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In Search of The Tattooed Face Ladies

22nd January 2020

In Myanmar's mountainous and hard-to-reach Chin State live ethnic minority women who are renowned for their remarkable face tattoos.

The Burmese government banned face tattooing in the 1960s. These women are the last of their generation to bear facial tattoos; when they die, it will be the end of another chapter in the Chin tribe's history. 

Entrance to the Chin Village

The path to the Chin tribe village was fascinating. I flew from Yangon to Sittwe on a domestic flight and then took a 3-hour bus ride to Mrauk U. The next day, I took a 2-hour boat ride up the Lemro River to Pan Paung Chin village. These tribal villages are all rich in cultural heritage and nestled along the shores of the Lemro River.

 

The Chin tribe women generally got their face tattooed at 12 to 16 before marriage. They used natural ingredients like pine sticks and inks made from the trees.

 

"I got my tattoos when I was about 10. It was so painful; my face hurt a lot. I still remember the pain I endured"

– Naw Ygai Pai, 78.

"My face was swollen for one week, but I didn't mind. My mother told me I would find a good husband with such tattoos. And in the end, I found three, Yet I was so scared when I did it."

- Yei pin 80

Beauty and culture through photography.

 

22nd February 2020

Pan Paung Chin village,

Myanmar

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