At 106, Indigenous Tribal Artist Makes History As Oldest Vogue Magazine Cover Girl(video)

Vogue Magazine has showcased numerous influential women on its covers, ranging from global icons like Lady Gaga, Lena Dunham, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman, Madonna, and Michelle Obama to the late Princess Diana of Wales. While the magazine consistently features supermodels and celebrities, it has been a rarity for its local counterparts to highlight homegrown stars who have significantly impacted the fashion scene in their respective nations.

Breaking the mold, Vogue Philippines has recently made history by featuring Apo Whang-Od, a 106-year-old indigenous tribal tattoo artist from the landlocked province of Kalinga in the Philippines. Whang-Od, formally known as Maria Whang-Od Oggay, holds the distinction of being the oldest cover girl in the esteemed fashion and beauty publication.

Renowned as the "last" and oldest mambabatok in the Philippines, Whang-Od practices the traditional art of tattooing, using a mallet to etch symbols representing tribal identity, kinship, bravery, beauty, and social or wealth status in pre-colonial Philippines, as stated by The Aswang Project.

CNN reports that Whang-Od has been tattooing both local and international tourists since the age of 15, communicating exclusively in her native languages, Kalingan and Ilocano, without proficiency in Tagalog or English, the national languages of the Philippines.

In an interview with Vogue Magazine, translated to English, Whang-Od expressed her sentiment, saying, "When visitors come from far away, I will give them the tatak Buscalan, tatak Kalinga for as long as my eyes can see."

Explore further to delve into the captivating story of Whang-Od and her groundbreaking feature in Vogue Magazine.

At the age of a centenarian, Whang-Od continues to wield the same tools she mastered in her teenage years. The latest cover story of Vogue Philippines unveils her 26-year-old niece, Grace Pelicas, as her protege, a crucial role especially given Whang-Od's advanced age.

Grace shared with the magazine, "I was the first child to learn how to tattoo. I just observed what she did." Mirroring her grand-aunt's style, Pelicas' distinctive tattoos consist of three dots, representing Whang-Od, herself, and their second protege, Elyang.

Beyond being a symbol of apprenticeship, Whang-Od's iconic tattoos also convey an ellipsis, signifying "an open-endedness and a continuation that extends beyond its origins," as per Vogue Philippines.

According to CNN, Whang-Od adheres to an ancient technique, utilizing a thorn from a Pomelo tree, a foot-long bamboo stick, coal scraped from a pot, and water. Despite her age, Whang-Od, akin to contemporary tattoo artists, executes her craft with precision and focus. With each tap on the skin, the 106-year-old artist imparts poignant symbolism that resonates globally.

On the cover of Vogue Philippines, Whang-Od's portrait vividly captures her beauty, grace, authority, and enduring legacy. The tattoos adorning her skin serve as a visual testament to generations of rich culture and history, underscoring the notion that beauty and fashion transcend clothing.

Sharing the cover photo on her official Instagram account, Whang-Od expressed, "Beauty embracing culture. Beauty transcending age. Beauty is not modern; it is timeless."

Whang-Od now holds the distinction of being the oldest Vogue Magazine cover girl, a juxtaposition to Brooke Shields, the youngest to grace the magazine's cover at the age of 14.
Previous Post Next Post