Payae (Payel) Facial Tattoo


Chin Face Tattoo
People in Chin Hills used to have the custom of tattooing (Payae) the face of the women. Nobody is really sure how the custom became established, but a legend was that hundreds of years ago, Burmese kings and nobles used to come to Chin Hills and hunt for the beautiful Chin girls, as the fame of their beauty reached the court of Burma. To avoid their women being captured by the Burmese, they had no way but to destroy this beauty. This they done by tattooing the face of young girls.Although nobody could authenticate the validity of this story, many Chin girls, especially those from the North are indeed very beautiful.

As soon as a girl enters the age of puberty, tattoo is applied onto her face – the pattern of the tattoo being the one according to the race she belongs. Thus the facial tattoo of Mun is different from that of Dai. The process of facial tattooing is quite painful and dangerous. Some even died of infection. The practice has been outlawed since 1960s, but some still practiced until around 1980s. The youngest woman I had seen with a facial tattoo was 26 years old. The facial tattooing is no longer practiced anymore, even in the remotest areas of Chin Hills.