April 14, 2021
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Portraits of Facial Tattooed Chin Women on Exhibition in Germany

22 May 2011: A photographic collection of Chin women with facial tattoos has been on display as the first exhibition of its kind worldwide at the State Museum of Ethnology in Munich, Germany since June 2010.

The exhibition, sponsored by Ancient Geographic Travels & Tours from Myanmar, features 22 portraits of tattooed Chin women taken by a German professional photographer, Jens Uwe Parkitny, who makes a regular visit to Burma on several occasions since 1999.

It was in 2001 that he did his first trip to southern parts of Chin State and started the Chin women portrait project, which has come into its 10th anniversary, he recalled.

Jens Uwe Parkitny told Chinland Guardian: “I have been regularly traveling to sounthern Chin State and western Rakhine State in the past 10 years and was able to document Chin facial tattoos which have never been documented. Since it is a dying art and craft I believe it is important to document.”

He also noted that more people discover the rich and unique culture of the various Chin tribes through his work.

Jens’ extensive photographic documentation of the Chin women presents their unique centuries-old facial tattoos marked by inserting indelible ink made from a mixture of soot and vegetable saps using thorns or spike ridges.

Explaining about the exposition of the complex patterns of the Chin facial tattoos, Jens said he develops an aesthetic view and perspective, attempting to depict the beauty and the dignity of its bearer.

The Munich exhibition, which was first programmed to run for three months only from 16 June last year, has extended its special public showcase until 3 July 2011, as part of the series of art cabinet exhibitions to accompany the Museum’s permanent “Beyond the horizon – World Art” exhibition.

A 50-page exhibition catalogue, considered to be a rare document by ethnologists and anthropologists as it includes the first comprehensive overview of different tattoo patterns of various Chin tribes ever documented and published, is available for purchase only at the Museum or at the Myanmar Book Center in Baho Road, Yangon.

In early March this year, a gallery of 25 Chin women portraits by Jens Uwe Parkitny was screened at the Yangon Photo Festival at the French Cultural Centre alongside other national and international photographers in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Women’s Day in Burma.

Jens Uwe Parkitny is the author of a book ‘Bloodfaces‘, a photographic documentation that unveils not only the variety of delicate tattoo patterns among various Chin groups but also the innate strength and courage of the women enduring the pain of the needlework.

Van Biak Thang

[email protected]

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