Khmer traditional body tattoo in prehistoric era

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The late Neolithic and early Metal ages (2500years-500years BC) are the periods of time that Khmer ancestors still made a living as tribal farmers and had already practiced tattoo.
Meanwhile, they could process metal into tools to be used in society leading cultural development in all fields. Although, untils 3rd-century of BC just witnessed records by Chinese people on tattoo, chewing betel nut (Mlou), the use of bow by Khmer ancestors who at that time wore pins and loincloths. Ethnic people of Southern for China it referred to tribes in which comprised of Mon-Khmer and they were found to be living until today.

The above descriptions and Chinese written documents suggest irrefutable proofs of body tattoo by Khmer ancestors. In 1968, we found a female statue at Laang Spean Mountain in Kompot province and recently some cattle in Snay village, Preah Net Preah district, Banteay Meanchey province are also relevant to tattoo practice which is the interesting most. The antique with circle spots around Female organ or on cattle bodies are of their reasons. Those marks represent significant and precise meanings.

In addition, they are testimonies of the old age of tattoo tradition in long period of time of Khmer nationals. The female sculpture is a symbol of ancestral mother dated at least between 2500 BC. While, the practice of tattoo on cattle bodies dated just between 5th-century and 3rd-century BC. The two sites have different ages because the cultural layer of land in the Laang Spean Mountains dated around 4290 BC while, Snay village in Banteay Meanchey province is younger. The tattoo is not just only a symbol for attracting natural power or spirits of ancestors who passed away to protect body but also for boasting magical power, knight, rank, or great courage by persons who have tattoos on their bodies. The popularity of tattoo comes from the effectiveness of those symbols regarded as hidden sacred and immortal emblems which ancestors passed on to their younger generations. Until now, the tribes of upper Khmer (Khmer Loeu ) or Khmer of origin (Khmer Doeum) who live in the mountains or low land areas still practice tattoo which indicates the long period of tattoo culture. In general, they can say that the tradition of tattoo is an identity of those upper Khmer who live in groups of all small and large communities. This means that these sacred emblems present judgments of characters or personalities of each group. In summary, the birth of tattoo norm during prehistory is an abstract heritage of culture which still continues to the present and is being popularly followed by Khmer and upper Khmer people. While, the sculpture in Pali scripts or Preah Katha or Yantra by Brahmin or Buddhist style is another case.