Hand Tapping

Traditional Tattoo Hand Tapping in Bali

The traditional tattoo hand tapping Bali is one of the traditional tattooing methods that is known in Indonesia or maybe in the world. Actually it is a method for tattooing that originally comes from Borneo and Mentawai Island. This tattoo style is so unique, especially for the design. It is created by using the wooden tapping stick with a tattoo needle at the end of that wooden stick. To create the design, another wooden stick will be used to tap or hit that wooden stick with a needle device. The tattoo artist will be not worked alone on this process, but he is helped by an assistant that is known as the ‘skin stretcher’. This assistant will stretch the skin to create the maximum result of the tattoo. 

During this tattooing process, the tattoo artist will not use even a single electric tattoo machine. We can say that is manual tattooing where the sound of the wooden stick creates a rhythm which is sounded like a meditation purpose. This meditation sound is like a medicine to reduce the pain during tattooing. Because the traditional tattoo hand tapping in Bali is done without the electrical machine, the process is longer than the usual tattoo. 

The Tools Used for the Hand Tapping Tattoo

Even though this traditional tattoo method doesn’t use any electrical machine, it is still using some tools to apply the pattern or design of a tattoo. This old method will mark your skin with sticks that can be made from the bamboo, animal bones, the needle, and for sure the natural dyes. So, the tattoo artist will tap that stick repeatedly for depositing the ink into your skin. The interesting thing is that some of the people said that this method is more painful than the machine-operated method. 

In Bali, you can still get the method of this tattoo method. It can be a really different experience for trying this traditional tattoo hand tapping in Bali. Well, if you want to try this one, it is for sure that you need to decide the design. Whatever it is, below are some popular designs that are usually used for the hand-tapping tattoo inspiration.


Maybe it is one of the most interesting hand tapping tattoo designs in this world. This tattoo will be used by the women in the past where they call it the ‘vulva’ and ‘buttock’ tattooing. A fact said that this tattoo can even be redone every time the women give birth. In the past, the local people believe that this tattoo is useful for keeping the abdomen tight, for beautification purposes, and for sure they want to imitate everything that they see around. However, the representation of this tattoo could be varied based on the area of the tattoo. An example is like a tattoo placed on someone’s face. It will strongly indicate that someone has a high rank in society. In addition, the dolphin tattoo is one of the most common designs used by the men where it represents the protection against the sharks. It is also based on their daily activities where at that time most of the men sail out for fishing. 


The next inspiration for the traditional tattoo hand tapping in Bali is the Kalinga Tribal Tattoo. We are pretty sure that the word ‘tribal’ is so familiar to all of you, isn’t it? This tattoo design is also known as ‘Batek’ where it is come from the Philippines or in more detail is from Kalinga. This design is inspired by tribal warriors in that time. Many years ago, when the rules are still allowed the warrior to sever the enemy’s head, they will bring it and they will get the chest tattoo or biking once they come back to their house. When you pay attention to the detail, you will notice that the design gives the amazing resemblance with armory albeit and it is more abstract at the end. There is also a V-shape marking for showing the picture of Oracle Eagle, a creature that is believed as the messengers to Kabunian God. 

  1. IBAN

IBAN is original from Borneo. Actually, it is made by the Dayak race and the tattoo is so unique with its large size representation of spiritually charged figures of the plants, animals, and humans as well. Usually, the IBAN design also uses the floral motifs where it will be combined with the animals and plant figures. Before tattooing the client, the IBAN tattoo artist will first communicate with their spirit guides.  In the past, this Tattoo is performed on a Dayak person for a head-hunting purpose or for a certain ritual. Because of its quite difficult and complex design, this tattoo needs about 8 hours long or more until it is done properly.


The fourth design inspiration for the traditional tattoo hand tapping in Bali is the Samoan design. This design is mostly inspired by sea artifacts such as seashells, turtles, fishes, and more. These figures or designs are not just a picture, but it usually symbolizes something such as peace, long –life, and abundance. The other popular elements which are also used are like the sun and ocean such as the waves, spirals, and many more again. These figures show or represent the femininity and valor. In several rare moments, you maybe are able to see the ‘Marquesan Cross’ picture in this design. This is actually a local’s way of showing and representing the balance on earth. 

In Bali itself, you can get more designs or patterns which are based on the Balinese tradition and customs. For example, you can request the picture of the Balinese nature, Balinese mythological creatures (Rangda, Barong, Leak, and etc), Balinese traditional motifs, the sun, and more. Just come and meet the talented traditional tattoo hand tapping in Bali where they will treat you really well and give you the best result.

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Hand Tapping Collection By Albar Tikam

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