The Ancient Art of Hand Tapped Tattoos
The art of tattooing is kept alive by the women in the Kalinga tribe. Back then, the headhunters which are the men would come home after inter tribe disputes to be tattooed. To celebrate their victories, the women would tattoo the conquered tribe’s symbols on their arms in addition to the Kalinga symbols of their village. The Kalinga symbols usually symbolize animal patterns such as pythons and crabs while they also have nature motifs that signify lightning, trees, wheat, and more,
Who is Apo Whang Od?
Maria Oggay or Whang-od is the oldest mambabatok (tattoo artist) of the Kalinga tribe. She’s currently 103 years old and she still wakes up every day to tattoo people who come from all over the world to see her. She’s been tattooing for 80 years and is considered a National Artist in the Philippines. She’s passed on the act of tattooing to her granddaughters in the hopes that they’ll continue the lifelong tradition. Grace is one of her adversaries and she’s currently 24 years old and carrying the lifelong tradition until this day.
Purveyors of Multiple Art Forms
The Kalinga tribe of the Philippines isn’t only famous for their Kalinga tattooing but they also have many various art forms. The Kalinga people are also skilled in basketry and loom weaving where they make their own garments and scarves. They’re also skilled in metalsmithing and usually construct their iconic brass symbol “Ling o Ling” and adorn it on necklaces, it’s a symbol that represents fertility and is indigenous to their tribe. They also handcraft their own weapons and students from Tinglayan, a village in Kalinga have a course where they make their own traditional weapons. Not only is the Kalinga tribe rich in culture and history but they are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Upon setting foot in their land, they’ll welcome you with rich mountain coffee and the warmest smiles you’ll ever see. It’s definitely worth a visit to learn about the Kalinga tribe and to explore the diverse and lush rice terraces of Buscalan.