Hey Bali visitors and the rest,

Have you been glued to a surfboard (righteous, broheem!) orrr a screen for most of 2018 (sorry to hear that, but same here and 2019 promises to be better. Then this may come as a surprise.

We’re proud to share something that most of Asia and maybe the world already knows:

Indonesian heritage tattooing customs are not going to fade away and die. Not today, not yet. The Pantang Iban Revival is happening right now and it’s awesome. Through some mystical power or social media link, it’s probably what brought you to this blog post.

Hand-tapped Dayak tattoos by Hends Dyak.

Dayak Tattoos

Of all the indigenous groups making tattoos by hand for generations in Borneo, Indonesia, one tribe has been featured dominantly in English language media for decades – Iban Headhunters. 

Heard that phrase before, right? Perhaps that’s why getting bunga terong markings or other Bornean tattoo designs hasn’t become as mainstream as other (more inviting) Asian tattoo experiences. 

Where to get Tribal Dayak Hand Tapping

Option A:

Go to a shaman in Kalimantan (Borneo) or Mentawai with a guide.

Sofi Chi on location courtesy of Balm Tattoo Indonesia.

Tattoo model Sofi Chi did exactly that. In November 2018, Balm Tattoo Indonesia invited her to travel from Bali, the equatorial beach tourist haunt where she and the Balm ID team are based, to a remote Sumatran archipelago for a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a local shaman.

“That was a mission”

Tribal Tattoo Hand Tapping Ritual in Mentawai

Produced by Bali High Media for Balm Tattoo Indonesia. Shared by Tattlas with permission.
Dragon's Blood Butter

What is Dragon’s Blood Butter?

Tattoo artists in Bali: you need this. Before, we only knew this BALM TATTOO product for its alluring packaging. There is so much more to like.


@sofi_chi So how it was?!?! ~ It was good, interesting, sometimes very intense for me, and with a little bit drama ~ like in a real adventure movie! ?? That was a mission ~ photo and video shooting for @balm_tattoo @balmtattooindo ? I was surrounded by a company of gentlemen and real professionals @oskarmunar @balihighmedia @jalantiku ?? About a day and a half we traveled to the village with a tribal people, with one transfer on an airplane and two boats, then we walked knee-deep in the mud, met wild boars on the way, ? and finally reached the village. ☀️??? Here we are faced with reality and expectations.. A group of Japanese tourists came just before us and we could not stay in the village, as there were no space for our team. ? The next night we spent in a nearby village in the house of local residents. There were also invited shamans who gave me my “sacral” tattoo. So now a little drama story.. The shamans arrived a few hours later and, of course, they did not speak English. Our translator was so ~ so with English too. ??‍♀️ The sad thing is that I did not manage to feel the magic of the process, as we were all very tired and needed to shoot a video as soon as possible. So the shaman was confused too, and I had to paint a tattoo sketch for myself… ??‍♀️??‍♀️??‍♀️ Little ethnic sun.☀️ We did it painfully and quickly, but the lines was skewed, and since I was very tired, I was upset that there was no magic, and the tattoo curve came out ~ I cried all night, lying on the floor.. ??? All the next day I didn’t talk to my companions, going throu the strong emotional outrage.⚡️??? On the last day of our adventure, the clouds parted and it became sunny and light at heart again. ?❤️☀️ Later, I realized why it all happened that way. I always told my friends that I am my own shaman and healer and magic is inside, so my skepticism about the other shamans simply projected this situation in reality. ??‍♀️?✨ If you want to meet miracles you must believe in it.☝?And one more thought, since I called myself a shaman I put meaning of “Enlightenment” in my tattoo! My very own magic. ??☀️? The End! Photo by @jalantiku ?

In absolute admiration of this mega-babe tattoo model, our gut feeling tells us it’s probably worthwhile to try to copy anything or everything Sofi Chi does.

Sofi’s in good company among celebrities who’ve famously gotten handmade tattoos in the dangerous jungles of Borneo; Anthony Keidis of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chef Anthony Bourdain, RIP. If your name is Tony, then this is definitely the way to go.

Good luck finding a guide and enjoy the ride.

Option B:

Go to Hends Dyak in Bali.

Something this popular among local industry experts has gotta be good.

The Bali Tattoo Artist Tattooing the Others

In November 2018, Hends Dyak tattooed two Bali tattoo artists who are originally from Kalimantan (Borneo) like him.

Face to face with Hends Dyak, finally!

After months of anticipation, we’ve finally befriended Mr. In-Demand and got our interview.

TATTLAS:  How are you? Can I ask you about your recent work for the guys at Due Hatue Tattoo Studio? I know Fuad as @fuu.ttt on Instagram. What’s his twin’s name? Sod-dog? He has @sod.the.dog and @sdgttt for his trad tattoos.

HENDS DYAK:  Good to meet you too. Yes, I’m happy to be part of the Tattlas blogs. Shiddiq (real name Sodog).*

TATTLAS:  What is the meaning of these neck tattoos?

HD:  Pantang Rekung / Uker degok is an Iban tattoo design placed on the throat of Iban men for identification and to distinguish between upstream – downstream Iban or between other Iban and Dayaks during tribal war or head hunting. 

TATTLAS: How long did it take? 

HD: 3 hours maximum. 

*TATTLAS days later:  By the way he’s called Soddog… real name Shiddiq. 

As a generalization, Dayak tattoos historically symbolized achievements for warriors, hunters and artisans.



A real local expert on Indonesian hand tapping, someone should write a book called ‘Herpianto Hendra “Hends Dyak” and the Pantang Iban Revival.’ 

Hends is an authority on traditional hand tapping, spiritual Dayak symbolism and Indonesian tribal heritage and culture. He has appeared in several international publications and is a celebrity guest at worldwide tattoo expos.

Seminyak, Bali > Hends Dyak

All Studios and Artists

Need some help? Ask Ningsi now.
Good Idea

I want to be featured!

Great idea. Join TATTLAS now as a tattoo studio or artist and add your artwork for free.

Thanks for checking us out!

If you like this post, please share it or leave a comment. As always, we appreciate your feedback and want to know if there’s anything we could improve upon.