Symbolism Of Tattoos In The Philippines

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Register to read the introduction… The elders told him to go to the river and fish or to the forest to hunt. This preparatory rite for the actual igam is called lames ni wangwang. He returned to the village after his successful hunting, and, while on his way back to the village, he recounts that he sang the dinayan song, boasting of his success and bringing in the catch. During this initial stage of the ritual, the animals are said to be the substitutes for the head/s to be taken during the actual headtaking. Lakay Ollasic, who participated in the kayaw (headhunting), had his igam performed when he was 19-20 years old. He joined and participated in the killings in the anti-Japanese military movement in Lubuagan and Tanglag. The Kalinga harbored the Americans, and were feared guerilla warriors. A number of Kalinga proudly exhibit tattooed chests that they acquired because they had killed Japanese soldiers (Dozier 46). While returning home, the young Ollasic and his companions, undergoing igam, had to jump over an ardan (ladder) in the village entrance called the sipotan. The sipotan is like a point of passage and a boundary that separates the individual from the enemy world (separation). Ollasic explained that the symbolic jumping over the ladder is a physical expression of not leaving their soul or sanity in the outside (enemy’s) world. Therefore, crossing a threshold is symbolic of a reunion with or a reincorporation into the …show more content…
More importantly, it articulates ambaru, the Ilubo concept of beauty. Young men or women become ambaru (beautiful) when their bodies are tattooed. Tattoos make the males mangkusdor (handsome and strong) and the females, bumaru (beautiful). The bluish-black tattoo pattern against the brown skin incited fear among people of other villages, and make women attractive. The dinuras, or people without tattoos are regarded as weak beings, and considered as a bad omen for the community. The tattoos share geometric visual designs with the Ilubo baag (loincloth for men) and the kain (skirt for women). It will be observed that batek creates an illusion of an upper garment. The sinokray tattoo (Figure 14) of the women, translates to “the sleeves of the shirt” which is an extension of the women’s kain. The tattoos were considered as cheap and inexpensive garment as early as the 1920s (Vanoverbergh 1926). Many of the women recall that, during important occasions such as cañaos (feasts), their tattoos are their best “costumes.” The concept of ambaru is not confined to body tattoos, but also extends to concepts of craftsmanship in fanga (pottery), in arasag (shield design) and other forms of material culture where these tattoo designs are

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