Borneo Rose

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This class of tattoos, often referred to as Borneo Roses, are based on the stylized flower designs popular among the tribal peoples of Borneo.

Damian McGrath adds:

On the deltoid region of the shoulders and on the breasts, a rosette or star design is found. It seems in the highest degree probable that the rosette is derived from the eye in the dog pattern, and it is consequently of some interest to find that the name now given to the rosette pattern is that of the fruit of a plant which was introduced into Borneo certainly within the last fifty or sixty years... its Kayan name is jalaut. We have here a good example of the gradual degradation of a design leading to a loss of its original significance and even of its name, another name, which originated probably from some fancied resemblance between pattern and object, being applied at a subsequent date...


Borneo roses are one of the most misinterpreted tattoos out there. Its actual name is the "bunga teruong" and it's most present in the Iban tribe of Borneo. Each part of the design symbolizes something, but the overall design is supposed to guard the wearer from evil spirits, and it always to be done in pairs either on the shoulders, back, chest, hands or buttocks, to protect both sides of the person from evil. Tattooing different parts of the body with the bunga teruong does not change it's meaning, back in the tribal days, you'd tattoo a certain part of your body depending on what you were, whilst most men would have their shoulders tattooed, headhunters would tattoo their hands. As for the spiral, it's meant to symbolize the life cycle and is taken from the spiral design you see on the belly of a tadpole, and the number of petals, there is no actual meaning to the number of petals, different villages of the Iban or Dayak tribe (only two tribes that had the bunga teruong) would have a different number of petals in their design.

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