The first semester of the year has not come to an end yet and I realized that studying my current unit is getting more challenging, interesting and exciting. This week, I get to expose to a broaden knowledge on the uniqueness of Borneo material culture.
I’m not going to disclose in details about my findings in this unit but one particular area that really interest me is about tattoos. 😉
My grandmother (from my mom side) is the last generation of my family to have tattoos. She got her tattoos when she was in her teen age; from her fingers to her elbows and also on her feet’s. Each design is unique and carries its own meaning. The motifs even showed your social stratification in the society.
In the old days among the Orang Ulu community, usually the ladies would get themselves tattooed and a complete body tattoo is from the feet to the thigh (for lower part of the body) and from the finger to the elbow (for the upper part of the body). It is a very painful process and time consuming too as in the old days, hand tapping method is used instead of the electrical tattoo gadget.
Apart from getting themselves tattooed, the ladies must also have long ear lobes of which it is also a painful process. Back then it was made ‘compulsory’ for an Orang Ulu lady to have long ear lobes and body tattoo.
No pain, no gain and I guess the saying still applies till today in order to look good and beautiful. Otherwise, new innovation such as plastic surgery will not exist today, right? ;p
Another interesting tattoo which I found in one of my reading is the hook tattoo (fishing hook). A man who had a hook tattoo on his leg indicates that he is a man with ‘palang’ and the purpose of the ‘palang’ is more for the woman pleasures.
Nowadays, the traditional tattoos culture are slowly dying and I feel that it is our responsibility as Borneon to preserve the culture. Don’t you think so? If yes, in your humble opinion, what, how, where and when should we start?
I would love to hear from you soon. 😉