Burmese Tattoos (Part 5)

Rich ethnic diversity of Burma. This is the Part 5 of Burmese Tattoos article by Guest Author

[Important Read: Tattoo Risks, Right Precaution & How to Remove Tattoo]

That the majority of the Burmese is tattooed does not mean that their tattoos are typical ‘Burmese-style tattoos’. The culture of the Bamar/Burman after which the country is named because they are the largest ethnic group here was not a tattooing culture when the Bamar arrived in present-day Burma but they adopted the art of tattooing from the already existing people and their cultures. That is to say, they had no own tattoos when they arrived and have not developed own distinctively Bamar/Burman tattoo styles and designs afterwards. And there is also no Burmese race i.e. a people of same stock with a common culture that could rightfully be called ‘Burmese culture’.

Burma is a country with a rich ethnic diversity and almost as of these ethnic minorities have their own tattoo designs to differentiate themselves from other tribes. This kind of tattoo are tribal tattoos and of these there many in Burma, but they are not ‘Burmese tattoos’. In Burma, you have also a large number of Buddhist tattoos, animistic tattoos and a mixture thereof, but then again, these are not typical ‘Burmese-style tattoos’. Not enough examples? OK, here is one more. You also see a lot of ‘healing tattoos’ in Burma but they too are not uniquely Burmese because that kind of tattoos is like in any other tattooing culture using a combination of dots, strokes and lines on and within the system of acupuncture points. Again, there is nothing in the way of a ‘specifically Burmese design’.

You will have no problem to identify e.g. a Chinese tattoo as being Chinese and Japanese tattoo as being Japanese the instant you see them because of their highly distinctive designs and patterns but this is not so with so-called ‘Burmese tattoos’ because the Buddhist designs and pattern they are using are identical with those used in other Buddhist countries of southeast Asia and the Animist designs and patterns they are using are not perceivably different from those used in the neighbouring Buddhist countries and cultures of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Thus the ‘Burmese’ Buddhist tattoo is not bearing any distinctive mark not even in case script is part of the tattoo because the text will be in Pali.

Burma Ethnic Diversity [Flickr Photo by Drewes Zuur]
Burma Ethnic Diversity [Flickr Photo by Drewes Zuur]
However, there are highly interesting and decorative tattoo designs and pattern such as facial tattoos of the Chin tribes and pants tattoos of the Shan for which – although they too are not uniquely Burmese – Burma is still famous for. The facial tattoos are not made anymore because they are since 1962 forbidden by law and the pants tattoo lost its original function and became, ‘outdated’.

Although the facial tattoos are banned the Chin tribes kept on practising their face tattooing tradition till the end of the 1990s and there are rumours that the law banning the facial tattoos is in remote rural areas still not always abided by. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the tradition of both facial and pants tattoos are on the brink of extinction. For this reason are the in their majority older members of Chin and Shan communities who are still proudly wearing these tattoos and are often living in remote villages in Arakan State (facial tattoos), Chin State (facial tattoos) and Shan State (pants tattoos) highly sought after as the last living pants and face tattooed generation by professional photographer, anthropologists, ethnologists and tourists.  [End of Part 5, continued in Part 6]

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For more information visit my website http://www.realburmabyburman.com and my Mark Burman YouTube channel  http://www.youtube.com/user/BurmaByMarkBurman.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Markus_Burman/2114042

Guest Author, MarkusGuest Author @ TangyTalk: I am Markus Burman and am living since more than 25 years in Burma, since 1989 called Myanmar. I know the country, its people, culture and history very well what makes an authority on the subject of Burma/Myanmar. Born, educated and trained in Germany I have spent more than half of my professional life outside Germany. In 2012 I retired and turned full-time writer. Since then I divide my time between my family (wife, daughter, son in law and grandson) and my work as writer, which includes quite some travelling, researching and, yes, lots of writing.

I am writing exclusively on Burma and in my book series ‘This Is the Real Burma’ I have so far written and published four books in eBook format available on Amazon.

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