Whang-Od is the 100 year old tattoo artist and the only traditional Kalinga tattooist left in the world. This tattoo veteran works and lives in the Kalinga province, Philippines. Tattooed by her father when she was 12 years old. Whang-Od is certainly covered in body art
Whang-Od learnt to master the craft by tattooing head hunters over almost a century. Headhunting has ceased a long time ago but she continues to tattoo. A hand tapping technique called “batok” is used by her and Whang-Od uses a pomelo thorn and bamboo. The ink is a mixture of charcoal and water. The sound of Whang-Od’s hammering of her bamboo mallet on a stick with a razor-sharp thorn dipped in ink on the skin is becoming music to the ears.
Just getting to visit Whang-Od is an adventure. Many people hike up steep heights and narrow paths. People from all over the world come to get inked by Whang-Od. The living legend is well respected and we found a lot of amazing artwork dedicated to the last traditional Kalinga tattooist in the world. If on your bucket list is to meet this woman and be tattooed by the last living Mambabatok before it’s too late, do it now!