Chin Lady with tattooed face

Facial Tattoo is traditionally practiced by Kcho ladies around Mindat, Kanpetlet , Asho Chin and the chin people from Arakan state.
 The chin people in Southern Chin Hills used to have the custom of tattooing on the face of the women (called by Burmese people Payae” ). This extraordinary custom began in the eleventh century when some young maiden girls tattooed, disfiguring their faces to protect them from slavery or capture by the ruling princes.
In north and central Chin state, there had been no practice of tattooing on their face. Only Mindat and other south Chin villages still maintain this tradition. Especially young women of the Munn tribe in Mt. Victoria region are keen to do this customs. Munn, Makang and Dai tribes each has different tattoo design. The pattern of the tattoo being the one according to the race she belongs. Thus the facial tattoo of Munn is different from that of Dai.

Munn’s tattoo is a line of small circles along the neck, straight lines making half moon shape for the cheeks.
Dai and Makang put a lot of dots all over the face. Dine females are also said that they used to be slaves and its evidence was a ring shaped tattoo around the ankles which they still have today.
 Another tribes of Chin group in Arakan state uses a spider-net pattern tattoos which are not found around Mindat.
The Chin Bon, Kcho chin and Layhtoo chin are the Southern Chin Clans, which are distinguished by different facial Tattoos, which consist of dots and lines.

In Mindat in western Myanmar, there are several different tribal groups that are famous for their facial tattoos. Kcho tribe women wearing various pattern of tattoo on their face and attractive amber necklaces.
As hill chin people, they have been isolated and to this day little is known of their animistic culture. The Chin are highly regarded as skilled hunters and weavers. Due to rugged terrain and near isolation, these tribes and villages have remained fairly untouched. Meet the gorgeous Kcho Chin women with their distinctive facial tattoos, hand woven textiles, silver belts and amber beads.

 A background history of facial tattoo

The Chin women are famed for their tattooed faces, a tradition that began when they put ink on their faces. The ink for facial tattoo is made from some special plans with dark green color and soot.
It is said by Kcho elder people that the purpose of tattooing is to avoid being chosen as concubines by the Burmese kings. Burmese kings and nobles used to come toChin 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.
The Chins have more than forty sub groups distinguished by their unique facial tattoos and customs. The customs of Tattooing originated almost a thousand years ago when neighbors men found of the pretty chin ladies so attractive and captured for slavery and wife.
Under that fear the chin women began to Tattoo their faces, both to make themselves unattractive, to protect from intruders for slavery and  to ensure that Chin Men would recognize them if they were captured and carried off. Tattooing the ladies nowadays becomes traditions of the Chin tribes.
As soon as a girl enters the age of puberty, tattoo is applied onto her face as they grow the design stretches across their faces creating different features, which closely resemble a spider web or a sunrise. The Chin women usually wears Traditional drum and shaped silver earrings.  

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 women with a facial tattoo are around 26 years old. The facial tattooing is no longer practiced anymore, even in the remotest areas of Chin Hills.
Among the ethnic chin tribes, ladies with tattoos on their faces are a unique sight of the Chin State. Those with unusual tastes should come to Chin State to get a memory for the life time.
The value of Facial Tattoo in Kcho society
In KCho Language, facial tattoo is called “Mang Gruke”. Mang means a sign good Luck or Richness. Gruke means “ They make themselves beautiful or They mark themselves. Thus , the kcho ladies believe that they are beautiful with these facial tattoo and they are very proud of themselves for wearing tattoo before kcho gentle men. The kcho elder used to give much favor to those kcho ladies with facial tattoo and take her for his wife but the kcho ladies without facial tattoo did not attain social acceptance. For this reason, kcho ladies in Mindat and Kanpetlet were keen to do this customs to attain social acceptance.
You can learn obviously what the difference is between the kcho ladies with facial tattoo and the ladies without facial tattoo. The Ladies with facial tattoo look younger than the ladies without facial tattoo when they are at the same age or they are getting old. That is the main difference and the benefit of facial tattoo. I personally find them, they are getting older, they are getting prettier.