Tattoos of Tibetan Refugees: Kunchok


Kunchok was eight when he came to India. He came with an uncle, there were 18 people in their group, and it took them over two weeks or walking to reach Nepal, they crossed at Shagonpo La.

In Tibet, he completed two years of school, his family wanted him to come to India for his education, and to be blessed by HH the Dalai Lama.

He had his tattoo done around Democracy Day in 2010, it was done by machine; it was a design he liked.

While his tattoo is modern, he still wears the chime gudril-influenced bracelet around his wrist. He says, “It is said in the early time this is one of the best Tibetan weapons. People say that this pattern also has kind of power of protection; it protects you from joint fractures by wearing it around the ankle or wrist. For me, I occasionally have some pain so out of belief I wear it around my wrist. I guess it psychologically helps.”

When asked about the elders’ thoughts on tattoos, he states, “Well, I don’t think any other ethnicity would think that way (from what I know). It is kind of Tibetan thinking. Even if I have a lizard tattoo, who knows if I would be reborn as a lizard.”

On having a political tattoo, “I never think of that, we were born in Tibet, who can say that we are going to stay in India forever, who can say that Tibet will not get freedom soon, and who can say that we would not be back soon? Anything may happen (that we can or have to go back to Tibet). So I kind of try not to have a political tattoo. “

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