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These Are The Stories From The Last Tattooed Women Of The Tharu Tribe In Nepal

Sex slavery and cultural pressure are behind the ancient body art.

Designer Omar Reda has documented the beautiful tattoos seen on elderly women of the Tharu Tribe in a village in Chitwan, Nepal, along with the extraordinary stories behind the body art.

Reda visited the Tharu Tribe in the Nepalese town of Chitwan, when his planned trip to Tibet fell through after his visa application was rejected. The unplanned trip to the tribe led to Reda’s discovery of the fascinating tattooed women, along with the stories they told him.

One of the stories behind the tattoos relates to the 240-year-reign of the Kingdom of Nepal, which ended in 2008, when the royal family visited the Chitwan area in the summer months. The family would take girls from the tribe as sex slaves. To stop the abductions the women of the tribe started to tattoo themselves, which the royal men considered an unattractive deformity.

 

Another story told to Reda was that it was culturally compulsory for women of the tribe to be tattooed, and that without the tattoos the women would be ostracised from the community and not allowed to talk to or marry anyone in the tribe.

Reda told Akita that despite not having a tattoo himself he loved the women’s tattoos because “everything related to art is interesting for me.”

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Akita was granted permission to use images by Omar Reda.

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