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The Vanishing Tattoo

Buy the premier episode of Vanishing TattooThe Vanishing Tattoo web site and documentary film series is devoted to the amazing history, powerful rituals and extraordinary social significance of tribal tattooing in many different cultures around the world.

In addition to examining and displaying tattoo designs, both ancient and modern, a more important objective of this web site is to try and discover the meaning behind body art - art that is inked into skin. As tattooing increasingly enters mainstream culture, we find ourselves asking: Are the tattoos we see on the sidewalks of Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, London and New York in any way connected to the body art still to be found in the jungles and ancient civilizations of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific? Why have tattoos been so important to their owners down through the ages? Why are they a universal phenomenon?

The Vanishing Tattoo is a celebration of the ancient art form of tattooing and it's oldest practitioners. Yes, traditional tattooing has come under extreme pressure, primarily from forces exerted from outside the culture. Nevertheless, the focus of The Vanishing Tattoo is on indigenous peoples who are wearing their traditional tattoos proudly and without shame. Our goal is to deliver this simple message: Despite globalization, many traditional cultures are finding a way to hang on to the traditional arts like tattooing. We hope that through film and this web site that we can continue to convey that message.

In an attempt to document the ancient tattoo practices before they vanish forever, renowned Canadian tattoo artist Tom Lockhart, and writer and historian of tattoo lore Vince Hemingson venture on a grueling journey deep into the heart of Borneo’s jungle to meet the last remaining Iban tattoo artists...

Not long ago, the Iban people of Borneo were elaborately decorated with boldly designed tattoos depicting the story of their life experiences. But today, among younger generations of Iban, this unique traditional art is dying out.

In what little tattooing remains, the ancient method of handtapping has been replaced by electric machines, and the deeply spiritual and personal traditional designs have been replaced by widely-adopted western images. 

Duration: 49 minutes approx
Product code: EN112
Photos: E Samuelson, L Krutak, V Hemingson

 View video clips of The Vanishing Tattoo DVD

View video clips from The Vanishing Tattoo DVD

Borneo Filming
Trip Photos

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