With tattoos covering her face in the name of enchantment, this Burmese woman bearing these traditional marks is one of the last of her kind. The elderly woman lives in the Chin state in the remote northwest of Burma, now military-dominated Myanmar, where being tattooed was once a rite of passage for young ethnic minority Chin women.
Since ancient times, the women were willing to endure pain and sacrifice their blood for beauty, and for them beauty meant power – the power of seduction. When they die, the tradition will die with them.
The beautiful photograph is one of a host of enchanting images capturing the faces of the world by photographer David Lazar, who has traveled to remote locations in the name of art.
A tattooed woman in Myanmar (Burma). The practice of tattooing the faces of women in the Chin state has now come to an end, with only a few last remaining generations of tattooed ladies existing todayTwo brothers in rural Myanmar sit on the back of a buffalo owned by their family. They ride on the back of the buffaloes when taking them out into the fields for workBurmese Fishermen on Inle Lake: The fisherman of this region have a unique rowing technique, where they stand on the stern on one leg and wrap the other leg around the oar allowing for fine paddle control
Travel photographer Mr Lazar, 29, from Brisbane, Australia, took his pictures while traveling south Asia and Africa.
One of his most startling images is one of a young girl whom he spotted playing in a Bangladeshi village. Sensing she would make a good subject, Mr Lazar introduced himself to her family and with their blessing returned the next day to capture her stunning portrait.
Explaining how he came across the Bangladeshi girl Tuly, he said: ‘I only wanted a quiet moment to sit down and rest after a day of exploring and meeting people in a small rural town in Bangladesh.’
‘I sat down on a grassy hill which overlooked a group of small houses, where the neighbors were outdoors talking and playing games together. It might have only been about 30 seconds until I started to attract a crowd.’
‘So when I realized that I was going to be the new center of attention I got up and started to interact, and joined in a ball game that was going on.’
Stunning: A girl with green eyes wearing a headscarf in Putia, a Bangladeshi villageInnocence fading: The grinding poverty of a young boy smoking as he picks through rubbish to survive in BangladeshA Vietnamese Boatman: An old and cheerful boatman paddles through the waterways of Hoi An, Vietnam
‘People were unafraid to use their broken English and ask me lots of questions. The sun had set and the light was getting low, so I knew that photos would be out of the question, but I saw a girl in the group who really caught my eye.’
‘She was wearing a bright green t-shirt with a large red circle on it, the Bangladeshi flag, and she had strong green eyes that matched her shirt. I knew she’d make a great subject for a portrait photo.’
He returned the following afternoon and her older sister Duly, who spoke some English, acted as a translator.
Mr Lazar added: ‘I was invited into their house to meet the family and was brought tea as well as a present in the form of a notepad. Tuly took me on a tour to see her bedroom, which was well decorated and filled with artworks that she had created. She had told me she wanted to be an artist.’
Two young Burmese girls peer around a doorway: One of them has white paint on her face and wears pink lipstickBest of friends: Two students of a Madrasah Islamiah in Srimangal, take some time out of their studies and play in the field next to their mosqueHis other images capture the Maasai in Kenya and three Burmese fishermen on Inle Lake demonstrating their unique rowing technique. This involves one man standing on the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar, allowing for fine paddle control.
This way they can precisely steer around thick vegetation which often appears on the lake. It also keeps one hand free for using nets. One moving image shows a boy who leads a very different life from most children his age. The Bangladeshi child is without a home, family or basic care and education.
He collects and sorts rubbish to survive. Other young friends his age sort the rubbish with him and have become his new family.
Seven young monks sit on a log nearby their monastery in Yangon. The novice monks all grow up together in their monastery, forming a brotherhood of close connectionsHe is captured by the docks of the Buriganga River in Dhaka smoking while sat in the dirt. In worlds apart, a brighter image shows two brothers in rural Myanmar sitting on the back of a buffalo owned by their family.
They ride on the back of the buffaloes when taking them out into the fields for work. On the morning the picture was taken, the two boys were coming back in from the fields, and then got ready to go to school on a shared bike.
Seven young monks sitting on a log nearby their monastery in Yangon, Burma, shows the novice monks having formed a brotherhood. They all grow up together in their monastery and eat, pray, become educated, play and live together, and for potentially decades they form a new family.
Mr Lazar said he likes to capture scenes that defy time. He said: ‘I am drawn to subjects that do not reflect the modern world – I like to capture scenes that could have been taken 100 years ago.’
Flying Novice: A Burmese monk flies through the air on a piece of bamboo in Mruak UBeauty: The girl with the green eyes was spotted playing in a Bangladeshi village by a travel photographer
‘Subjects like Buddhist monks or scenes from rural Bangladesh are appealing to me as they do not reflect Western life – but rather something that has a “land before time” feel to it. I find this type of subject interesting as it is very different from my usual life in Australia and I enjoy capturing and sharing these scenes of the world that most people don’t get to see.’
He added: ‘I especially love portrait photos, and capturing expressive, unique and powerful faces that evoke a sense of emotion in the viewer. In order to photograph people I think it is important to smile, engage and show interest in the subject.’
‘If I interact with people and try to use phrases in their language, or comment on what they are doing through gesture and just be open and sincere this can go a long way in gaining trust and eventually a photograph.’
‘I think it’s all about making the process feel fun and lighthearted so that people can relax and enjoy being a part of it.’
- Art Meets Culture: Photographs Of Children From Around The World (kolorblindmag.com)
- Art Meets Culture: Art Basel 2012, Miami Beach (kolorblindmag.com)
- Chin National Day Set to Become State Holiday (irrawaddy.org)
- Would You Get a Tattoo on Your Hand? (bellasugar.com)
- tattoo nation: modern social expression rooted in tribal art history (shaunaleelange.com)
- Burma’s Asean Agenda (irrawaddy.org)
- Burma – An Unlikely Art Destination (forbes.com)
- Myanmar Welcomes Obama With Graffiti (abcnews.go.com)
- The Tale of the Lucky Seven (littlemisadventure.wordpress.com)