Tattoo Traditions of India's Gond & Kolam Women
There's an interesting article in The Hindu called "Tweaking Traditions," which looks at how the ancient tribal art of tattooing among the women of the Gond and Kolam tribes is fading as the younger generations "adopt modernity" and follow clothing fashions rather than decorate themselves permanently.
Reporter and photographer S. Harpal Singh says, "Traditionally, Gond and Kolam women wore meagre clothes which left a good part of their body exposed to sun. Much of bare skin used to be covered with tattoos, or 'kohkana' in Gondi, which gave the individual a decent look." Singh then quotes expert Guruji Ravinder Sharma: "Tattooing on the back, waist, arms and face was done during infancy of the girl child. The practice continues to this day but the size of the tattoo is much smaller."
Tattooing was also practiced for curing illness according to the article; for example, severe headaches were treated with tattoos on the temples and forehead.
While the article is a quick and easy read, it inspired me to look into India's tattooing traditions, and naturally, I came upon a more in-depth discussion by our favorite tattoo anthropologist Lar Krutak on The Vanishing Tattoo.
Read Lars' "India: Land of Eternal Ink" for a history lesson along with images of some beautiful tribal art.