Tag Archives: tribal jewelry

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

 

 

 


Inspire me Africa …

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Earth tone necklace

I was in the middle of editing and organizing my 1000++ Ethiopian images when out of boredom I decided to create a necklace and a matching bracelet that will remind me of Ethiopia. Out of my remaining beads, I found some earth tone dyed agate, combined it with some colorful china seed beads and matched it with a rhodium plated steel pendant for my necklace. You can wear the necklace in 2 styles, remove the attached hook then you can wear it long (about 43cm diameter) or just wear it short like the picture shown above.

And, the same combo beads also goes to my Ethiopian inspired bracelet with some little brown agate gemstones tied together to the rhodium-plated steel toggle. Please check out Gayaizzah.com page and IG for details.

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Earth tone bracelet

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 


Colourful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

Wedding ceremony of Hamar people

Wedding celebration back at the village, celebrated by friends and family

I grew up believing that Utopia and Ethiopia is the same place. Had a rough childhood and I like the idea of living in Utopia where the community/ people were heavenly pleasant, even a little-lost child can roam freely without worries. In reality, Utopia and Ethiopia is a completely different opposite in every each way. I discovered that Ethiopia is an African country next to Somalia and famously portrayed as a poor, underdeveloped country and prone to experience famine, just like the rest of its neighboring African country. This country or any other African country has never been listed on my bucket list – of places that I need to visit before I die.

Out of curiosity (and my urge to try something different) I decided to join Photosafari Malaysia when they organised a trip to Ethiopia for the first time. Yup, it was an out of the world kind of experience and I ended up exploring Ethiopia twice (first trip covering Southern part and second trip covering Northern part). Ethiopia is geographically adventurous and Ethiopian are amazingly colourful people. A real eye-opener for the ignorant me and I had experienced my ‘advance’ humanity lesson here. Honestly, I need to write a 200-page book to be able to express everything that I had learned there. But, since my blog is about colour and jewellery then let us just stick to that 🙂

I was at Omo River Valley of Southwestern Ethiopia last year visiting a few ethnic people of Ethiopia like Karo, Hamar, Benna, Mursi and Dassecnech. The people of Hamar struck most of my attention probably because of the way they carried out themselves. They seemed to have the air and pride of a warrior. The same feelings that I felt while I was lingering around people of Afar from Danakil Depression, Northern Ethiopia. While hanging around with them at the market and their village, I noticed that male and female of Hamar people are very fashionable and colourful people. The choices of color on their jewelry were strikingly matched their skin colour. Their jewelry and accessories were either made of African seed beads or metal (like brass, copper and silver).

Lucky me, I had the opportunity to attend the famous Hamar Bull Jumping ceremony and a wedding celebration back in their village. Bull jumping or bull leaping ceremony is where a Hamar man has to successfully leap over a line of cattle in order for him to get married. It is an initiation right of passage to qualify him to get married, own cattle and have children. And, I managed to witness and captured a collection of photos of them with their full jewelry on display during both of the ceremonies. Images taken during my visit to the market, the Bull Jumping ceremony and during the wedding celebration are compiled into a gallery below. Detail description for each photo is included, click on each photo for full view and full description of the image.

There are great stories behind the Hamar’s unique fashion statement, you can visit Lars Krutak: Tattoo Anthropologist’s blog for details facts and stories. For a full view of these images in higher resolution, please visit my Zenfolio gallery: Colourful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

Before the Bull jumping ceremony started, women from the groom’s side need to endure a series of whipping on their flesh to prove their love towards their men. Honestly, it was not a very pleasant scene to witness. I was uncomfortable by the whipping sounds and seeing blood oozing out from a dangling flesh was not something that I want to share here. But you always can google for further information about the ceremony. The Hamer women are as fashionable as their men. If men can show off their brave accomplishment through their body scars and mud cap, women of Hamar have the same way to display their braveness and status to the public.

Other than body scarification, their fashion statement generally is based on their marital status (depending on whether they are married, engaged or single). Married women wear their hair with that muddy hairstyle called goscha, some kind of fat and special mud (ochre imported from African neighboring country like Kenya) blended together to create a wet-looking hair that they believed can attract their men. Married and engaged women of Hamer need to wear 2 neck rings around their neck, and an additional heavy neck ring called esente for the first wife of a Hamar man. Like their men, the jewelry and accessories for Hamar women are mostly made of  African seed beads and metals (either brass, copper or silver) too. Below are some images of the Hamar women with their jewelry. For a full view of these images in higher resolution, please visit my Zenfolio gallery: Colorful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

I bought myself a bracelet during my second trip there, a simple metal bracelet just to remind myself that I survived the Danakil Depression (the hottest place on earth). We were at the Dalol of  Danakil Depression campsite when I saw Muhammad, a local Afar boy, wearing a bracelet that I kind of like and I ended up buying it from him for 300 bir.

Well, I know it was kind of expensive but I was desperately in need to reward myself for being able to endure the agony that I had to experience during my visit. A sweat agony indeed … love every moment I spent here in Ethiopia … alhamdullilah.

Thanks for reading.

A metal bracelet that I bought from Muhammad, an Afar boy from Dalol, Danakil Depression

The metal bracelet that I bought from Muhammad, an Afar boy from Dalol, Danakil Depression

 

Cheers

MM

ps: If you are interested to visit Ethiopia, I recommend you to contact my Ethiopian friend aka my local guide, Daniel Million and seek his advice to plan your trip. Please check him out at Traverse Ethiopia Tours


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