Tag Archives: tattoo

Wandering Soul

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Sulaiman: Danau Tarusan Kamang, Agam, Sumatera, Indonesia

New places always excite me.

I could spend hours just wandering and observing my surrounding for something to learn from or just something to look at. Sharing 5 of my favorite portraits that whenever I look at it … I felt like packing my bag and start wandering on the street again.

Pic above: Sulaiman, our local talent posing for me with his fish cages. Danau Tarusan Kamang is a natural pond that seemed to have a mind of its own mind. It dried up and swelled up with water according to God knows whatever rules … I think it has something to do with its underground geographical structure.

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Mr Freedom: Bukit Tinggi, Sumatera, Indonesia

Pic above: Mr Freedom showing off his ‘freedom’ … tattooed hard on his chest. What a coincident since freedom is my all time favorite words lol.

Meeting strangers from all part of life while wandering around is an eye opening. I learned to listen well too. Stories about their day-to-day life which is most of the time would be an opposite story from mine.

Engaging a simple and sincere chat with strangers on the street came naturally to me too… I like it. And, I think that it would be rude for you to just showed up from nowhere and suddenly just click on your camera on somebody’s face.

Have some respect … kot.

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A woman from Karo Tribe: Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Pic above: My lady from Karo tribe of Omo Valley, Ethiopia posed with my colorful shawl. We were curious about each other lol.

I smiled whenever I saw this photo. She probably has never seen a shawl as colorful as mine in her life (Malaysian women wear colorful clothing at every chance that we have and we have a whole bundle of choices to choose from hu hu hu).  And, I envied her beads collection.

So, she wanted my colorful shawl for an exchange with her photos and I ended up having a series of her photos looking satisfied with our deal ;-P .

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Omak/ Mother: Bukit Tinggi, Sumatera, Indonesia

And, I personally think that it would be more satisfying to have some sort of connection with your subject. Especially when I am taking portraiture or faces on the street, I want to have meaning to a face that I would probably keep for a very long time in my external HDD.

Pic above: A loving mother that I met while wandering at one of the morning markets at Bukit Tinggi, Sumatera, Indonesia. We had a loving chat together … talking about her children and how lucky she was to be surrounded by her loved ones.

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Chacha: Northern Pakistan

And lastly, the chacha (uncle) that we met at one of our stops on our way to Skardu, Northern Pakistan. Strangers in this part of the world are rare. I never expected that we would be treated warmly.  it is true then … “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met”. (pls ignore the salt bottle on the table … lol)

I am feeling grateful … for the soul that decided to leave me, the soul that wander together hand-in-hand with me and the newly discovered soul that decided to stay … the best word to express my gratitude is alhamdullilah.

Bye for now.

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 

 


The colourful side of Whang-od from Buscalan, Kalinga

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Wang-od or Fang-od in-front of her house

I visited Whang-od or Fang-od of Buscalan, Kalinga in Philippine last year with my daughter and a group of photographer friends. Whang-od is the last Kalinga membantok or tattoo artist from Buscalan, Kalinga. I was not aware that she is quite well known among the tribal tattoo artist until I googled her. A small framed 95 years old woman with shy eyes and I can see that she has that colorful vibrant personality too. You can read details about Whang-od and her tattooing skill here at Lars Krutak: Tattoo Antropologist. And, if you enjoy street photography please feel free to browse through my Zenfolio gallery here at Street in North Luzon, Philippines for more photos of my journey there.

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The price that you have to pay for being famous … paparazzi 😉

It was not easy to reach her at her village. We started our approximately 4 hours journey to Buscalan, Kalinga from Segada via our cramped transport van. The road was narrow and winding but the view of the mountain was superb. I love mountains and greens … and more mountain … and … more more mountains, 😉 I know … this will never end.

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Heaven on earth mountain view

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Another superb God’s jewel taken from a moving van … noticed the panning effect? The driver refused to entertain my gazillion request for a quick stop to shot this view … thanx to my superb Nikon camera ( … Canon users please move aside 😉 )

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Our journey was delayed by 2 hours because of a landslide near Buscalan

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Temporary solution for the landslide problem

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The Buscalan village was located on the other side of the mountain and the only way to reach the village was through walking. It takes us around 1 hour of light trekking up and down the narrow slope of the mountain.

We spent one night at the village and the whole morning roaming around every corner of the village mingling around with the uncles, aunties and children there. The highlight event of the day was watching Whang-od at work, giving her tattoo services to a few of her willing customers. I used to feel fascinated by people with tattoos, maybe because previously tattoos were earned. The tattoo bearer’s (especially in a certain tribal group) were entitled to wear their tattoos as a medal of evidence to show life accomplishment  such as the act of bravery or courageousness or a rank within their community. In our modern world now, tattooing are more towards fashion statements or body art and anybody can wear tattoos according to their personal liking.

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Typical scene around the village

She and her jewelries

Whang-od at work

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My ‘colorful’ KGB friend Ruel posing with another Whang-od satisfied customer (Ruel, please PM me if u don’t want me to post your photo here 😉 )

Honestly, after half an hour of watching Whang-od carving on her customer’s skin while listening to the soft repetitive tapping sound of her needle, made me sleepy and my eyes started to wonder around my surroundings, hunting for interesting subject of colour to simulate my senses. Then, I noticed Whang-od’s  jewelry. Wow, such a stylish lady she was … with abundant glass beads necklaces hanging on her neck and her striking colored hair decoration. The beads were mostly glass beads mixed with a few ceramic beads. I was informed that most of the beads were family heirloom passed down by her ancestors. And, I noticed her earrings too, a pair of silver earring charm that symbolized good luck.

If I had known earlier that Whang-od loved beads then I would probably bring along some beads for her as a souvenir. A good tip for anyone who plan to visit her, bring along some gorgeous beads for her 🙂 and I bet she would love it for sure.

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Her hair decorations and her earring at full display

 

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It seemed that everybody here in the village preferred glass beads jewelry

To tell you the truth, glass bead has never been my kind of bead maybe because it looks a bit old fashion, heavy, fragile and most importantly man-made (I love natural stones). But, seeing Whang-od with her heirloom glass beads … hmmm makes me want to have my own unique glass beads collection too but trying to get hold of a one-of-a-kind glass bead here in Kuala Lumpur is not easy. Maybe I will get lucky and stumble upon them during my next visit to Xinjiang and Tashkurgan Country, China and yeah maybe I will share it here.

So, what did I get for myself during this trip? Yes!! … I bought my own Kalinga native silver charm as an addition to my treasure chest collection. Ruel told me that the shape represent ‘good luck’ by the Kalinga native. Super cool right? Up until today, I still can’t figure out how to wear this charm. Should I wear it as a pendant or should I just tie it to my leather bracelet?

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My own Kalinga native ‘good luck’ charm

 

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 


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