A photographic book and video documentary of the disappearing culture of facial tattoos among the Lai Tu Chin people of Myanmar.
About this project
Hmäe Sün Näe Ti Cengkhü Nu is the first book to tell the stories of the Lai Tu Chin culture and its tattoo-faced ladies. It preserves the dying culture of the Lai Tu Chin people by recording and photographically recreating scenes of their lives and history. It also contains dozens of portraits of the tattoo-faced women of the tribe and the tales they shared with me.
Why Our Project is Important
Until now, there has been no other record of the Lai Tu Chin traditions and culture. This book gives not only the world, but the Lai Tu Chin people a look into their culture like never before. With the Myanmar government’s efforts to homogenise the country, much of the Lai Tu Chin culture was lost or made illegal. Many of their cultural artefacts were either sold off or stolen, and important traditions like the tattoo making process are no longer practised. The still living generations who received the tattoos are the last who will have them. This book preserves what is left of their disappearing culture.
Lai Tu Chin women had their faces tattooed in the past as a coming-of-age mark, and a sign that they belonged to the tribe. This practise was carried out on girls, usually before they reached puberty, and was considered a mark of beauty. The book records these ladies experiences, memories and current opinions on the now extinct practise.
Right now, the Lai Tu people are living in an under-developed part of Myanmar with limited access to education and basic necessities. Due to a lack of infrastructure, they face difficulty improving their own situation through practical methods that have worked in the past.
Why We Need You
Now that our design is complete and we have the test print in our hands, we are looking to fund our first print run. Our goal has always been to provide this book as a historical record to those we have worked with. You contribution will make this possible. We will also be able to then distribute this book through our channels in Myanmar – and proceeds from those sales will go towards providing clean drinking water and education for the Lai Tu Chin people in Rakhine State. We would like to make the book available by October of this year, and need your support to make a large print run.
Who We Are
We are Seoul-based design, photography, and videography team comprising of Dylan Goldby, Pablo Fuentes Gómez, and Wesley Chang. We’re passionate about our craft, and the good that we are able to do in the world using it. We firmly believe that the past is important in shaping the future, and we should all have the chance to learn about our history and the history of others. The world is changing, but we can provide the means to share where it came from through our arts.
Risks and challenges
Our content is completely finished, and our test prints have been done with our local printer in Seoul. They are ready to go at a moment’s notice, and just need a green light from us. We have taken care to make sure that everything is ready to go, and now we simply need to make our order.