The extraordinary tattooed face women of Myanmar

Meet the extraordinary tattooed face women of Myanmar and the only woman in Mindat who plays the nose flute.
I visited Mindat and some tattooed face women villages in Chin State, Myanmar in March 2017.
The story of the tattooed women is fascinating and because this tradition is dying out, I was really looking forward to having a closer look into their lives.
The tattooed face women live in remotes villages in the Mindat area, Chin State, Myanmar.
They live in bamboo houses decorated with skulls of pigs, cows and buffaloes; wear traditional and colourful Chin clothes; and most of them are farmers.
Even though the government banned the practice in 1960, you can still find tattooed face women younger than 50 years old. However, in a few years the tattooed women of Myanmar may well be only a legend.

The origin of the tattoos is uncertain but there are various legends as to why the women started tattooing their faces:
1. The tattoo was a disguise to prevent the Burmese King from wanting to steal the Chin women.
2. They believe it made the local women look ugly and it would prevent the British colonists from assaulting them;
3. There was a rich man who wanted to marry a tattooed face woman so they started having the tattoos;
4. They believed that only tattooed women would to go to heaven and the ones without tattoos to hell;
5. They thought it made them look beautiful;
6. Tradition.

I talked to some of those tattooed face women and was intrigued to learn their personal stories and I was also surprised to see how hard they work.
In the end I met Yaw Shen, a 90 year old tattooed face lady who plays the nose flute. In fact, Yan Shen is the only nose flute player in Mindat.

I’m very glad that I saw those women before they disappear and met Yaw Shen, who is a “celebrity” in Mindat.

Watch Video: The Extraordinary Tattooed Face Women of Myanmar


If you to know about the tattooed face women, check my post: Visiting Tattooed Face Women Villages, Mindat-Myanmar.

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