A portrait of Whang Od - considered as the last “mambabatok” or tattoo master in the Philippines. For over 8 decades, she has been single-handedly keeping the Kalinga tribe tradition alive through hand-tap tattooing.
Her body is covered with tattoos symbolic of the Igorot warriors. 5 tattoo symbols are featured on the painting that can also be found on Whang Od’s skin. Each symbol carries a deeper meaning that makes that tattoo special. The sun and moon symbolizes life. The snake’s skin is for safety. The shieldladder is to reach the heavens. The snake stands for health and good fortune. The centipede symbolizes the spiritual messenger.
The local colors found on this painting are also a tribute to the Philippines flag.