The Vanishing Art of the Atayal Facial Tattoos

Taiwan is populated by various tribes. Due to its wealthy history, the island has seen many cultural and religious adjustments which have affected vintage traditions, tattoo customs included. Taiwan’s customs are closely connected to Chinese, Japanese and Philippine traditions, since the island is surrounded by means of those territories and migrations are common practice.

The islands of Taiwan and Hainan have been eyes of China, guarding it from assaults for ages, until the quit of the Sino-Japanese warfare in 1895. Taiwan became then ceded to Japan and become restored to China after the WWII. During numerous phases of Taiwan’s history as a part of China, the aborigines regularly had conflicts with the Chinese people. This, and the truth that Taiwan was underneath Japanese rule, has had grave consequences with reference to aboriginal tattoo customs. Both China and Japan saw tattooing as a savage act. The two nations had customs to tattoo their criminals: the Chinese practiced “Ci Pei” (Tattoo Exile) – the custom of face tattooing, observed via exile of the crook. Japanese tattoos (“Irezumi”) were long related to the Yakuza (Gokudo), notorious members of criminal groups.

Moreover, the long-standing Chinese coverage that tattoos have been reserved for “minorities” had its consequences as nicely. As a result, many aboriginal tattoo customs are misplaced or vanishing at the island of Taiwan. Among the peoples to suffer the loss of identity are the Atayal, the second largest institution of Taiwanese aborigines (the largest one being the Paiwan). The Atayal populate northern areas of Taiwan and are (or instead – have been) extensively identified for his or her facial tattoos. They were nicknamed “the barbarians with tattooed faces.” As with all other indigenous cultures, the fundamental symbolism of facial tattoos changed into to differentiate the organization from other tribes, the concept that would later evolve into a extra profound philosophy.

In November 2008, the oldest tattooed Atayal girl (elderly 110) died in Taian, Taiwan. According to facts, with the dying of this woman, the variety of tattooed Atayal women in the Taiwan area shrank to 4 – the youngest is eighty five and the oldest – 91 years vintage.

The Tattoo Myth and Headhunters’ Tattoos

The tattoo way of life some of the Atayal is believed to originate from an vintage legend. The first man and female – brother and sister, who were born from a rock, lived together for a long term. The sister become concerned approximately duplicate of the human race. Therefore do tattoos make you go to hell she advised to her brother that they have to be married. The brother refused, citing incest. Then she instructed him that a woman, his destiny spouse, would be waiting for him the following day. He believed her and went to the appointed assembly. The next day, the sister disguised her face with black ashes and waited for her brother at the appointed region. The brother did not recognize her, and for this reason the human race changed into able to multiply. From that day, it changed into the custom that a female couldn’t marry before getting a facial tattoo.

As an extension to this tradition, single boys also wore tattoo markings. Both boys and women had tattooed foreheads. In order for a woman/lady to earn a cheek tattoo, she had to be an extraordinary weaver. The same held proper for tattoos on different frame components.

Probably the most thrilling component of the Atayal tattoos is that of the tribal “headhunters”. In reality, many Eastern tribes had that subculture, as did most of the tribes global (e.G. The Maori). The headhunter were given a tattoo to mark his achievement. Those who received 5 or more heads were given the proper to tattoo their chests. Others have been allowed tattoos on the torso, the brow and the chin.

Shamanesses and the Tattoo Process

When a toddler became of age for tattooing (5 to fifteen), his/her dad and mom could set up the date for the system to take region. They would invite a patasan (tattoo artist). All patasans had been women. The sacred artwork become passed from mom to daughter and now not every girl may want to do it.

Before the tattooing happened, the artist could ask the child if he/she changed into a virgin. If the kid lied, the patasan would curse the tattoo, which might later fester. The first phase of the tattooing changed into the equipment of patterns. Linen threads pressed into the charcoal ashes were used for drawing. Patasan would then use the hammer (adut) and iron needles to insert the colour. Charcoal ashes had been then applied to the wound. The recovery process could closing 1/2 a month. In order to prevent infections, the kid changed into forbidden to depart the house at some point of that period.

Japanese Rule and the Demise of Tattoos

As already referred to, Taiwan handed to Japanese rule in 1895. Due to the motives noted above, the Japanese forbid the Atayal to apply tattoos. Moreover, those wearing one have been pressured to cast off it. After the WWII, whilst Taiwan changed into ceded to China, no respectable ban happened, however Taiwanese tribes, the Atayal covered, had been leaving behind the way of life in their very own. Namely, Christianity had been introduced throughout the Japanese rule. By the Nineteen Fifties, the old animism-primarily based religion become in large part changed via Christianity. Thus the tattoos lost their symbolism, and the Atayal absolutely stopped tattooing themselves.

The Atayal Tattoos in Modern Times

The artwork is all but extinguished considering that all this is left of the antique customs is visible in elderly women alone. Nevertheless, there are some precise instances of young human beings wishing to restore the subculture. In 2008 (the identical 12 months while the oldest tattooed Atayal female died), 33-year-vintage Atayal lady Shayun Foudu and her husband discovered their tattoos to “Taipei Times.” This become the primary case of tattooing the various Atayal human beings in almost a century. “Facial tattooing is an antique cultural way of life of the Atayal tribe. I feel very proud to have a tattoo on my face,” Foudu told newshounds.

Foudu and her husband explained that, in keeping with the vintage tribal culture, a couple this is to be married ought to be tattooed beforehand. That act guarantees an everlasting and joyful marriage.