Jake Verzosa | The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga
During the last Paris Photo we had the chance to see the work of Jake Verzosa and his tattooed women of Kalinga, a landlocked province of the Philippines in the region of Luzon.
Photographer Jake Verzosa had his first encounter with a tattooed woman of Kalinga when he was a child:
“I spent my childhood in Tuguegarao, and I remember seeing a tattooed woman for the first time outside school. I had been told by my classmates not to talk to them because they were headhunters. It remained a mystery for me,” he recalled.
The Kalinga are from the region of Luzon in the Philippines. They live in an isolated mountainous terrains and have a warrior-culture. They were able to maintain their traditions despite the attempted occupation of the Spaniards, Japanese, and Americans.
Verzosa wanted to document this vanishing culture through his photographs. Like other indigenous body art, the tattoos of the women of Kalinga are not cosmetic, but symbolize women’s strength and fortitude and they are still practiced following the ancient methods.
The project took Verzosa about 3 three years. He started after college as his interest was rekindled after seeing images from one of his friend travels.
“I would take time away from work to go up to Kalinga. I wanted to document the disappearing traditions and practices in my region. I think it’s necessary to be doing this,” he explained.
Jake is also publishing his first book, “The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga”, where he has put together the images of 40 tattooed women.
Jake Verzosa (b. 1979, Philippines) is a freelance photographer based in Manila. His work as a fashion and commercial photographer has given him a chance to expand his craft and has taken him to outside destinations around the region. He has traveled extensively around Southeast Asia and considers his documentaries and portraits as his personal work. His works have been exhibited in Asia and Europe.