Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Chinese Tribal Tattoos

The Chinese tattoo doesn't have a very interesting history, but there are several ethnic minorities in China who do have a strong tattoo tradition. The most important ones are the Drung, Dai and Li tribes.

Drung Tattoos

The Drung are an ethnic group that live in the Yunnan province.
The woman of the Drung tribe used to tattoo their faces when they reached the age of 12, as a symbol of maturity. The tattoos were done between the eyebrows and around the mouth, resembling a butterfly or diamond design.
About 3 centuries ago, the women of the Drung tribe were often attacked by other ethnic groups and to avoid being raped, they used tattoos to make themselves less attractive. Some of these tribal tattoos resembled moustaches.
Of course, modern tattoo equipment was not available 300 years ago, thorns were used to puncture the skin and charcoal was used instead of tattoo ink.

Dai Tattoos

The Dai are also an ethnic minority living in southern Yunnan. Children as young as 5 were tattooed, and then again at the age of 14, as a symbol of sexual maturity.
Men were tattooed on strong muscles, woman between the eyebrows or on the hand or arm. Black tiger tattoos or dragon tattoos were the most popular designs.
The people of the Dai tribe used their tattoos as a talisman, to keep monsters away.

Li Tattoos

The Li are an ethnic group living in tribes on Hainan Island. Tattoos play an important role in the Li women's life (both sexes were tattooed, although it was more common for women) and their tattoo tradition can be traced back to 3000 years ago.
When girls reached the age of 12, they receive their first tattoos on the neck, face and throat. Over the next several years, the girl's arms and legs were tattooed as well. The tattoos meant that they were ready for marriage, they were a rite of passage


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