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Photographer's Note

I like to achieve some variety in what I post to TrekEarth, so for my 101th posting I have decided to offer something in the humorous category.

I was in Sarawak last weekend and spotted this shop in one of the old streets in the centre of Kuching. It reminded me of what I was taught when doing my management studies at university, and that was if the core activity of a business is in decline, it should look to diversify into other fields where it can best utilise the unique skills and resources that define the organisation’s distinctive competence. I thought that as head-hunting was definitely on the decline in Borneo, the selection of tattooing and body piercing was a good example of business diversification utilising this organisation’s “unique skills and resources”. Perhaps this would make a good case study for the management textbooks!

This shop is in row of shoplots (as they are called in Malaysia) that is in an area of the city where the buildings were reconstructed after the Great Fire of Kuching in 1884. I am not sure how old these particular ones are, but I’d guess over 100 years. This is a typical two-storey shoplot with the downstairs shop set back from the road so that there is a shaded passageway along which pedestrians can walk, sheltered from the sun and rain (Sarawak gets a lot of both), and the upstairs shop being accessible through a narrow flight of stairs (behind the maroon door in the bottom left hand corner of the photograph under the circular tattoo sign). Note the ferns growing out of cracks in the wall on the left and on the roof. The year-round heat and humidity of Borneo makes it possible for plants to grow almost anywhere. Sometimes fig trees start sprouting from cracks in walls, but it is necessary to pull these out otherwise the roots will eventually crack the whole structure.

If you are interested in the history of tattooing, this business has quite an interesting website. According to the website: “For many centuries, the tradition and practice of tattooing has also been a way of life for the Iban - one of the largest tribes (on the island of Borneo). Tattoos were very much entwined with every aspect of their culture. The practice of tattooing was a sacred activity that connected the people to the spiritual world. Tattooing was also linked to the men's success in headhunting and the coming of age amongst the womenfolk.” It also mentioned that the business was founded in 1998 but they had been bootlegging since 1992. I assume the bootlegging referred to tattooing and not to hunting heads.

PP: I first had to straighten this slightly – it was actually hard to decide what was straight and what was not, because the walls on either side of the shop are not parallel and the signs are all a bit crooked. Then minor adjustments to levels, contrast, saturation and USM.

capthaddock, WorldGuru, chaity, bpelvan has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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