Over 5,000 years ago
The history of traditional tattooing began
and diverse as the people who wear them.
Philippine Tattoo Culture
March 17, 1521
When Ferdinand Magellan and his men landed on the shores of Homonhon
“pintados”Natives were called “pintados”,
meaning “painted people”.
The first natives wore tattoos and Magellan mistakenly
thought the designs were painted on.
Originated from the polynesian term
(tah-tah-oo or tah-taw)
“ to mark or strike”,
“doing what is right or correct”
The interpretations of the sound of the tapping of the
tattooing tools as the ink is pushed into the skin.
And made its way into the European languages as the word
Extension of a
man’s loincloth or a
“ Manfatek ”
“ Manbatek ”
“ Mambabatok ”
“ Bumafatek ”
“ Manfattong ”
Tattoo : Artists
would be paid in advance with livestock, heirloom beads
or coined silver, etc
a comb of needles set at a right angle to the length of
an L-shaped stick.
Tattoo : Equipments
An Adze-like tool was made of wood or
carabao horn ( Philippine water buffalo)
with needles made of iron, steel, brass,
bamboo or thorns of the orange tree
lashed to the tool.
Tattooing needles of the Pacific
Islands were usually made from the
bones of fishes, birds and small
The needles were razor
sharp and capable of
executing very precise
lines and designs.
They are the people who live in the mountainous areas of Benguet,
Ifugao, Mounatin Province and Kalinga-Apayao.
Tattooed chest of the
headhunter / headtaker
The tattooed arms
of men and women
Tattooed on the Hands of an
FATEK is the word used to call the tattoo on the hands of the old women in Bontoc.
It beautifies the body.
Hand tattooing is a distinct
Bontoc ‘body’ art. The practice
has ended but the remnants of
this art is still seen in the hands of
an old women of Bontoc.
of a young
warrior to a
The modern “tribal” tattoo now has come full of circle and is worn by
the descendants of the very people who originally inspired the
modern art. Due to its popularity, others have sought to emulate the
trend by creating “tattoo flash” of these sacred designs. Tattoo flash
is a drawn or printed copy of a tattoo design on paper, made stirctly
to be sold. Often new tribal tattoos are stylized versions or copies of
tattoos used by indigenous people.