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Documentary Photography: The last of the Spider Women

The last of the Spider Women


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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The Chin "Spider Women" Rakhine State, Myanmar

In June 2018 a small group of us took a 3 hour (one way) Journey on the Laymro River from Mrauk U to a remote Chin Village in the Chin State.
Located in the southern part of northwestern Burma (Myanmar), bordered by Bangladesh and India to the west, Rakhine State to the south, and Magwe and Sagaing Divisions
to the East.


It is here were only a handful of older women proudly display their facial tattoos and called the "Spider Women"  we discovered there were only six of them left in the area.
A dying tradition and the practice is now not allowed by the Burmese authorities hence the reason this part of Chin culture is dying out fast.

We arrived in Myanmar at the onset of the Monsoon season (my favorite time for travel) and the Laymro River was already running fast which made our journey to this remote region even more exciting. Providing us photo opportunities seldom seen in this part of Myanmar, lush green vegetation and the occasional storm made this trip an unforgettable one.

It was very visible once we arrived and climbed the steep river bank towards the village that heavy rain had past through the area recently, it looked like a small river had run through part of the village, but luck was on our side that day and the sun blessed us now and then.
We were welcomed by the village chief and after a while we got introduced to six charming old ladies who's age varied from approx. 68 to 80 plus years old, non of them knew for sure their exact age.

There was another "Spider Women "but she was bedridden and could not greet us, so in total there were only seven women left in the village wearing their spider design tattoo. 

Wow… what a sight, detailed tattoos over their faces and even the eyelids had been covered which must have been a painful experience at the age of nine when the Tattoos had been done.

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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The Chin "Spider Women" Rakhine State, Myanmar

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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The Chin "Spider Women" Rakhine State, Myanmar


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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The Chin "Spider Women" Rakhine State, Myanmar

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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The Chin "Spider Women" Rakhine State, Myanmar


The women told us how they were tattooed and how it was an old ancient custom to do so, prevent invaders from taking away the local women, well so goes one story. 

But when we talked to the man and ask them how they felt like it, and been married to a women who's face was tattooed they replied proudly with a smile and said…
we adore it and like it very much.

Another ancient Chin legend has it that when a Burmese king travelled to the region, he was so impressed by the women’s beauty that he kidnapped one to take as a bride.

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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The Chin "Spider Women" Rakhine State, Myanmar

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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The Chin "Spider Women" Rakhine State, Myanmar

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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The start of our Journey in Mrauk U, Rakhine State, Myanmar


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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
The remote Chin Village and the erosion from recent Monsoon Rains, Myanmar


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2018 © Gunther Deichmann
Our Journey on the Laymro River, Rakhine State, Myanmar


Amazing stories and we would have been lost without our great local guide who spoke the local language and kept busy translating for us non stop.

But what ever the story maybe, all of us felt very privileged to be with these wonderful people and once this generation is gone so will be their ancient culture and tradition.

It is worthwhile noting that different tribes in northwestern Myanmar have used tattoos to distinguish one hill tribe from another or indicate their martial status and social rank. People can tell where a Chin woman is from by the design of the facial tattoos.
Not all of them have this particular spider web design,
it was only in this village, hence the reason these women are called the "The last of the spider women."
GD

Cambodian Tale, the Tiger and Mouse

Cambodia, July 2017

Some nice Cambodian tales I received in my Hotel room during my last private Photography Workshop, actually everyday there was another interesting story rolled up on a nice piece of paper on my bed and wishing me a very good night and in due time I post a few more.

See below one of those Cambodian tales, true to everyday life and nature, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
GD


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Fallen leaves during the Monsoon Season in Cambodia - © Gunther Deichmann


A CAMBODIAN TALE CALLED THE TIGER AND THE MOUSE...


