Arts & Culture

In Photos: Matriarchal Facial Tattoos

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In Photos: Matriarchal Facial Tattoos

When there is too much beauty in the heart, it spills outward: in kind eyes and a smile, in a show of tradition or companionship – or in ink. Blue and faded, the Arab women embrace rural facial tattoos as a symbol of faith in all its forms. From sigils on the forehead and warded ill-will, to beatific religious dotting and astrological motifs, palm leaves are used to ink into skin and produce a vision for the “a waning matriarchy” that once flourished in the region.

These are some women who wear their hearts in ink.

Tunis facial tattoos Habiba
Tunis, Tunisia | Photo Credit: Yumna Al-Arashi
Tunis facial tattoos
Tunis, Tunisia | Photo Credit: Yumna Al-Arashi
Yumna told Al-Arashi that her tattoos represent her love and connection to the earth.
Morocco | Photo Credit: Yumna Al-Arashi
Algeria | Photo Credit: Yasmin Bendaas
berberwomen - Twitter Search / Twitter
Berber woman | Photo Credit: HuffPost
Turkey | Photo Credit: Chris Kaspar
The French photographer Marc Garanger’s 1960 portrait of a woman whose village was destroyed during Algeria’s war of independence.
1960 portraits of Algerian women | Photo Credit: Marc Garanger
ct-ent-1020-tattoo-field-museum
1960 portraits of Algerian women | Photo Credit: Marc Garanger

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With a heart for radio and an appetite for culture, Mona is a writer and illustrator based in Cairo. At the Erasmus University Rotterdam, she obtained a BSc and MA in Media, Culture, and Society, while actively writing for the faculty magazine. After graduating, Mona was an academic advisor at the American University in Cairo, as well as Managing Director of a small, campus-based advertising firm. Gears shifting, her knack for cultural research took over - enter: Egyptian Streets. Mona’s focus is tapered to issues of identity politics, culture, and social architecture.

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