The Tattoed Lady

Meet the last Kalinga tattoo artist, Whang Od

Meet Whang Od. She lives in the Philippines and is the last master of the art of traditional, hand-tapped Filipino tattoos.

Whang Od is turning 102 years old (born February 17, 1917, she was 93 during this documentary) and her body is adorned with snakes and millipedes.

She is the last practitioner of a very special art form – and all she needs for this art form, are charcoal, water, a dash of sugar cane juice for shine, and the thorns of the orange tree, which she uses as needles.

She’s highly sought after by young people around the world.

The film accompanies Charly and Egan, two brave young men who have travelled to the remote village Buscalan to meet Whang Od. ‘Some wet their pants because they’re so scared,’ says Whang Od and laughs.

Even getting to the village she lives in is a challenge: a narrow path leads through the jungle, deep down into a canyon and finally up into the mountains.

“You can fly to the Moon, but you can’t build a road to Buscalan,” say the people in Kalinga province, a region more remote and unexplored than any other in the country.

DW Documentary reporter Philipp Abresch took the trek upon himself – with the help of twenty-five porters.

The Tattoed Lady
  • Info
  • Release date2016
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Philipp Abresch
  • Production companyCattle C. Studios