ON ONE HOT DAY, A LONG TIME AGO, TIGER CAME OUT OF THE WOODS TO

DRINK WATER FROM A POND AT A CLEARING; THERE HE MET MOUSE WHO HAD THE

SAME IDEA. FEELING BOASTFUL AND SUPERIOR, TIGER SAID TO MOUSE:

"YOU ARE SUCH AN INSIGNIFICANT AND USELESS CREATURE; THERE IS NOTHING

YOU CAN DO THAT I CANNOT DO, SO LEAVE MY SIGHT?"

MOUSE, FEARFUL OF TIGER, RETREATED BACK TO THE FIELDS.

IT JUST HAPPENED THAT DAY; TRAPPERS WERE IN THE FOREST SETTING

UP NETS, TRYING TO CAPTURE A TIGER FOR THE KING. TIGER, USUALLY CAREFUL

BUT FEELING PROUD AFTER CHASING MOUSE AWAY, WAS NOT LOOKING WHERE HE

WAS GOING AND UNFORTUNATELY STEPPED ON THE TRAP. SUDDENLY, THERE HE

WAS, TANGLED IN THE NET UP ON THE TREE, TIGER TRIED TO FREE HIMSELF BUT

WAS UNABLE TO. HE KEPT ON CALLING PASSING ANIMALS TO HELP HIM BUT THEY

COULD NOT GET HIM OUT, DESPERATE, HE KNEW THE KIND OF FATE THAT

AWAITED HIM, BEING IN A LOCKED CAGE AND BEATEN UP BY THE KING'S GUARDS.

WELL, IT JUST HAPPENED THAT MOUSE WAS PASSING THROUGH THE

FOREST AND HE HEARD THE CRIES OF TIGER, HE APPROACHED AND OFFERED TO

HELP. BY THIS TIME, TIGER WAS LOSING HOPE, ANY OFFER OF HELP WAS

WELCOMED, MOUSE CLIMBED UP INTO THE NET AND IN NO TIME, CHEWED THE

CORDS OUT AND FREED TIGER. MOUSE, THEN SAID TO HIM:


"YOU, EARLIER SAID THAT I WAS A USELESS CREATURE BUT AS YOU CAN SEE, I

WAS ABLE TO FREE YOU, DO NOT MOCK ANY ANIMAL BECAUSE OF IT'S SIZE.

BECAUSE WE ARE SMALL DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE ARE USELESS, EACH CREATURE

POSSESSES UNIQUE SKILLS."

TIGER, SHAMEFUL AND WITH HIS HEAD DOWN, RAN BACK TO THE FOREST

AS QUICKLY AS HE COULD, SO FROM THIS DAY ON, TIGERS LEARNED NOT TO

DISRESPECT MICE.

Awesome light over a magic place, Cambodia July 2017

Awesome light over a magic place, Cambodia July 2017
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Angkor Wat, Cambodia, July 2017
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This was a very first for me, well at least in such an intensity, a full Rainbow over the ancient Khmer Angkor Wat Temple. It was raining heavy all day but Arno Baetz and myself kept on going, trust me nothing was dry we were soaking wet right through the bone.

We left the Bayon Temple area where we had a great Rainbow just 20 minutes earlier, when I decided to take a quick dash over to Angkor Wat in the hope for good light.
Just in time… and what an awesome sight awaited us with almost no people around, they all took cover or went back to their Hotel early since it was raining heavy almost the whole day. It was pure magic for a while, the light and a full rainbow over the historical Angkor Wat temple. I experienced great light and the odd rainbows before at this famous archeology site but nothing like this.

Ohhh... how I love the unpredictable Monsoon season, you never know what's going to happen next, I guess you have to stay out there, get soaking wet and take some chances, and for me ... this was the best 25th anniversary present visiting Cambodia since my first visit
in April 1992.

Please Note:

We just updated/fine tuned and added a few more images to the Galley on my new website and if you can spare a moment please drop by and check out the latest Images from Vietnam and Cambodia including many more from this magic day and please take note of my new Domain Name.

www.gdeichmann-photo.com

NEW HOME/Website: http://www.gdeichmann-photo.com

NEW Blog:
http://www.gdeichmann-photo.com/blog/

Until soon,
Cheers GD


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