Documenting Tribal History, Culture and Tattoo Tradition
Fade Meraki has tattooed worldwide, studying and documenting both tattooing and tattoo anthropology in remote tribal cultures.
Over many years through interviews, film, photography and other mediums, Fade has documented the cultural significance, purpose, symbolism, and history of traditional tattoo art among isolated tribes in Borneo, West Sumatra, Easter Island and Tahiti.
She is the only European tattoo artist trained in the ancient art of hand tap tattooing which she learned while living with the Iban head-hunter tribes in Sarawak, Borneo.
This year she is releasing a book documenting her world travels, focussing on tattoo anthropology and specifically the tattoo art of traditional tribes.
Read more about her research and expeditions below.
The Eternal Clothing Podcast Series
Through a series of interviews with tribal leaders, headhunters, tattooists and historians, Meraki uncovers hidden meanings, origins and the cultural significance of tattoos.
Volunteering as a guest tattoo artist for Sea Shepherd at their tattoo studio HQ in Amsterdam, Fade Meraki interviewed Artistic Director and tattooist of 25 years Geert Vons, to discuss how art can play a vital supporting role to activism on the frontline of global marine conservation.
Sea Shepherd enforce existing international conservation laws, supplying their own crew and ships in assistance of coast guards, local authorities and legal bodies with the power to make necessary arrests, combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing all over the world.
Living among the Shamen of the Mentawai Tribe in West Sumatra Indonesia, Fade Meraki’s research captured their traditions, practices and way of life as they face the environmental and cultural impact of unrestrained encroachment by modern society
In addition to her time in Borneo and West Sumatra, Fade Meraki completed a voluntary role on a two-month long sailing expedition crossing the South Pacific with an all-female crew with eXXpedition, an environmental NGO combating micro plastics in the world’s oceans.
Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
Easter Island, or Rapa Nui is famous for the Moai standing sculptures.
Recent excavations have uncovered full bodies hidden beneath the enigmatic faces which look to the far horizon, exposing intricate carvings of tattoos adorning their backs.
Seeking to discover the cultural tattoo history of the region first hand, Fade Meraki interviewed the only ‘bloodline’ tattooist in Rapa Nui and discussed the origins and meanings behind traditional designs resurrected from the island’s ancient stone carvings.
Living with indigenous communities in Borneo, Fade Meraki was mentored in the practice of traditional hand tapped tattooing by tribal elders.
Her expeditions were the subject of a documentary depicting the process and significance of tattoo art among tribal cultures, including the role tattooing plays in conveying identity, status, storytelling and more.