Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A celebration of art on skin

A celebration of art on skin

Olivier de Bernon, author of Yantra et Mantra, will be speaking on Cambodian ritual tattooing on Saturday February 6 as part of the French Institute’s upcoming exhibition Adorned Body, Transformed Body. The exhibition – first shown at the Perfume Museum in Grasse, southern France – charts the complex and varied history of make-up, body paint, tattoos, piercing and other bodily transformations around the world.

According to Gregory Couderc, one of the exhibition’s co-curators, the magical function of bodily adornment no longer plays a role in Western countries. “In the Occident, tattoos are more or less devoid of magic, even though they may well have emotional significance for the wearer,” he explained via email. “The aesthetics of the pattern outweigh the profound meaning.”

But he said that Southeast Asia was by no means the only place where spirituality and superstition played a part in getting inked: in Papau New Guinea, the Iatmul ethnic group perform scarification during a coming-of-age ritual that mimics the scales of the crocodile god, and in India and the Maghreb, kohl make-up is believed to protect against evil attacks.

And in Europe, Couderc pointed out, tattoos continue to act as important social signifiers, particularly for communicating sub-culture affiliation among punks and goths. The same is true the world over: in New Zealand and Polynesia, tattoos are strictly coded in ways that announce social hierarchies.

Couderc said that while “borrowing” between cultures had always existed, globalisation had accentuated this trend. “In passing from one civilisation to another, bodily markers lose their traditional significance, their magic, as well as the beliefs that surround them,” he wore. “Only the aesthetic persists.”

Adorned Body, Transformed Body opens at the French Institute, #218 Street 184, on Thursday, January 28.

0

Comments

Please, login or register to post a comment

Latest Video

Phnom Penh eats: Homegrown veggies at Bayon Beoung Snor

​Nestled along National Road 1, Bayon Beoung Snor is a farm-cum-restaurant. The team grows their own vegetables, which they then use to whip up traditional Khmer food.

Bill Clough reflects on The Phnom Penh Post's 25 year history

The Post's publisher Bill Clough, under whose leadership the publication went from a fortnightly to a daily one, discusses his investment in Cambodia, his vision for the paper in an increasingly digital age,

NEC officials tally votes during a recount last week in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia’s National Election Committee last week rejected 33 of 61 complaints filed over the conduct of June 4’s commune election, according to a s

People search for their names on the voter lists at a polling station in Kampong Cham’s Veal Vong commune earlier this month.

Four years ago, when the opposition snatched Kampong Cham away from the ruling party in 2013 national elections, it hinted at a deeper shift taking