Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tibetan Tattoos

One of my all time favorite blogs -- The Lost Yak -- has an article on the subject of Tibet and tattoos that I have long wished to see. The gist of the thing is that indigenous information on the subject is difficult to find.

Such is not the case in the West.

If you're talking "Tibet" and "tattoo" in the same sentence, you are in the sights of the great Tashi Mannox -- the world's foremost Tibetan calligrapher, a longstanding friend of DTBA, and a peerless source of information on the subject of Tibetan tattoos. If called upon to do so, he could testify as an expert witness on the subject in court proceedings -- he is that knowledgeable.
(I will mention that Tashi's dad is also a friend -- he sent us something a few months ago, but while we were working with it, Blogger experienced the mother of all crashes, and we lost the whole thing -- a marvelous article on a mysterious scroll case for the Karmapa! UPDATE: We just fixed that. Read the story here.)
I have often wondered whether tattoos should be considered abuse or adornment; in the latter instance, something on the order of wearing permanent makeup, or jewelry. Maybe I am a little old-fashioned in that regard. 

I do recognize that tattoos with Tibetan themes continue to grow in popularity -- you could even say they are wildly popular. We get many, many visitors here looking for information on the subject, so I just want to direct such visitors to Tashi's site, linked above, and Lost Yak, for the scholarly approach. You will find no better resources anywhere on the 'Net.

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4 reader comments:

Cliff said...

Tashi's work is truly stupendous. And his Dad's photos of the 16th Karmapa are sooo beautiful and potent.

Stephen said...

I wonder if there are "rules" or "taboos" to bear in mind when there are tattoos of sacred mantras and sacred images on one's body. What is the Tibetan Buddhist tradition's position on this ?

Oood said...

I have read in a reputable text (so sorry reference no longer in ram) that Buddhas do not tattoo, nor pierce. But that probably must be taken in context. Surely monks in training do neither. But we either blundering or marauding in samsara do either. said...

Stephen - I wrote a post about that recently: