Enigmatic Geometric Tattoos of the Butbut of Kalinga, Philippines

  • Ma. Louise Antonette N. De Las PeñasEmail author
  • Analyn Salvador-Amores
The Mathematical Tourist Ma. Louise Antonette N. De las Peñas, Editor
There is an outpouring of local and foreign tourists flocking to the remote village of Buscalan in Tinglayan, Southern Kalinga, a mountainous region of the Cordillera located in Northern Luzon, Philippines. The main purpose of their visit is to get batók—traditional tattoos, which are permanent inscriptions embedded in the skin—from Whang-ud Oggay, the ninety-year-old tattoo practitioner whose story has left a mark on everyone who has heard it. To reach the village of Whang-ud, you will have to undertake an arduous journey: ten hours from Metro Manila (capital region of the Philippines) to Bontoc, three hours from Bontoc to Kalinga, one hour by motorbike, and another hour of trekking to reach the village of Buscalan, where the Butbut community reside (see Figure  1 for a map).



The authors would like to thank the people of Butbut in Tinglayan, Kalinga, for their warmth and hospitality. The photographs were taken by Analyn Salvador-Amores during her anthropological fieldwork in Kalinga. The illustrations of traditional tattoos of the Butbut are based on her field notes. The authors are grateful to Eduard Taganap, who created new renditions of the illustrations.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ma. Louise Antonette N. De Las Peñas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Analyn Salvador-Amores
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsAteneo de Manila UniversityQuezon CityPhilippines
  2. 2.Department of Social Anthropology and PsychologyUniversity of the Philippines BaguioBaguio CityPhilippines

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