The Kayans: Ontology of their tattoos and its meanings


  • Ruslan Abdul Rahim Faculty of Art & Design, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor Malaysia
  • Royer Wan Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC), 53300 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



In Malaysia, the Kayans are just a minority group and have extensive traditional tattoos among the women folks. Anthropologists credited them as the pioneer of exquisite tattoos. The other tribes in Borneo got inspirations for their own body of art. This expansion of existing study attempts to make sense of the motifs and to address the intrinsic and extrinsic meanings of tattoo motifs and relate to their lives. Interviews among tattooed Kayan women folk provide the first-hand information about the implications of tattoos. The perspective of visual semiotics and semantics analysis ultimately shed light on the distant past.

Keywords: Kayan, Tattoo, Meaning, Motifs

eISSN: 2398-4287© 2020. The Authors. Published for AMER ABRA cE-Bsby e-International Publishing House, Ltd., UK. This is an open access article under the CC BYNC-ND license ( Peer–review under responsibility of AMER (Association of Malaysian Environment-Behaviour Researchers), ABRA (Association of Behavioural Researchers on Asians) and cE-Bs (Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.




How to Cite

Abdul Rahim, R. ., & Wan, R. . (2020). The Kayans: Ontology of their tattoos and its meanings. Environment-Behaviour Proceedings Journal, 5(SI3), 335-345.



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