Pintados de Leyte Festival

Pintados Kasadyaan FestivalThe custom of tattooing earned for the Leyteños the name of Pintados. From ancient history, Roman conquests also made mention of tattooed people in Britons, Saitas, Oriental Tartar, Macasar and other parts of the world. The origin of the practice is different to determine but the strongest contention is that an ancient priestess instigated it and through the members of her cult, began the custom.

The tattoos, however, became distinctive marks of courage and generally made the origin, orientation and livelihood of the bearer identifiable. The most basic design of tattoos began from ankle to groin and consisted of two bonds a finger or almost two in width. The tattoo in the chest were made like breastplates. When the tattooers did their work more artistically, they left between the bond (which were colored blue) and white designs.

When the missionaries from Spain arrived in Leyte, they found the Pintados gruesome but later learned to appreciate the happy contentment and beauty of the people. With the coming of the Spaniards, the people learned new ways of life and blended this with neo-pagan ways of the Pintados.

Even today, the happy blend exists in the customs and practices of Leyte. The Leyteños have retained their cultural roots while assimilating the changes that progress brings.

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