Tattoo From a Filipino Grandma

Filipino motifs are a new trend in tattoo fashion. While some crazy people do colorful tattoos of Moscow, hundreds of other adventurers fly from all over the world into the wilderness of the Philippines. There in Kalinga province almost century-old woman Whang-Od tattoos newcomers in antique technique called baton.

Batak is one of the few remaining ways of homemade tattoo, known for thousands of years. In their work mambatok (tattoo artists) use a wooden stick with a sharp spike, which is dipped in the soot ink mixed of charcoal and water. The skin is stitched by hitting with a bamboo hammer over a hand-drawn pattern.


Earlier every village of Kalinga had its own mambatok. Tattoos with decorative motifs were popular among women of marriageable age, warriors drew centipede on their bodies, and soldiers, who were returning safe from fights, adorned themselves with images of eagles.

Centipede Warrior Tattoo
Centipede Warrior Tattoo

Today Filipino tattoo design mostly uses motives of nature and basic geometric shapes. Uniqueness of these tattoos has attracted the attention of journalists and tourists. Whang-Od, oldest tattoo artist in the world, got her own page on Facebook, and people, who wish to meet her line up in a queue of 50 people a day.

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