Ancient art of tattooing among Laju tribals is dying

Itanagar: Tattooing is chic and for screen stars like Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor or football legend David Beckham, they are a fashion statement, but the tribals who practised the art originally centuries ago are now abandoning it with the advent of modernity.

For instance, the girls of the Laju tribe in Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh, who have been tattooing their body parts since ancient times, are now less inclined to wear the decorations.

Laju girls, who believe that tattoos bring good fortune, particularly wear diamond-shaped tattoos on the chin from age four to five and also draw lines on their cheeks and noses after they attain puberty.

Not only the face, tattoos in the form of lines and dots are also worn in their chests, navels, thighs and other body parts to the accompaniment of religious rituals and ceremonies.

The art is, however, fast disappearing from the Himalayan state with modernity coming in a big way to reshape their lives. Some enterprising youths in the state are now promoting tattooing by branding it as a fashion statement `a la the western world to arrest its decline.

Tadum Baja, 24, when asked about the tattoos on his arm, said it was `hip and cool` and that all his friends have done it at Laju where it is known as ‘Bifa’. It is also known as ‘Khuta’ elsewhere.

Tattooing of women here is a social custom, but with men it has always been connected to head-hunting. Girls are tattooed in a ceremony called ‘Bong Juong’ which is basically done when a girl reaches her puberty.


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