Tattoo in Kurdish culture

Najah Ibrahim

Like all forms of folklore, the role of women is prominent in the subject of tattoos. In our Kurdish tradition, these tattoos were done by our ancestors. When one looks at the hands and faces of women, one sees that they have tattooed with great skill.

Which part of women's bodies were tattooed?

Tattoos were done on the hands and all fingers of women, behind the ears (the part that separates ears and hair), on the chin, on the lower lip, between the eyebrows, on the cheeks, on women's chests, both sides of the nose, and on the neck of women, and these were generally for beautifying.

Men were also sometimes tattooed behind the ears and on their hands, some for decorating and some for headaches and to relax tattooed behind the ears. Women who had not had children for a long time and who had children after a long time also tattooed on the lower and right cheeks, on the nose, and chin of the baby, intended to bless and save the child.

How and what were the tattoos done with?

They used the blackness around the pot and the milk of mothers whose child was a girl. Then they mixed the blackness, the milk, and a potion called Hash (which was blue). Then they would use seven sewing needles. When they put their mixture where they wanted to tattoo the spot, they put the needle there until it became a wound. The blackness, the milk, and the hash filled the wound. After a few days or weeks, the tattoos would appear.

What color were those patterns?

The patterns included "dots, sketches, and stars". The images of two deer were also tattooed on the women's chests. The men's tattoos were also done in a circular shape behind the ears and on their hands.

Who was doing the tattoos?

Like knitting, tattoos have an aesthetic template, so they require knowledge. The people doing tattoos were knowledgeable, mostly older women. Especially in Kobani in the past, the gypsies came to the villages and tattooed women (they were women). It was rarely done by the older men of the area, and if it was done, it was not done for women.

Today's tattoos:

Over time, the style of tattoos has also changed. In the past, women used to do tattoos, but nowadays both women and men do it, but not in the way of our old traditions, but in a new way and according to foreign traditions, for decoration. Anyone can do tattoos what pattern they like and where they want to do. Girls do star tattoos on the sides of their necks. In the present time, a new device has been invented especially for tattoos. In other words, the art of tattoo has been modernized and it is not the same as it used to be. The methods and materials for doing tattoos are also not the same as before.

 

Sources:

- Two women from Kobani; Mawlid Ibrahim and Amina Alo.

- A speaker named Hanif Ismat, from Kobani.

- Photo: Instagram, Kurdkhana and Merdin.

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