Meet Whang-Od: The World’s Oldest Tattoo Artist

If there is one person who can represent the rich culture of Kalinga the best, it is none other than Whang Od. Kalinga is a province located in the far north of Philipines and Whang Od represents Kalinga like no one else. She is the oldest Filipino tribal tattoo artist. Many people say that she was the one who put Kalinga on the Philippine map of must-visit places for locals and foreigners alike. Meet Whang-Od: The World’s Oldest Tattoo Artist:

Her background:

 

Whang-Od is known widely as the last mambabatok(Kalinga tattooist) from the Butbut tribe in Buscalan, Kalinga. She has been tattooing for the past 80 years or so. This, of course, includes headhunters of the indigenous tribe.

These headhunters were the tribal warriors who protected their village. For them, it is a symbol of bravery and courage. She even inked the skin of the women of the tribe; those tattoos are considered a symbol of beauty and elegance.

She is living proof of the tribe’s Batok(hand-tapping) culture. Her body is covered with different tattoos that have a different meaning. Each of her hands, as she said, took a full day to be inked. After her full body had been covered with tattoos, her father as she says, rejoiced and killed a pig to celebrate this feat.

Tribal tattoo made by Whang-od

                                                         Tribal tattoo made by Whang-od

 

Whang-Od’s tattoo:

Whang-Od’s tribal tattoo ink is made from charcoal and water. Once mixed properly, it is tapped into the skin that uses a thorn of a citrus tree. The thorn then gets attached to a 12-inch long bamboo stick. From there on, Wahng-od starts to tap deep into the skin. She has some really simple designs to help you choose the design you like. The session can get a bit painful but that depends completely on your body’s tolerance.

It’s customary to bring some offerings to the host such as food, medicine, and matches which are essential for their day to day existence.

That is all from us about Whang-od. Hope you get to Meet Whang-Od: The World’s Oldest Tattoo Artist!

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Adeeb Imtiaz

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