Whang-Od Oggay or Maria Oggay is a traditional tattoo artist. She was born on February 17, 1917 in Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga, Philippines. Her father was also a master tattooist in their region, and it is through his guidance and training that she was able to master her craft from the time she was 15 years old and no 80 years later.
In the tribe of Butbut, Whang-Od honed her skill in hand-tapped tattooing (batok). These tattoos are earned by warriors and headhunters by protecting the village or by killing enemies. For men, tattoos are designed to symbolize courage and bravery. Women were also inked but mainly for aesthetic purposes, as tattoos symbolize elegance and beauty.
Whang-Od needs only a few things for her sessions. The tattoo ink is made up of charcoal and water. Once the ink is mixed in, she begins tapping it deep within the skin using a thorn of pomelo tree or calamansi attached to a 12-inch-long bamboo stick. For reference, she provides sample designs that carry certain meanings.
The ‘mambabatok’ tattooing can only be passed through lineage according to their tradition. Otherwise, the tattoos may become infected, Whang-Od believes. Although Whang-Od never got married and has no children of her own, her grandniece Grace is under her training so the ‘mambabatok’ art will continue to live.
Whang Od Collection: The Legendary Mambabatok-inspired streetwear. The collection consists of 3 headwear - a 9FIFTY, 9FORTY and a Reversible Bucket and 2 Shirts featuring the portrait of Whang Od.