chin facial tattoos—
Muun, Daai and Makaan tribeswomen are easily spotted in Mindat and the villages around it. Muun women display a distinctive P-shaped pattern on their cheeks and a Y symbol on their foreheads that mirrors an animist totem carved and planted in their villages. Faithful to their animist traditions, the Muun must celebrate at least one week-long sacrificial ceremony during their lifetimes in order to appease the spirits and secure their place in the afterlife. During that week, they will successively sacrifice a chicken, a goat, a pig, a buffalo and a wild buffalo captured from the wild. They will invite the shaman and fellow villagers to feast on the meat and will collect flat stones from the riverbed to build their own “House of Spirits” at the edge of the village. If this ritual is repeated in the course of any one villager’s lifetime, the observer gains the privilege of building his House of Spirits next to his home.
Though strongly committed to animism, most Muun are simultaneously Christian. One of the more jarring examples of how this mixed religious tradition manifests itself is in the burial practices of the Muun. After the deceased is buried in accordance with Christian tradition, his body will the next day be dug up by friends and cremated, with the bones and ashes laid to rest under the stone stool of his or her House of Spirits. Chin State is perhaps the only place in the world where the cemeteries are empty.
Makaan tribeswomen sport a spotted tattoo pattern forming lines on their forehead and chin while Daai women display a face covered with dots that are mixed with vertical and horizontal lines on the forehead and cheeks.
Ngagah, Daai, Muun, Yin Duu Daai and Uppriu tribes all live in the villages surrounding Kanpetlet.
Yin Duu Daai tattoos consist of vertical lines, including on their eyelids, Uppriu women’s faces are completely covered with dark ink, and Ngagah tattoos are a mix of vertical lines and dots.
Local lore has it that that these tribes first began to ink their faces as a way of disfiguring their beauty and, in doing so, avoid being kidnapped by the Burman king. A second legend states that they were tattooed distinctively to allow for identification with their tribe of origin in the event that they were kidnapped by another tribe. The latter seems more plausible, as the king of Burma made just a single visit to this region, centuries ago. In any case, these women have bravely withstood several hours-long sessions of pain under a citrus thorn used to imbed the ink into their skin.
if you want to reblog this woman’s portrait, don’t just leave it. her facial tattoos aren’t just an aesthetic to grace your stupid tumblr, rootless and unattached. they have a history, a purpose, an entire people with hundreds (if not thousands) of years of tradition behind it. we’re not some kind of historical artifact, some quaint reference image, sitting in your flickr account backlog for your next tribal-inspired henna piece. these women are still alive, still practice this, are still struggling to practice this in the face of a government determined to wipe them clean off the map.
i hate that anytime i look through tumblr for pictures of a burmese woman, all i find are padaung women’s neck rings, thanaka and the occasional chin woman with tribal tattoos. and sometimes i’ll find that stupid shepard fairey portrait of aung san suu kyi (fuck you shepard fairey).
also, i have to say, i feel really uneasy with the fact that the tags on this post were just “burmese face tattoo, burmese, burma, tattoo, beauty” because (1) chin tribal people are on the burman government’s shit list and are essentially a stateless people and (2) really? i’m just still mad that you didn’t do any research about who this woman was and why she looks like this. and truthfully, of the 5-6 people who reblogged this before me, of the 5-6 other people who liked this post before me, how many of them knew what they were looking at really?
like, seriously, not-your-asian-fantasy?? yes, i’m calling this
probably now-defunct (nah, you reblogged this like last month) blog out. you just reblogged this without any context. tell me that’s not aiding and abetting exotification. i expected more.
i know, what a waste of time to be so upset about this. it’ll pass. but on the off-chance someone’s reading this. do yourself, do me a favor, read a bit more.