|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Friday, May 25, 2018
|Indonesian tattooists revive tribal traditions|
In this photograph taken on December 5, 2015, a tattoo artist uses the traditional "hand tapping" method during a traditional tattoo festival in the village of Maguwoharjo located in Yogyakarta, Java's cultural heartland. The practice known as "hand-tapping" had almost faded out completely, as modernity overwhelmed Indonesia's tribes and younger generations eschewed their ancestors' ways, but tattoo artists have in recent years been driving a revival as more and more people seek to reconnect with the past. AFP PHOTO / SURYO WIBOWO.
By: Suryo Wibowo with Sam Reeves in Jakarta
MAGUWOHARJO (AFP).- Men in tribal dress stand amid dense jungle on the Indonesian island of Java, their bodies covered in elaborate, traditional tattoos inspired by cultures in distant corners of the vast, tropical archipelago.
Many images on display at the recent tattoo festival that brought the men together were not applied with fast, modern machines, but using a centuries-old, tribal method that involves artists gently tapping a stick mounted with a needle on a subject's skin.
The practice known as "hand-tapping" had almost faded out completely, as modernity overwhelmed Indonesia's tribes and younger generations eschewed their ancestors' ways, but tattoo artists have in recent years been driving a revival as more and more people seek to reconnect with the past.
"There is a growing trend now, there are more people who want to learn about traditional tattooing -- I am very happy about it," said Herpianto Hendra, a tattoo artist who uses the ancient method and is a member of Borneo's Dayak tribespeople.
"I am proud that my culture is being recognised."
The body art ranges from flowers inspired by Dayak tattoos that mark the coming of age, to narrow, black lines running across the body, like those of indigenous peoples from a remote scattering of islands in western Indonesia.
The festival earlier this month in Maguwoharjo village in Java's cultural heartland gathered people from across Indonesia and the world at the studio of celebrated Indonesian tattoo artist Durga, a leading figure in the revival.
Durga has championed tattoos from the western Mentawai islands, home to a semi-nomadic tribespeople famed for their body art and the practice of sharpening their teeth, which they believe makes them more beautiful.
Close links to nature
Mentawai tattoos, generally long lines looping over the shoulders and chest and more elaborate patterns on feet and hands, were long part of local culture and signified the tribespeople's close links to nature.
The other well known body art from Indonesia is found among the Dayaks, an array of semi-nomadic tribes who traditionally lived in the jungles and mountains of vast, biodiverse Borneo island shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
Their tattoos featured thick, black lines forming images inspired by nature, such as flowers, leaves and animals, that mark a person's journey through life. Before head-hunting was banned, Dayaks also received tattoos on their hands if they decapitated an enemy.
While not as well known, other indigenous groups also have tattooing traditions, such as those in the eastern Maluku Islands and the central island of Sumba.
But the tradition has been waning for decades, after Christian missionaries and the Indonesian government sought to discourage what they saw as outdated, tribal practices, and as younger tribespeople moved away from villages to rapidly growing cities in search of better jobs and education.
The revival has been driven by a small group of contemporary tattoo artists, some who have learnt "hand-tapping" methods from local tribes and have put a modern twist on ancient designs -- increasingly popular among the young and hip living in Indonesian cities and abroad.
Lars Krutak, an American tattoo anthropologist, said people are drawn to ancient Indonesian designs as they are "unique, beautiful and deeply spiritual".
"People living in big cities want to be rooted to something meaningful, especially if they plan to wear these tattoos on their bodies for the rest of their lives," said Krutak, who has written an entry on Durga for the "World Atlas of Tattoo", which features 100 tattoo artists.
'Defend traditional culture'
In the capital Jakarta, a small museum dedicated to indigenous body art has opened, housed in a ramshackle building filled with tribal paraphernalia and photos of tattooed indigenous people.
"Hand-tapping" regularly takes place at the museum, whose name "Bau Tanah" refers to the musty smell that emanates from the earth after heavy rains.
At a recent "hand-tapping" session, tattoo artist Ranu Khodir knelt down and applied the image of a dragon in Dayak style on the stomach of Saman, a motorbike taxi driver, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
An assistant stretched out Saman's skin, as he stayed stoically silent as the tattoo was applied.
Khodir, who is not from an indigenous group but looks every bit like the tribesmen whose work he reveres, with a wild mane of jet-black hair and motifs of stars and flowers covering his back, used to do machine tattooing but switched to "hand-tapping" a few years ago.
"I want to defend traditional Indonesian culture," he said.
There are downsides to the traditional methods -- it takes many more hours for a tattoo to be applied by "hand-tapping" than with a machine.
Still, the old methods have been adapted for the modern world, with tattoo artists nowadays using sterilised needles and a light anaesthetic to dull the pain. In the past in tribal areas, tattoos were applied with fish bones or long thorns.
Despite signs of a revival in some areas, experts warn that tattooing styles of tribes in more remote places could be forgotten.
"I fear this ancient traditional and artistic knowledge will soon be lost forever unless a concerted effort is made to record it immediately," said Krutak.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
January 6, 2016
Academy Art Museum first to exhibit Rauschenberg ROCI works together in Maryland
New information on the early life and work of Francis Bacon published in The Burlington Magazine
Christie's Americana Week 2016, a series of auctions, viewings and events, will be held from January 16-22
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers to offer the contents of the Kennedy Winter White House
Giant statue of China's Chairman Mao erected in countryside by a group of capitalists
Heritage Auctions posts strong 2015 results with $860 million year; Second best ever year
Saving at-risk art in Florence and Venice: Americans contribute to preserving universal cultural heritage
Exhibition features Life photographer Bill Eppridge photo chronicle of Beatles' 1964 US visit
Alexander and Bonin announce gallery relocation to 47 Walker Street in TriBeCa, summer 2016
Beloved characters abound in Swann Galleries' January 28 Sale of Illustration Art
Jim Kuhn appointed as associate director and Hobby Foundation Librarian at Harry Ransom Center
Exhibition at Argentic presents works by the great French names of humanist photography
Amon Carter Museum of American Art announces acquisition of 46 original photographs by Brett Weston
After New Year, Times Square goes to dogs
"How Many Miles to Babylon: Recent Painting from Los Angeles and New York" on view at C24 Gallery
Indonesian tattooists revive tribal traditions
Spink USA to offer medals, historical documents, uniforms and other artefacts
Phoenix Art Museum names Kirsten Peterson Johansen as new Deputy Director, Advancement
Shakespeare 400th anniversary marked with 'Wonder Season'
Old bottlings take centre stage at Bonhams's first whisky auction of the year
The Third Line announces the opening of its new gallery space in Dubai's Alserkal Avenue
Finest Known 1894-S Barber Dime leads Heritage FUN Platinum Night offerings
Shaker Museum names Lacy Schutz as new Executive Director
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- New Rembrandt found after being bought at London auction
2.- Exhibition at Fotohof focuses on groups in society who are at risk of marginalisation
3.- John Brennan collection of Rock n Roll memorabilia offered at RR Auction
4.- A Bob Dylan guitar fetches $495,000 at auction
5.- Exhibition in San Francisco focuses on the latter half of René Magritte's career
6.- 'Mad' king Ludwig II of Bavaria lost gift to composer Richard Wagner gets rare show
7.- New Royal Academy of Arts opens in celebration of its 250th anniversary
8.- Researchers uncover Anne Frank's 'dirty jokes'in her diary
9.- New York art sales near $3 billion in two weeks as uber-rich hunt trophies
10.- Berlin's Ethnological Museum returns grave-plundered artefacts to Alaska
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.