Traditional Ornaments: five questions to Matilde Borriero


Matilde Borriero, aka Matt_Rand0ms, is a multidisciplinary artist from Arco, Italy. She practises modern tattooing, traditional handpoke, and is also experimenting other body modification techniques.

We met Matilde online when we started Aswad, and we were mermerized by her focus and great approach towards traditional tattooing, specially on her work around traditional and neo-amazigh rituals.

How did you become a tattoo artist and what about the handpoke?

Well, I never considered the tattooer career before the moment I actually find myself into “the game”. I started just for curiosity on myself and my friends with handpoke techniques and the more I poked the more I enjoyed it. Handpoke is what let me really feel the skin of a person and that kinda feels like I’m breaking their shells and “touching” an uncovered part of them.
Of course I follow many artists but I never focus on a single one. What I’m trying to do is mixing ancient cultures and new concepts so I just try to take inspiration from all of them and play with the variety of shapes and structures.

What has inspired your tattoo career?

I’ve always found tattoos a great way to express ourselves and I kinda focused on that single thing trying to express myself through my tattoo designs.
Of course I follow many artists but I never focus on a single one. What I’m trying to do is mixing ancient cultures and new concepts so I just try to take inspiration from all of them and play with the variety of shapes and structures.

How did you discovered amazigh tattooing?

I can’t remember the first time I saw a berber tattoo, maybe it was surfing the internet, but I started loving them after seeing some handpokers do this and bought some books to understand the culture behind them. Since then I fell in love.

What is, in your opinion, the meaning behind wearing an amazigh tattoo in 2019?

There is a division to do between “cultural” amazigh tattoos and “fashion” on my opinion. Nothing bad, I mean I would love those designs on me too! Just different concept of tattooing: who is wearing an original amazigh tattoo is carrying a culture, a real meaning and real amulets. On the other hand, who is wearing an amazigh for his design is carrying a piece of art that could bring people closer to this culture.

In North African countries, a new generation have a strong hunger for reviving traditional tattoo. What would be your advice for them?

Be proud of your Amazigh and wear them like your favorite shirt, because it’s part of you like your eye color. There’s nothing wrong with your culture. Who could say it’s inappropriate?

Get in touch with Matilde

Matilde is working at Endorphin Tattoo Piercing & Bodmod in Arco (Italy)
Fb: Matilde Borriero
Ig: matt_rand0ms
Mail: [email protected]

Building bridges : traditional symbolism with Ghazal Jafari

Ghazal Jafari is a talented hanpoke artist based in The Netherlands.

Talisman creator ♡ Specialized in blackwork tattoos ♡ Combining ancient healing and protection symbols, Spirit Animals and Sacred Geometry ♡

We asked Ghazal about her work and strong interest in tattoo symbolism and she gladly accepted to answer our questions

Family portrait

Ghazal started tattooing thanks to her mother, a well established cosmetic and medical tattooist and who has been teaching students for over 20 years.
After getting the basics of cosmetic tattooing, Ghazal realised that it wasn’t the path she wanted to follow.

So her mother pushed her to keep tattooing and even gifted her with her first tattoo machine. That’s how she started to study tattoos in a more artistic and traditional approach.

Rituals, handpoke & traditions

After reasearching the indigenous tattooing cultures for many years, she felt this incredible pull towards the ritual and the ceremony of traditional handpoke tattooing.

Quite early, she knew that skin was the medium she wanted to explore and that tattooing had and incredible power.

“We are applying shapes, symbols and colors to our body. These shapes, symbols and colors have significant and energy and have the power to alter our consciousness. So many indiginous tribes have used this powerful tool in their spiritual practice.”

Tattoos have been applied for centuries all over the globe and Ghazal have spent the last ten years studying these powerful traditions, symbolism and mysticism.

Building bridges : from Iran to Morocco

Ghazal is from Persian descent and has always had a very strong tie with her inheritance. She has travelled many times to visit her grandmother and to discover her roots and the old persian traditions.

She remembers her telling the old stories and celebrating the old pagan ways : the beautiful stories of Winter Solstice or the Persian new year, the Spring Equinox. She has learned so much from this incredible woman. 

“I was studying the magical powers of symbols woven into Persian kilims and rugs to create talismans. And I discovered this whole new world!”

In past times in Iran, the upper class women would be tattooed with a beard-like pattern. After doing more research, she discovered so many interesting things.

She discovered a 800 year old poem of the Persian poet Rumi, about a woman getting a lion tattoo. She read that old Persian Kings and Queens were tattooed to honour the Gods and to beautify themselves. Ghazal traced these back to the even older Persian nomads wearing these symbols on their faces and bodies.

The next step in her research lead her to the Amazigh tribe.

“It is so beautiful to see how all these tribes were some how connected and share so many similarities in their traditions. We are all more connected than we think.”

Roots and pride : the future of traditional tattooing

“It brings such joy to me that, we, the new generations, are rediscovering these beautiful ways in which our Ancestors honoured the world around them. How they believed in magic and the power of symbols. I am so humbled to be able to contribute to this and to keep these traditions alive. “

“Wear them with pride. I certainly do!”

For Ghazal, there is nothing so powerfull than to honour and celebrate our roots and therefore our traditions. What is also very important to her, is understanding what it is you are tattooing or receiving as a form of respect to the art of traditional tattooing and the symbols behind it.

How to get in touch with Ghazal ?

Ghazal devides her time between Rotterdam and Malage. She also regularly tattoos in London and Cheltenham in the UK.

She is what we can call a “Nomad”, travelling from here to there, always in quest of new inspirations and discoveries around traditional tattooing.

You can follow her next destinations on Instagram:

Or contact her by mail at :[email protected]

“There is a meditative feel to receiving and giving a handpoke tattoo. I want to honour that.”