Borneo Tribal Tattoos

Pinned on February 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm by admin

Borneo Tribal Tattoos

What does Borneo tribal tattoos look like?

Borneo has a rich and long tradition in body tattoo. Although not as well documented as the Maori tattoos, it still popular to this day. Borneo is the third largest island in the world, and the natives practiced farming and hunting before the colonial period. Not all tribes practice the art of tattooing, the most well known tribes that do so are the Ibans and the Muruts. However, since the colonial age, many Borneo tribal tattoos are no longer seen.

Many Borneo tattoos are for protection, such as the Borneo Rosette or Bunga Terung. These are always tattooed in pairs, commonly on the shoulders. Great for world travelers. For travelers to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, visit Black Ink Industry, at Tanjung Aru beach.

But these days, many of the younger generation sport modern tattoos instead of tribal ones. I guess individuality is what it is about as opposed to a tribal tattoo. And since you cannot get a headhunting tattoo, it does lessen the thrill of getting a traditional tribal tattoo.

Borneo Rosette by

What does the the Dusun Tattoo from Borneo look like?

I found this thread in Yahoo Answers, and decided to publish in part here. The original article is here,

“The Dusun aborigines used to wear a decorated band, two inches wide, from the shoulder to the stomach and on the forearm a perpendicular stripe for each enemy killed.”

The information you have sounds to me like the headhunting tattoo of the Murut, as described by Hatton in the 1880′s. He seems, with Rutter, the only person who has ever said anything about North Borneo tattoos, which is rather strange because there must have been an elaborate art just like in the rest of Borneo, or it would not make much sense.

I have talked to Rungus, and they believe that ‘rogon-rogon’ are tattooed. Thus, if you sport tattoos as well you will be recognised as a friend by them, but what type of tattoo remains elusive, not even the old people seem to remember.

I have talked to old Kadazan and Dusun folks and they can’t recall any tattoo patterns …….The Tahol Murut have this story: yes, there used to be tattoos but with the advent of the British and their preference for fierce warrior folks in the constabulary they recruited Muruts. However, they frowned upon tattoos and many fathers forbade their sons tattoos in order to get a job with the constabulary – and thus a better future.

Answered by Effendi R

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