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OUCH!: Indigenous Mentawai Tattoos

Just off the coast of Indonesia's West Sumatra providence, lives one of the oldest indigenous tribes- the Mentawai peoples. Researchers believe the ingenious group has occupied the coastal islands since 500 B.C.

The Mentawai have such an amazing culture, their tattooing practice being on of the most fascinating.They have their own religion, language with different dialects, and survive by hunting and gathering.

According to http://culturalanthropology.wetpaint.com/page/Mentawai, the Mentawai people tattoo their bodies frequently due to a legend that tells of a boy who turned himself into the first sago tree, and then turning into the tree of life. The people pay homage by being covered in tattoos to emulate the tree's form.

Ok,so why does the title say OUCH!? Well they use a tattooing technique called "Hand tapping". The pain caused by "Hand tapping" is very great painful, intense, and time-consuming.

The website http://www.durgatattoo.com/ing/index.php?do=intro has a very detailed description of the "Hand tapping" process.

How "Hand tapping" Works

  • It requires a solid team work during the making of hand tapping tattoo. The tattooist would control a shorter wood stick which has a sterile need at the end in order to penetrate the ink into the dermis, which is the second layer of skin under the epidermis. The second stick will then be tapped manually, together with an assistant, called ‘skin stretcher’ who is responsible to stretch the client’s skin so it is solidly spread.

  • The process demands a high level of patience, concentration and accuracy from both the tattooist and skin stretcher. The high adrenaline level exerted during this process, caused exhaustion the tattooist and skin stretcher which can last for 2-3 days afterwards.

The end result of these tattoos are unique and beautiful, but takes a great amount of desire and will to accomplish.

Would you get one?

#handtapping #metawai #IndigenousPeople #tribes