This tattoo theme first caught my eye when the Miami Ink series stared and I noticed them on Chris Nunez’s shoulders. I had no idea what it was called, no idea what it meant so I started searching and came across the name “Borneo rose“.
This class of tattoos, often referred to as Borneo Roses, are based on the stylized flower designs popular among the tribal peoples of Borneo.
Borneo roses are one of the most misinterpreted tattoos out there. It’s 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 for the number of petals there is no actual meaning, 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.
Hope this was helpful for all of you who consider gettin’ a Borneo rose tattoo…
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