Extracts from the Book
PAGE 46-48
Sacrifice for Status
The facial nerves are considered to be among the most sensitive receptors of the human body. Being treated with spiky thorns or needles can, therefore, cause excruciating pain.

Chin girls who endured the painful ritual of facial tattooing enjoy therefore higher social status in the heirachy of their group because they have proven to be mentally and physically stronger.

In general, finding a hasband does not pose a problem for the tattooed women and girls as Chin men have always been attracted to the strongest features female in their clan. At least this is waht I have been told by Chin Men.

Lest you think all the women have high pain thresholds, there are those in the tattoo-practising Chin group who could not bear to go on with the ritual. I have seen women with only a single short line on their forehead - evidence of their incomplete attempt to go thro the tattooing process because they could no longer tolerate the pain.

"Sometimes," I was told, so called "helpers" had to hold the body of a girl down as she convoluted in agony. One of the eldest women in Chaung Nar village remembered "being wrapped in bamboo so I couldn't move during the tattooing session", the session took hours.