Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

tattooing kit
  • unknown Hawazma maker
  • tattooing kit, 1983–1984
  • Where object was made: Kurdufān (present-day Southern Kordofan), Sudan
  • ceramic, metal, wood, bile, lampblack
  • Object Height/Diameter: c) 4 x 6 cm
    Object Height/Diameter: c) 1 9/16 x 2 3/8 in
  • Museum purchase: KUEA Funds
  • Not on display
  • 2007.0250.a,b,c
Label Text

This is a kit for tattooing the lips of young girls.
A bundle of 24 needles with eyes (2007.0250.a) is kept together with a black string.
There is a small rod of wood (2007.0250.b), which is probably a stirring stick for the pigment or an applicator that would apply the pigment to the skin before it was pierced into the skin with the needles.

The white ceramic cup with gold stars (2007.0250.c) held tattoo ink made of bile and lampblack. Most of the tattoo ink has been placed in a bag, but the cup still contains much of the residue.

Lampblack is the charcoal residue from burning an oil lamp.