Tattoo on Women
Women of the Yi ethnic group usually wear several to a dozen tattoo-like pea-sized dark blue spots or scars on each arm, done by inserting a self-made mixture of white wax, ay tsao leaves and a special liquid into the skin with needles. The Yi people call this “mantsa”, equivalent to the meaning of tattoo. It was a popular custom for the Yi women to wear such tattoos in ancient China, as recorded in Recordings of Nine Prefectures (Jiu Zhou Yao Ji, 九州要记) that there was an ethnic group in Yuesui who wore dragon scale shaped tattoos on arms. There are few women bearing such tattoos nowadays. It was believed that in the netherworld tattoo bearers would be able to exchange every single tattoo pattern on them for an ingot of ten taels, quite a large amount in ancient China.
Quote from page 33 in A Research Report on the Yi People in Xikang by Zhuang Xueben


  • Title: Woman with Tattooed Arms in Yanyuan
  • Date: Republic of China (1912-1949 AD)
  • Original Source: http://www.biftmuseum.com/
  • Ethnic group: Yi

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