Pantang a.k.a Tattoo

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pantang or Kelingai a.k.a Tattoo

Posted by purpLe.GirL at 7:58 PM

You heard the word tattoo before… and you know what is pantang in BM.. But here, pantang and tattoo are the same thing.. It is simply the tattoo, the body art. Pantang is what we Ibans called tattoo. Nowadays, among educated people, tattoo is always associated with something bad. But among we Ibans, tattoo is something we are proud of. At least for people who appreciate this body art.

A few facts regarding Borneo tattoo:

1. Among the tribes in Borneo, tattoing is mainly associated with headhunting (a visible sign of success) for men and the coming of age of women.

2. Nature is the main focus when designing a Borneo Traditional Tattooing such as leaves, animals, fruits, trees and branches.

3. This original traditional method of tattooing is a real pain. How it was done?
One stick is held onto the skin with the needle or sharp stick going into the skin and the other is used as a type of hammer, tapping ink into the skin. The thickness, durability and type of stick are varied to which the tattooist prefers.

4. Stretching of the skin is very important to the process. Like with the sticks each artist has their own preferred way of having the skin stretched. Stretching is different on each part of the body and the correct stretching reduces the time taken to do that tattoo, considerably. A good assistant doing the stretching can reduce the time a tattoo takes by half.

5. Tribal tattoo is what the West called tattoo from borneo.

6. Tattoos are like a diary.
The young man would go out on his own to find knowledge. As he travels he is marked by the tattoos that not only tell of where he came from but also where he has been. For each place the tattoos will have different styles and so the regional differences would tell of his journeys in life.

7. Many of the designs no longer exist.
In the 1950s and 1960s many people in Borneo converted to Christinity and a lot of the traditional tattooing stopped. The tattooing and designs almost died away. About 10 years ago there was a resurgence when a lot of journalists and researchers came and asked questions about the old ways. This caused a lot of the younger people to look back and now many of them are getting these traditional tattoos done again.

8. Now, at Sarawak, Kuching particularly, there are many tattoo studios.
The price of a tattoo depends on how big or hard your tattoo is. Might reach hundreds for one tattoo. One that i know is, for a ring tattoo, you can get it for Rm80 (if i’m not mistaken).
My dad has his tattoo done at his thigh and my brother has his at his arm. My uncle has one tattoo of his girlfriend’s name on his arm (not his wife now though…uhhuhh). Me? I don’t have any. I used to want to make one at my back, but after a lot of thinking – i stopped my intention. But now, quite interested to make one at my ankle…but maybe will never do…due some reason..hehe..

9. Something about bungai terung design.
The Bunga Terung (eggplant flower), marks the start of a journey called bejalai, the mark of a passage from boyhood into manhood. The Bunga Terung has a spiral at the center of the eggplant flower the Tali Nyawa, which means “the rope of life” and is identical to the underside of a tadpole which symbolizes the beginning of a new life. The bunga terung is supposed to guard the wearer from evil spirits. The bunga terung should always be done in pairs. They can be on the back, buttocks, shoulders and/or chest. NEVER, should they be done singularly. They are supposed to protect both sides of the body from evil.

10. About other tattoos… Some represent big life events, such as fathering children. For example, there is a tattoo a man can have done on his hand called the Entegulun. You can only have this if you have taken heads! Some tattoos can be for protection, for example the tattoos on the throat (Ukir Rekong) are meant to give strength to the skin on the throat, to stop enemies from being able to take your head.

Tattoo on hands usually for women…

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Labels: borneo, Iban, tattoo

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