Body art and artists abound worldwide but the art of tattoo in Southeast Asia, especially in Burma, encompasses ritual as well as decoration. Tattoos covering the body from the upper thighs to the feet were an essential component of attaining manhood, warding off evil, protecting a warrior in battle or aiding in courting. The ritual was performed by a village medicine man, using a long tattoo needle to apply traditional indigo ink or natural vermillion.
This rare tattoo book, from the mid-to-late 19th century, is known as a parabaik (pronounced "para bike"). The tattoo artist would keep a book of designs and notes describing the tattoos for the young men requesting tattoos. It contains sacred symbols of the zodiac and mythology, as well as numerology and sacred Buddhists texts.
Mid-late 19th C.
The book is made of charcoal coated mulberry paper with white steatite crayon. Archival framed artwork, using acid-free backing and spacers, in a black wood frame with plexiglass.”
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