Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mentawai impressions: tattoos

Tattoos are an extension of clothing. When tattooed, you are never naked whatever might happen to you. They are applied at different stages of life on different body parts. They now start being applied when young people are around 15, if at all. Chin and back come first, then hands, chest, thighs and buttocks.
The flower close to the shoulder bone means that evil should bounce off the body like raindrops from a flower (see above).

Tattoos are applied by a tattoo master who will be paid in kind for his work. The color mix is made of soot and lime juice. A blade of grass is used to apply the mixture on the skin. A small piece of wood with a nail at its top is then used to introduce the mixture into the skin where the nail has opened it.

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