In a marathon seven-hour session in June, a postman in New Taipei City’s (新北) Banciao District (板橋) had the image of his wife’s face tattooed onto his chest, saying that it would always keep her with him.
According to a report in the Chinese-language China Times, Chang Chung-hsiao’s (張忠孝) wife, Lai Chin-yun (賴錦雲), passed away on April 18 last year from adrenal carcinoma, just two days before their 29th wedding anniversary.
Chang chose to have his wife’s face inked onto his chest in July last year before the full 100 days after her passing. At the same time, his three children also chose to get a tattoo of the lilium casa blanca, Lai’s favorite flower, on the back of their hands, the report said.
Chinese tradition sets the 100th day after an individual’s death as something of a breaker between ceremonies commemorating the dead, and ceremonies rejoicing that the deceased have moved to the next stage.
Usually, family of the deceased will hold a ceremony and lay out a feast to express their continuing grief, wishing their loved ones well in the afterlife.
Those with more money and time may also choose to hire Buddhist monks or Taoist practitioners to conduct ceremonies that hope to speed the deceased’s spirit onto the next stage.
Shih Ming-chung (施明忠), the tattoo artist hired by Chang, said that a face is the hardest tattoo to create, adding that one has to capture the spirit in that person’s face, the report said.
“It is a difficult process, and even with a photo provided beforehand, the artist still needs some time to become familiar with the face,” Shih was quoted as saying.
He added that near the end of the tattooing process “Chang burst into tears and whispered: ‘We are bringing you home.’”
Shih said Chang’s wish to have the tattoo on the chest also posed another technical challenge, as this part of the body contains several sensitive areas, such as the ribs and nipples.
Shih added that on a scale of one to 100, if the pain from slapping a mosquito was one, then sticking a needle in the chest area would be about 80.
However, Chang did not made one sound during the tattooing, the newspaper cited Shih as saying.