TALISMAN TATTOO DESIGNS
folding parabaik, 12 black leaves and 2 cover leaves, drawn on both sides with 24 symbols in silvered ink, on paper made from the bark of the Mulberry Paper Tree [Broussonetia Papyrefera], 37 ins x 5.25 ins fully extended,
The art of tattoo in South East Asia, especially in Burma, encompasses ritual as well as decoration. Acquiring tattoos at the Buddhist Temple would ensure the owner of protection, a permanent talisman, or give the warrior further courage in battle, as well as be a culturally decorative adornment. It can also represent a rite of passage from boyhood to man. This example from the Shan people of eastern Burma, was used by a skilled monk or master Sala as a reference for tattoo designs and auspicious dates.
With many of the men moving to find work in cities and where they now get their tattoos, influenced by movie stars and footballers, the use and meaning of traditional designs is being eroded. As the rural demand weakens, these manuscripts remain the last vestiges of an ancient culture. See Susan Conway Tai Magic, River Books, 2014
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