China records facial tattoos of tribal minority for preservation

A BBC news report on the Derung (Dalong) tribal minority in Yunnan province. The Derung women bear facial tattoos and only 41 elderly women bearing the ancient marks are said to be still alive in November 2011. Amazing resemblance to Dai Chin tattoos in the Western Myanmar!

Taiwan: Only a handful of tribal people with facial tattoos still alive

About 7 tribal elders with traditional facial tattoos are left acording to a Taiwanese news report. The youngest among them is 92 years old and the oldest 102. The Ayatal are among those enthinc minorities which had a culture of facial tattooing.

Ancient Geographic Travels & Tours

In case you are interested to travel in Myanmar on- or off-the-beaten track, please contact my wife, Swe Yi, at
After more than six years of working at an incoming travel agency, she eventually decided it's time to found her own business, a travel agency specialised in creating tailor-made tours and expeditions. Her company, Ancient Geographic Travels & Tours, is based in Yangon. For overland tours, for instance to Western Rakhine and Southern Chin State, two vintage Landrovers (Series III) in top shape are at disposal. For more info, click here.
The Munich Exhibition Catalogue

The Bavarian State Museum of Ethnology in collaboration with Hirmer Verlag, Munich, published a 50-page catalogue for the exhibition "Chin Women of Burma and their Facial Tattoos: A portrait'. (ISBN 978-3-927270-61-9). The limited edition publication features the exhibits as well as additional colour and black&white photography from Jens Uwe Parkitny's "Bloodfaces" collection of Fine Art Prints. It also contains context information on the Chin practise of facial tattooing as well as personal insights from the author and photographer into this fascinating cultural aspect which has never been the subject of any scholarly studies.

The catalogue can only be purchased at the Myanmar Book Center in Yangon (No 55, Baho Road) and on its website or directly at the Munich Musem of Ethnology and via mail order. 

For more info about the mail odering process please contact the museum at 

(Infos in Deutsch zum Bestellprozess finden Sie hier:

Laytu Chin Medical Tattoo

February 2011: On my last Chin exploration tour in Western Rakhine, I visited a fairly remote Laytu Chin village located on the banks of a Lemro tributary. Around twenty Laytu Chin women between their early 50s and 80s live in the village, all with facial tattoos. None of them wore traditional hand woven tunicas or any traditional earrings (drum shape, made of silver sheet) though.

One woman though had a very particular tattoo on her neck: a circle with a cross and four dots in each field. She explained that the shaman did the tattoo to safe her life as she feared that the goitre (or struma [medical]) which developed would kill her. Therefore, a circle was tattooed around the area concerned and the round field marked on the skin was then criss-crossed and dotted to symbolically and visually destroy the malady. So far, I have seen these type of tattoos on hands, forearms and the back but never on the neck or throat. Tatttoos for medical purposes and/or to protect from evil spirits seem to have been quite common.