In Search of The Tattooed Face Ladies

22nd January 2020

In Myanmar’s mountainous and hard-to-reach Chin State, lives the ethnic minority women who are renowned for their remarkable face tattoos.

The Burmese government banned the practice of face tattooing during the 1960s. These women are the last of its generation to all 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 journey has been a long one. In Yangon, I had to take another domestic flight to Sittwe, then another 3-hour bus ride to Mrauk U. the next day a 2-hour boat ride up the Lemro river to Pan Paung Chin village. Many of these tribal villages are situated along the shores of the Lemro river.

 

The Chin tribe women generally got there face tattooed at the age of 12 to 16, and 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 had to endure”

– 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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Artist | Photographer | Traveller

Viran de Silva