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Facial tattoos fading with time in SW China

11-24-2011 09:41 BJT

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It's a rare sight to see a facial tattoo. But you may be surprised that in China's southwest, there are 41 old women who have retained their facial tattoos once seen as a symbol of beauty. Let's head to Yunnan Province to check it out.

Facial tattooing is an unique tradition of the Derung ethnic minority. They live in the mountains of the Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province. Girls used to have their faces tattooed before marriage. But as time goes by, only 41 old women are left to testify about the now extinct practice.

Most of the tattoo women live on the Gaoligong Mountain, more than 2,000 meters above sea level. In order to make this cultural heritage live on longer, border police started to give a medical checkup to the old women with facial tattoos in 2006 and established archives for them.

Yan Xiulian, is one of four facial-tattoo women who are over 90. However, with the passing away of the last tattoo master, the facial tattoo has become a riddle that nobody can decipher.

Yan Xiulian said, "The tattoo is made by pricking the juice of alder tree mixed with ashes on the back of cooking pot."

In China's southwest, there are 41 old women who have retained their facial tattoos
once seen as a symbol of beauty.

There are several theories on why women have tattoos on their faces, but there is yet no definitive conclusion. Some people say it's to protect women from being snatched away by external clans and made slaves, while more people tend to think it as a way of beautification.

Yan Xiulian said, "One (reason) is for the purpose of looking good, and the other is that it's our custom."

As the custom says, all the Derung girls used to tattoo their faces before marriage. However, the old way of decoration is no longer practised.

Polls     (Total Votes:Loading
1.Do you have tattoos?
A. Yes
B. No
2.Are you willing to have a tattoo?
A. Yes, it’s cool
B. No, I can’t endure the pain
C. I want to have one, but my parents don’t allow me to
3.How do you look at people with tattoos?
A. They just did what they like
B. Only problem youth tattoo themselves
C. They are so cool
D. Others (you can comment here)

In China's southwest, there are 41 old women who have retained their facial tattoos
once seen as a symbol of beauty.

In China's southwest, there are 41 old women who have retained their facial tattoos
once seen as a symbol of beauty.

In China's southwest, there are 41 old women who have retained their facial tattoos
once seen as a symbol of beauty.

In China's southwest, there are 41 old women who have retained their facial tattoos
once seen as a symbol of beauty.

 

 


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