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Lane Wilcken

Author and Cultural Practitioner

Lane Wilcken Photo.jpg

Lane Wilcken is an author and cultural practitioner of the ancient arts of the Philippines with an emphasis on indigenous hand-tap tattoos as a spiritual practice. In this aspect he has been recognized by many in the Filipino-American community as a mambabatek or traditional tattoo practitioner. His practice of batok (tattoo) is done as a ritual and applied with tools that are handcrafted by him made of wood, horn, bone and thorns.

Lane has a biracial background with his mother's lineage coming from primarily the Ilocos regions of the Philippines and his father's lineage coming from England and Scandinavia. Lane's maternal family was well acquainted in the traditional spiritual practices of the Philippines, his grandmother was a mangngilut (midwife and healer) and communicator with ancestral spirits. His great-great grandmother was a mangnganito or spirit medium. His grandfather understood the oral traditions and practices of the past. At an early age Lane was interested in mythology and other cultural practices which are the foundation of indigenous Filipino tattooing.


Lane is the author of two books, Filipino Tattoos: Ancient to Modern and The Forgotten Children of Maui: Filipino Myths, Tattoos and Rituals of a Demigod.


The first book, Filipino Tattoos: Ancient to Modern explains the history, spiritual importance, and mythology associated with the ancient tattooing in the Philippines. The often cryptic meanings of individual symbols, designs and placements are revealed. It also explores the cross cultural connections of the tattooing practices of the Polynesians and Micronesian peoples of the Pacific.

The second book, The Forgotten Children of Maui: Filipino Myths, Tattoos and Rituals of a Demigod, focuses on the traditions of the demigod commonly known as LuMauig (i.e. Maui) in the Philippines now fragmented by nearly 500 years of colonialism. Although not readily recognized, these once important traditions still form a subtle undercurrent to many aspects of Filipino cultures.


Lane has been researching the indigenous past of the Philippines and the Pacific Islands for more than two decades. His methodology incorporates oral tradition; written history, linguistics, personal experience and cross-cultural analysis with other Austronesian peoples of the Pacific to bring a fuller understanding of the origins and culture of the peoples of the Philippines. His interest in cultural tattooing was borne out of a desire to strengthen cultural pride among Filipinos and to reunite them and Pacific Islanders symbolically and spiritually with their estranged ancestors. Lane has given numerous presentations and lectures on tattooing, mythology and other cultural traditions at several universities and private forums. Lane resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife Rebekah and their children.

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