Inked Faces & Feather Headdresses - Traditions of the Chin Tribes of Western Burma - 2013
The Chin State in western Burma (Myanmar) is home to 6 Chin tribes. The Kcho Chin ethnic hill tribes live in the hillside terrains of the southern Chin State; and practice their own ethnic religion that embraces animistic beliefs. Due to the rugged terrain and near isolation these tribes and villages have remained fairly untouched - I did not see any other foreigner during my travels to this remote area in 2013. The Chin women are famous for their distinctive tattoo faces, an old tradition practised by the Kcho women. The practice of facial tattooing, where women endured pain and sacrificed blood as the needles of porcupines or spiky thorns pierced their faces creating tattooed patterns and symbols relating to nature and the animal kingdom to enhance their beauty. To these women, beauty means power - the power of seduction. Chin men have always been attracted to the strongest females in their clan, so a Chin girl who has endured the painful ritual of facial tattooing enjoys a higher social status in Chin society and regarded as a good wife. Female facial tattooing is rarely practised amongst today's young generation of Chin women. The Chin people have their own Chin National Day Festival held annually, where they celebrate their heritage, traditions and culture. At Chin festival time the elder Kcho Chin men will be dressed in all their finery, resplendent in their ceremonial silk turban headdresses decorated with tall eagle feathers and large gold circular earrings in their ears. Khaung, a cider like beer, is drunk at the festival as it plays a very important part in Kcho Chin culture.