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



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.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Lost in translation: ‘Starvation’ in capital’s designated red zones

    “DACH bay” is a Khmer slang meaning a “loss of income”, that could also be literally translated to «deprived of rice”, which alludes to starvation. However, civil society organisation (CSO) officials have independently confirmed the government’s prior assertions that there are no cases of