Manipuri youth attempts to revive dying tribal tattoo art

Facial tattoo art

Tattooing the face, maybe a style fad today, but for certain tribal and indigenous people in the far North East of the country, such tattoos have been a integral way of life for ages.

And now, a 27-year-old Naga youth from Manipur is working to revive and give a new form to the traditional tattooing art of the tribal communities.

Moranngam Khaling, better known as Mo Naga, has just started the first ever official tattoo training institute in North-East India.

"My main intention for the school is to revive the art of the head-hunters. The main aim is to revive the art, the facial tattoo art of head-hunters. Just because people now do not do it does not mean that the art cannot be used anywhere," says Mo.

In the olden days taking a head was believed to increase the fertility of the crops and the more number of heads a warrior took the more the number of tattoos he sported. Today, of course, the practice is no longer in vogue.

"I want to combine old school art, the art of the Japanese, the native Americans, the Maoris, and others with Naga and tribal tattoo art forms of the North East," Mo said.

A graduate of National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mo, has been running a tattoo parlour in New Delhi since the year 2008.

"Guwahati being the centre of the North East and the biggest city in this region. The school is not only for Assam but for the entire North East," he says.

A qualified fashion designer, Mo believes that the need to uphold the dying tribal tattoo art from different regions of India is paramount.

"I will be based in Guwahati but I will keep visiting Delhi frequently because my clientele are based there. One of the associates would handle the Delhi studio in my absence," says Mo.

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