When visiting Sabah, one way to commemorate your visit is to maybe get a tattoo. Originally, tattoos were seen mostly on the Murut and Dusun people.

Back then Borneo traditional tattooing involves hand tapping with two sticks which take hours to complete. Among the tribes in Borneo, tattooing is mainly associated with headhunting as a visible sign of success and it symbolizes their social status. Warriors would receive tattoos only after killing a foe as a mark of victory. It was a “rites of passage” and next to blackened teeth and long ear-lobes, intricate tattoos on fingers, hands, lower arms, thighs, calves, and feet served as an important element of beauty for women.

When designing a traditional Bornean tattoo, nature element is the main focus such as leaves, branches, trees, etc. The most common designs are those thick black tribal ones which all have different meanings to them.

Images by Hello Sabah, Uncharted Backpacker