Greetings Tattoo Tribe Members,
Welcome to the seventh edition of the Tattoo Tribe
Newsletter! We now have over 4400 members!
FILMING HAS STARTED!!
We hope to have a few newsletters a bit closer
together now that the filming of the documentary pilot has
actually started. We'll be featuring
updates from Borneo (when the guys can get to a cyber cafe)
the scene photos of the action. (any text below in
bold has a corresponding picture... there are 24 pictures so
far and you, our loyal Tribe members are getting the first
look! This page has not been linked from the rest of the
website yet and won't be for 48 hours, so enjoy!)
Tom and I are out and about checking out the local colour in Kuching, Borneo and adding a little of our own
in our kilts. The temperature was a balmy 86 degrees with 90 percent humidity. And yes, the boys were cool, mighty cool...
Kuching is named after the Malay word for cat, "kucing". So when seeing the local tabbies, you're actually seeing a Kuching kucing. I am not making this up.
There are statues and sculptures of cats everywhere.
I went to the local Budhist temple and both burned some incense and lit several red candles. I hope this will bring many propitious omens our way.
The carved totems outside the Kuching Museum, surely one of the finest in Southeast Asia, reminded both Tom and I of home, especially the totems in Stanley Park. Once again, notice the manly nature of men in kilts...
Special thanks to Steve, Danielle, Uncle Otto and especially Steve Wadsworth of the Utilikilt and Utiliclan family.
Also, Lem Lemercier for whipping up the rest of my gear on such short notice.
My beloved Vancouver Dayton boots are a big hit here as well. Maybe I'll have to see about a jungle franchise for boots and safari kilts in Borneo...
Our Director Jack Silberman is prepped, ready and eager to go as are our Kiwi Cameraman Earl Kingi, Kiwi Soundman Errol Johnson, our Iban guides, friends and family David Kalum Umpie and his wife Alice, (our Mother away from home) and their talented tattoo artist sons, Edward and Simon David.
We couldn't have reached this stage without the amazing Judy Chan and Fabian. We will miss them greatly when we board the "Sarawak Queen" tomorrow and head out into the South China Sea...
As we head towards the Sekrang River basin, we'll slip loose of our everyday ties to family, friends and home. But you are all never far from our thoughts and hearts. We will carry our collective memories of you with us as we begin our journey in search of the origins of Iban tattooing and take comfort in knowing how much you support our undertaking. A support that in many cases has been one that has stretched back many months and years.
All the best,
The Vanishing Tattoo
we get underway
Well we finally got down to it this morning, spent several hours at the
Kuching market shooting Vince and I buying supplies for the trip. The Kiwis (our camera
and sound men) are great, and their accents aren't too heavy. Then we spent
several more hours at a local tattoo shop doing interior shots to get some
contrast to the up river hand poking that will be done in the longhouses.
This afternoon we will be heading out to this little fishing village to shoot
scenes where we are loading up and heading out to the South
China Sea. The boats are great. Old beater fishing vessels kinda like
the "African Queen"
Unfortunately the island of Borneo is covered by a HUGE blanket of smog/smoke from all the
burning of slash and date palm trees in Kalimatan and Sumatra, visibility is less than two
kilometres so it may really affect the helicopter scene.
Every night this week there is an incredible Chinese
festival of the "Moon Cake". Just a riot of colour and noise, Chinese
dragon dances, weird food and smells.
Last night it started to pour. And I mean....
I got to shake the Minister of Sarawak's hand last
night as he passed through the crowd pressing the flesh... and took a picture
of myself doing it. I was wearing my kilt, had my top off with all those
tattoos showing. Of all those thousands of peoples hands he shook, I think he
will remember that one. I know for sure all his body guards will.
Vanishing Tattoo UPDATE
Filming is now underway!! Our intrepid crew
of adventurers are now in Borneo for three weeks of
shooting along the River of Death. Stay tuned for more updates...
Tribal Tattoo Trivia
Early Samoan Tattooing
The tatau and the ceremony surrounding it had many functions in Samoan society. First it was the initiation of a boy into a man's world. Although it was not officially an initiation, the ceremony follows the same pattern of most initiation ceremonies: the seclusion of pre-adult males, an ordeal or mutilation of the body to show maturity, a simulated death, and integration back into society as a man. Tattooing also
instils "in young men an ethos of violence... the capacity and disposition to meet force with force, and to overcome". The song that was sung while the boys were tattooed demonstrates that war and tattooing were intrinsically connected:
O Fi Filelei, like a necklace of whale's teeth
Aid us when we get ready for war
And Tofou, descended from the gods, aid us
Adorn us with your victories
It was thought that as it was sung it would be absorbed into the body along with the ink and become a part of the boy. Tattoos were a part of the Samoan psychological warfare as it was with the Maori. They were intended to scare the enemy, especially when the grotesque gesturing that occurred before and during the battle was added. It also had a practical use in battle, similar again to the Maori, which was to identify the slain. Gell also interpreted the grand ceremony and festival associated with tattooing to have much political importance, by bringing the community together, as well as being conditioning psychologically, that is to say, to introduce the boys into a world where they must be able to endure great amounts of pain and in which they must become strong warriors, but to indoctrinate them into always obeying their superior, the chief.
©1996 Theresa Wall
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