Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Borneo Flower (Bunga Terung of Borneo)

Borneo, Land of the Hornbills is also well known for its Tattoos as well. There are lots of different tribes and all tribes have their own style of tattoos. One of the famous tribe in Borneo is called "Iban" or also known as The Head Hunters and they have all kinds of tattoo design patterns evolve from animals and plants. 

I am honoured to have a pair of Bunga Terung on my own body even though I'm a Chinese boy. We are proud to be a Sarawakian and I have all the respect to the Iban culture and heritage. The pair of Bunga Terung is not a decoration on my body because it symbolizes a coming of age tattoo which marks the journey of teenage boy turning to his adulthood/manhood. Nevertheless, it is also a symbol of protection. 

There are lots of people out there having this tattoo without knowing the meaning and they split the pattern and placed it on the wrong areas of their body. I would appreciate those who are going to have the Authentic Borneo Tattoos on them, to further understand the meaning of the patterns and embrace and pass down the right story to others. This is the only way we can preserve the Authentic Borneo Tattoos and Heritage. 

Allow me to share some information on this unique pattern from the Iban. The direct translation of the The BungaTerung, means eggplant flower.  This design is the first tattoo a Borneo male would receive. The Bunga Terung pattern can be placed on the back, buttocks, shoulders or chest. It should never be done singularly because this is to ensure protection for both sides of the body. 

The spiral at the center of the Bunga Terung is known as the Tali Nyawa (which means the rope of life) symbolizes the person’s life force.  And there are some villages say that it originally came from the spirals on the belly of tadpoles which symbolizes the beginning of a new life.

As to the number of petals; whilst the wearer may be from any ofthe Iban or Dayak tribes, different villages would have slightly different designs. Or some will say the petals surrounding the Tali Nyawa symbolizes Strength and Power.

In simple term, the beliefs of the Bunga Terung is supposed to guard the wearer from evil spirits. 

Traditional Hand Tapped - Bunga Terung
Jeremy a.k.a. Bunga Terung and Baxx (Stretcher) from 
Monkey Tattoo Studio

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HI, ernesto, i first learned about who you guys were and some vague history of the iban tattoos and their meanings on the show tabboo.
I am only 14 but this has interested me greatly. specifically the bunga terung, and its meaning. i did find out that it can mean the levels of patience a single person may have. i would enjoy more information on the subject, and any corrections. i would like to draw it or even get one someday but i feel it would be disrespectful to your culture if i did not know the proper meaning. thank you for any help i look forward to your response.