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Hold on to the last tattoo of Li people

People's Daily Online)  13:30, April 18, 2013  


Edited and translated by Li Xiang, People's Daily Online

Tattoo is a tradition and custom of Li ethnic minority. Tattoo is one rule set by the ancestors and is used to commemorate the mother of Li people. It is believed that women will not be recognized by their ancestors if they do not wear tattoos. One will get her first tattoo by the age of 12. These tattoos will be with them throughout their entire lives. Though for most people, getting tattooed is painful, penetrating the patterns into the body is seen as sacred and pure. The ritual must be held on an auspicious day in autumn.

The tattooist will use black blue liquid made by dried herbs and charcoal to draw the symbols and patterns exclusive to the Li people on the girl’s face, neck, torso and limbs. Afterwards, the tattooist will pierce using a needle made of bamboo thorn in accordance with the patterns. Once the liquid penetrates into the body, the pattern will remain forever. To avoid inflammation, the tattooist will wash the body with water boiled by Longan leaves.

The very ancient and mysterious tattoo is now vanishing day by day. The younger generation does not get tattooed any more, and the skill of tattooing is losing itself, which can only be touched in the memory of history.

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(Editor:LiXiang、Ye Xin)


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