling military junta; Burma’s tattooing tradition is on borrowed time and could disappear within a generation.

Up to 1960 when the government banded the practice the women had to follow the roles, with was having her face tattooed. A women comment that it was normal at that time every one had their face tattooed they face, but now those days are gone and we don’t want to have the young generation to have the tattoo made anymore..

Some woman recalled that she was 12 when they did the tattoo in her face, she was afraid and didn’t want to face the pain.. She was immobilised by her bother.

Their faces covered in elaborate black patterns and, in some cases, totally dark with ink, these smiling villagers are some of Burma’s last surviving tattooed women.

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