Marks Of Protection

15th Century Tattoo Art Of The Balkan Resistance

Human trafficking was a terrifying reality of common life in the 15th century when the Ottoman Turks swept into the mountainous Balkans and ruthlessly plucked children from villages, never to be heard from again.

To save their children, the tribes began to tattoo them as young as two-years old with intricate shapes, pre-Slavic and somewhat Coptic in appearance. Marks that appeared to the superstitious invaders as rendering its’ bearers untouchable.
Tattoos of protection.

Ink As Weapon, Ink As Grace

Today, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. Sadly, tattooing is often weaponized by traffickers to mark their victims and keep them psychologically chained in shame.

In a partnership with the UN, Medaille Trust works with trained tattoo artists to transform these crude visual assaults into something beautiful, a symbol of power. As Stephen Hay, Director Of Police And Justice puts it, “These unwanted tattoos serve as prominent reminders of the trauma victims have faced, which is why the campaign is helping clients to redesign their tattoos and reclaim their bodies.”

Bridging The Centuries With Art

Modern tattooing is a $6b industry that experienced 300% growth in the US alone since 2005. Fully half of western Millennials are tattooed and tattoo themes, design and culture continue as countable clickbait with athletes, performers and celebrities flocking to artists with a guaranteed headline for every new statement.

While cultures like Japan, China, Ireland, Mexico, Tibet, Polynesia and Native North America enjoy widespread appreciation among collectors, the delicate, upward-reaching designs of the Balkan resistance have yet to be discovered by the world at large.

On June 18, 2022, an art exhibition was held at the Porto Naval Heritage Collection when Balkan tattoo designs were presented in works on canvas, 3D paper and digital formats. The exhibition also features a photo exhibition of works by Miko Đuričić with models with temporary Balkan tattoos.


Friday Jones, organizer

Karen Korponai, charity outreach

Ivana Radović, coordinator

Marks Of Protection

Opening night – Photo album