Beauty in ink: Kuching Tattoo Festival 2022 aims to dispel negative perception of body art

A woman getting as sleeve tattoo by one of the artists at Kuching Tattoo Festival 2022.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Sept 30: Tattoo enthusiasts as well as those curious about getting inked made their way to the Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) hall as early as 9am today in anticipation of the Kuching Tattoo Festival 2022.

The three-day event, which will run until Sunday (Oct 2) will showcase some 40 artists from Sarawak, Sabah, West Malaysia, Philippines and the Czech Republic featuring their body artwork either using traditional or machine method of tattooing with all sorts of unique and intricate designs.

A woman getting her arm tattooed by one of the artists at the festival.

Organised by Skrang Tattoo Studio And Inkzation Tattoo Studio, its spokesperson Leo @ Muamoko said the festival will focus primarily on body art elements to create awareness of the Dayak heritage, and to dispel the negative connotations surrounding tattoos.

“Tattooing has been part of our Dayak culture and Borneo identity. This event is one of the ways for us to maintain our tradition and identity in Borneo.

“Our State of Sarawak is well known for its Dayak tattoos, with one of the famous designs being the ‘Bunga Terung’. As a matter of fact, this culture is also considered as body art,” Leo told reporters after the ‘miring’ ceremony to mark the opening of the festival.

Clockwise from top: Peter (in red headscarf), Leo and Andrew speaking to the media.

Cultural Ambassador for Dayak International Organisation Peter John Jaban concurred, adding that they must revive the original Dayak carvings and designs that are almost extinct.

“Unless we expose our younger generation to this, it will soon be gone. Therefore we must inspire them to to have more interest in arts and culture” Peter said.

The miring ceremony to mark the start of the festival.
A performer shows off his moves and tattoos at the opening of Kuching Tattoo Festival 2022.

Dayak permanent representative of the international organisation to the United Nations Andrew Ambrose @ Atama said he fully supports such events, which plays a key role in keeping the original Dayak culture and its community intact.

Ambrose, who travelled from Sabah, asserts that tattoo festivals or body tattoos should be seen as something positive, not just for artists or those who have them inked on their body, but also employers and the general public.

“Our Dayak culture such as tattooing is a treasure and trademark for Sarawak and Malaysia. I would like to suggest for us to further study this tradition which was depicted through paintings by our ancestors and see how far it has spread around the world,” he added.

Those interested to get their tattoos done can also pay via e-wallet.

Meanwhile, tattoo enthusiasts or the public in general are invited to the festival, where they can watch the process of tattooing or even get themselves inked.

Other than tattoos, the three-day event will also highlight Dayak handicrafts, traditional rituals, ceremonies, food and drinks.

Entrance fee is RM10 per person. The event starts from 10am to 9pm. — DayakDaily

A wide variety of local handicrafts can be found and bought at the three-day festival.