Bringing 'hand-tap' tattoos back to Taiwan

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 3, 2019 - Duration: 01:30s

Bringing 'hand-tap' tattoos back to Taiwan

The tattoo technique of hand-tapping had almost vanished from Taiwan.

But artist Cudjuy Patjidres says he is devoted to reviving an important culture of his ancestors.

Michelle Hennessy reports.


Bringing 'hand-tap' tattoos back to Taiwan

Cudjuy Patjidres is a Taiwanese tattooist.


With a twist.

He's practicing an ancient method called "hand tapping".

It had almost been eradicated here in Taiwan - first by Japanese colonizers banning it, and later by the Chinese Nationalist Government.

Patjidres only came across the art when browsing a Japanese book.

He's now on a quest to revive this important tradition from his ancestors.

And spread the word - or symbols - of his tribe: (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) PAIWAN TRADITIONAL TATTOO ARTIST, CUDJUY PATJUDRE, SAYING: "Within our Paiwan culture, the pit viper represents an ancestral spirit and guardian god.

We have snakes, the sun and male eagles as guardian gods.

So this is quite special, these triangular shapes represent the feathers of eagle wings." He begins by steeping needles in ink.

Which used to be made out of charred millet stalks and soot from the bottom of a cooking pot.

That's one part of the tradition that Patjidres isn't keeping alive - instead opting for more modern ingredients.

He then strikes a steel needle into the skin by tapping on the wooden handle that they're attached to.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) TATTOO RECIPIENT, VATU LIN, SAYING: "When he was doing the dot pattern in the beginning, it didn't hurt that much.

But now that he's making a line pattern......... I can feel the pain." This style is also found in other Pacific islands - and Patjidres wants to play up their shared indigenous heritage.

So if you're brave enough to get your own, you can find hand-tap tattooing in Samoa, the Philippines, and Hawaii.

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