What is prePhilippine Hand-tapped Tattoos? Batok/Fatek/Burik/Tatak/Batek/Patik/Batuk - are all terms for prePhilippine Hand-tapped Tattoos or Ancestral Skin Markings in different Philippine languages. The markings are done by using bone/wood implements and ink, which are used to “tap” the designs into the skin.
How does a batok differ from mainstream tattoos? What is the cultural significance?
Batok is a prePhilippine hand-tapped tattoo practice. Unlike mainstream or machine tattoos, A practitioner uses and makes the ancestral implements [tools that have been created by hand by the practitioner using natural materials] to create skin markings.
Traditionally, you as the recipient do not choose the design and/or the placement. In prePhilippine society, your tattoos served as your identifier. It also may tell others about your family history and where your family comes from in the Philippine archipelago. Our markings are mnemonic devices of our oral histories, and our stories.
I’ve seen Filipino tattoo designs in shops. Why do your patterns not look like that?
Filipino inspired designs that are found in tattoo shops are the artistic expressions of the tattoo artist. It looks aesthetically pleasing but is more than likely not "purely" Filipino.
More often than not, these designs also contain various motifs from across the Pacific Islands, especially Polynesia.
However, due to Manong Lane's work (which is rooted in over 30 years of research), the designs are culturally rooted from our archipelago and may not match what you expect a Filipino tattoo to look like.