Vanishing Ink-Permanent Ink Vanishing Identity
A little away from the noise of the generators powering the new cinemas cum tea shops of modern Myanmar was this serene little village set near the mountain town of Mindat. Three hours of trekking by foot after a eight hour drive was how I got here to meet this small group of indigenous people from the chin tribe.
What struck me first was the women and their facial tattoos. I wondered about the pain they went through to adorn this permanent marking of ink on their face. Though the developed world has adopted tattooing its considered a taboo, ugly and defacing to have facial tattoos.
The very first photograph I got tot take here was a young woman with beautiful tattoo shaped like half moons smoking a hand crafted clay pipe sitting and reflecting her life against a chiaroscuro type of natural light setting her humble bamboo and wooden home created for me .
While many things here were strange to my part westerns and eastern socio cultural mind I could not help appreciate the beauty , strength and different way of life of these warm wonderful people . The men mostly hunted and gather wood and seemed not have facial tattoos which took years to create starting from childhood.
Myanmar just opened its doors for foreign tourists after more than 5 years and result is the explosion of goods including new utensils, cans of beverages , plastic pouches of mini shampoos, toothbrushes, instant noodles that are slowly but surely taking over this country also.
Its a matter of time before the next generation get schooled and conditioned in the so called right way of superior cultures and permanently change this land and more importantly the identity of these people for ever . All of this for technical progress only and heaps of health related issues that so called prefect cultures are facing today. Only now are Native american and likes such as the Maori searching for their true identity after years of trying to fit into other societies. Are the ways and means of one culture good for all people in the world ? Is that not a way of modern slavery when indigenous people become displaced by the methods created by the mosaic of cultures , becoming dependent on mass produced consumer goods and do meagre jobs for the rest of their lives unable to go back or forward after leaving their truly sustainable life ?
I as a photographer want to raise this topic through my pictures for the world to see and make the right choices in empathizing and contributing rather than blindly sympathizing and helping to prevent another possible mistake for humanity.