Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The Ukok Plateau:  
Where four countries merge in remote Asia, the Ukok Plateau, on the Golden Mountains of Altai, have now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for the important finding of ancient grave sites containing frozen mummies, displaying dramatic tattoos.
The tattoo imagery are animals , both those found in the surrounding environment, and mythological creatures, (showing features of several animals simultaneously).
The placement of the designs is notable. A number are wrapped around the shoulder and torso, an effective use of the 3-dimensional surface, resulting in imposing images, full of life.

Such as :  
a chest transformed into a Tiger with a spiraling tail;
a right leg from the kneecap to the ankle, covered with a large Fish;
a Feline animal on the shoulder;
a Deer with a beak & whose antlers extend to either bird heads or leaves and flowers., is my favourite.    Deer tattoo on shoulder of "Ice Maiden"

These, as well as Griffin (eagle/lion), Ram, Fish, Mountain Goat, Wolves, Leopard, Elk and Deer, make up the menagerie of Ancient Siberian tattoo.

The significance of these tattoo was no doubt spiritual, either as ancestors (lineage is traced to animals), or as assitants on the Shaman’s journey into the spirit world.
Tattooing may have been an important Initiation Rite, intending to transform the wearer. It is believed those with tattoos were leaders politically, spiritually or both.
As leaders in their communities, their tattoos may have been not only their special privilege but also their duty in terms of carrying forth a shared belief system, knowledge, and tribal wisdom”;  from Tattoo Symbol. 
(transcript of interview with archaeological team who unearthed the "Ice Maiden", from NOVA Science TV).



1 comment:

  1. Those mummies are sooo sexy!!!
    Its absolutly fastinating what you have found Oriel!
    Beautiful history and design! The transformation process is interesting!