Dulong Tribal Facial Tattoos

My old friend Damien, who started tattoos.com back at about the same time as BME, also from here in Toronto, went to China last fall for the Beijing Convention (he’s currently organizing NIX again for Toronto, and working on a convention in South Africa for next January). He took these pictures of facial tattoos on Dulong tribal women while he was there


Dulong facial tattooing died out in the 50s after China took over the region, and these days there are perhaps fifty people that still wear the tattoos, which were done as a coming of age rite. The designs vary from clan to clan, but their meaning has been largely lost to history. Continue after the break for more pictures by Damien.







Check out Damien’s article for more information — he had a chance to interview them via a translator while he was there for the convention, and they describe the “painful memory” of being tattooed.

23 thoughts on “Dulong Tribal Facial Tattoos

  1. so interesting. their clothes are amazing too. i kind of feel bad for the one women that kind of looks like shes had a felt-tip scribbled on her.

  2. Life’s full of coincidences – I just read that article yesterday while checking on an experience submission (which turned out to be a copy-and-paste job of said article, oh how I HATE those people!) and thought “Hey, I`d like to read a BME interview with him where he could expand that a bit”.

  3. Its awesome to see tribes that include the motification of women in their practices

  4. I can only agree with Bastian – awesome story, great pics and it’s only proper to see and read about it on BME.
    Big thanks to Damien for the story, too!

  5. Their fashion rocks. They are the cutest things ever. I also find their facial tattoos very cool – especially the way they all have the same symmetry but differ in design

  6. the clothing is fantastic! it would be awesome to see these tattoos after they were done – the ravages of time and whatnot.

  7. the colors are AWESOME! i wish contemporary America would wear more colorful apparel.

  8. And peeps always ask what I will look like when I’m old. now I have an answer for them…I’m gonna look damn good! These ladies are beautiful.


  9. Chloedon: “The third Dulong elder, Chini, which means number five in the family tells us she was tattooed at the age of thirteen by younger sister ten years of age, so she does not think hers are that good.”

    I’d hate to have a ten-year-old kid poking me in the face with a sharp stick, let alone one covered in ashes.

  10. good lord, i threw a glass of milk on my sister when i was eight and she was nine – she still won’t get over it and i’m not 23! i can’t imagine if i messed up her facial tattoos or she didn’t really like them…

  11. or rather, i’m now 23. i must be getting old because i can’t even type and it’s not yet midnight!

  12. i love seeing pictures like this.

    and i really really hope the convention in south africa is in cape town, so far they have all been soooo far away and i havent been able to go.

  13. I wonder if these women faced discrimination after the Chinese took over and it wasn’t common anymore? I think they’re awesome, but I’m not sure what it would be like to go from a society with facial tattoos galore to one without.

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