|Photo © Jake Verzosa. All Rights Reserved|
The Province of Kalinga is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the region of Luzon, and due to
its mountainous terrain and its warrior-culture, its inhabitants, also known as Kalingas, were able to maintain their traditions despite the attempted occupation of the Spaniards, Japanese, and Americans.
Jake Verzosa photographed the last few tattooed women of Kalinga in an effort to preserve this vanishing art through his photographs. For the women of Kalinga, tattoos are not cosmetic, but symbolize women’s strength and fortitude. This traditional tattoo are indigenous body art, and are still practiced following the ancient methods.
According to Wikipedia, the word "tattoo" was brought to Europe by the explorer James Cook, returning in 1771 from his first voyage to Tahiti and New Zealand. In his narrative of the voyage, he refers to an operation called "tattaw" or "tatau". Tattooing has been practiced for centuries in many cultures, particularly in Asia, and spread throughout the world. Japan, Taiwan, Berbers of North Africa, the Hausa people of Northern Nigeria, and Māori of New Zealand have facial tattoos.
For interesting photographs and the back story of the last tattooed women of Kalinga, drop by Verzosa's About page.
Jake Verzosa is a freelance photographer based in Manila. As a fashion and commercial photographer, he has also expanded his craft and traveled extensively around Southeast Asia. He considers his documentaries and portraits as his personal work. His works have been exhibited in Manila, Tokyo, Singapore, Amsterdam and Paris.