The Vanishing Tattoo

Journey deep into the jungles of Borneo in search of the last few remaining traditional Iban tattoo artists, in a daring attempt to help the Iban keep their ancient practises alive.

Produced by NHNZ

Not long ago, most Iban people in Borneo were elaborately decorated with boldly designed tattoos depicting the story of their life experiences. Today, among younger generations, there is little evidence of the traditional art.

In what little tattooing remains, the ancient tattooing method of hand-tapping has been replaced with electric machines and the spiritual and personal images have been replaced by western designs.

Join renowned Canadian tattoo artist Tom Lockhart, and writer and historian of tattoo lore Vince Hemingson, on a gruelling journey deep into the jungle to meet the remaining Iban tattoo artists living in remote parts of Borneo.

The Vanishing Tattoo follows the tattoo hunters on their arduous quest along the Skrang River, once known as the River of Death and home to Borneo’s fiercest headhunters, in an attempt to document the ancient practises and keep the traditional methods alive for future generations, before they vanish forever.

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