Traditional Indonesian Tribe Tattoo: The Dayak Tribe – By Albar Tikam

Traditional Tattoo In Bali

Traditional Indonesian Tribe Tattoo: The Dayak Tribe – By Albar Tikam

Indonesia is a huge country where it has various kinds of tribes and it triggers various traditional Indonesian tribe tattoo designs too. Most of the popular and famous one is maybe the Dayak Tribe. Today we will talk more about the traditional tattoo from the Dayak Tribe.

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Tattoo for most of the Dayak Tribe is the thing that cannot be separated from their body. This traditional Indonesian tribe tattoo is a sacred thing and it is closely related to some events and also aims which becomes the culture of Kalimantan Tribes in Indonesia. However, we have to remember that not all the Dayak people have a tattoo in their body and not all the Dayak people have the same tattoo design. Some tattoos have the same motifs, but sometimes they add several modifications to make the tattoo are different and more beautiful too.

The Aim of Making Tattoo for Dayak People

Tattoo for the Dayak people is called ‘tutang’ where each motif or design has a different meaning, process, and place. This traditional Indonesian tribe tattoo cannot be done haphazardly. Based on a belief, a black tattoo owned by a Dayak tribe will change into the gold color and it will become a light to enlighten the roads to eternity after they died and have gone through a ‘tiwah’ ceremony. This aim is closely related to their belief and maybe culture.

Besides the aim, tattoo for the Dayak People or Dayak Tribes also have some functions as follows:

  1. As a sign that the tattoo owner is a Dayak native descendant.
  2. A tattoo will protect and guide the tattoo owner from the evil spirit influence
  3. As a sign that the owner has been passed the ‘Kinyah’ (a traditional martial art which uses Mandau)
  4. As a reward for service because he always heals or help other people
  5. As a reward for the courage in a war area
  6. as a reward that the tattoo owner has migrated to various tribes
  7. For a woman, this tattoo can become a sign that she is ready to get married
  8. As a sign for the different social status
  9. And another function

Those are the functions of why the traditional Indonesian tribe tattoo is made for the Dayak tribe.

Various Kinds of the Dayak Tribe Tattoo

We knew that a place or tribe can have various kinds of motif or designs for their tattoo. That is why; the Dayak tribe also has more than one design for their traditional tattoo. The shape and picture of the Dayak’s tattoo is commonly taken from nature like the Enggang birds that represent the world above. The life rope on the frog represents the world under, and some other motifs such as the eggplant flower motif, tree branch, and many other shapes inspired by the nature.

Besides those kinds of traditional Indonesian Tribe tattoo’s design and motif, there are still some other motifs that we can see such as the tutang bajai or the crocodile tattoo, dragon picture, saluang murik, apui (fire), palapas langau (the flies wings), manuk tutang usuk, matan punei (the eyes of punei bird), manuk tutang penang, lampinak (like a cross symbol). tutang tasak, bajai dinding, and more. The interesting thing is that the tattoo for women and men is usually different. Commonly, it is distinguished by the form and aim. Below is a further description of it.

  1. The Tattoo for Man

The tattoo which is placed in the man’s fingers represents that the owner is someone who likes to help others. The eggplant flower tattoo with the life rope picture (special shape on a frog) located in the middle is a sign that a man from the Dayak tribe has been entered his adult period. Meanwhile, the tiger’s face tattoo is usually placed in the thigh section to show a man’s social status which is for sure that a man has a high social degree in society. You can also find the Rekong tattoo which is located in a man’s neck where this tattoo will give power to his throat or it has a function to protect someone from the enemy’s manday (traditional weapon).

  1. The Tattoo for Woman

The traditional Indonesian tribe tattoo for a Dayak’s woman is also varied. For the example is the Tedak Kassa Tattoo which is placed in someone’s feet; it is a sign that a woman has entered her adult age. In addition, the tedak usuu tattoo and tedak hapii tattoo will be placed in a woman’s hand as a protector from the evil.

  1. The Ingredients to Make Tattoo

The ingredients to make a tattoo in the Dayak Tribes many years ago was different from the present ingredients. In the past, the tattoo was made from the orange tree’s thorn which is so long and sharp. Meanwhile, nowadays this tool is replaced by the needle. Besides those tools, some other ingredients or types of equipment which are also needed are:

  • sale dammar (damar charcoal)
  • Up pinang
  • Puluh bamboo
  • bamboo which is split into half
  • the flattened iron in the size of your index finger
  • the ulin wood in the size of your index finger

The process of making this tattoo is so complex and someone needs to have the great skill to do it properly.

When the tattoo was made, usually the other families’ members were prohibited to go outside the house so that something bad will be not happened to the tattoo owner. This traditional Indonesian tribe tattoo will be healed within a week until a month long. However, it will depend on the size of your tattoo. To make a tattoo in your while body, usually, you will need for about 2 years until all tattoos were made completely. This long time is because of some reasons such as the huge size of the tattoo, the power had by the tattoo artists, and for sure about the pain that will be felt by the people when they do this tattoo in their body. So, are you interested to have this traditional Indonesian tribe tattoo?


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