By Amanda Stringfellow @amanda_l_s

WITH spider webs, B-patterns and crossed lines painstakingly inked on their faces these stunning photographs show the tattooed women of Burma

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French photographer Eric Lafforgue travelled to the Chin, Rakhine and Arakan states of northwestern Myanmar to capture the rare facial designs.

Spider webs, B-patterns and crossed lines appear painstakingly inked on their faces

The remote tribal Mindat area, where the women live, was restricted by the Burmese government until two years ago and is still only visited by 700 tourists per year.

The design, known as the letter B-pattern, is common in the Mindat area
A woman from the Muun tribe who inhabit the hills of the Arakan state

The ancient practice involves using tattoo needles made by tying three pieces of bamboo together or using thorns to draw the design.

This design is composed of dots, lines and occasionally circles

The ink is a mixture of cow bile, soot, plants, and pig fat and it usually takes one day to complete a standard tattoo and three for the totally black mask.

A woman with a rare full-face tattoo - she comes from the Kanpelet village, home to women from the U Pu tribe

Eric said: "The origin of facial tattoos in the region is unknown – but it is believed men from the tribe may have tattooed their women to make them ugly, thereby saving them from a life of slavery as the former Kings took the most beautiful

"There are a few different face tattoo patterns. The spiderweb tattoo is popular in the Mrauk U region, it takes a day of boat ride to reach Mrauk U from Sittwe, then another three hour long tail boat ride to reach this remote area."

French photographer Eric Lafforgue travelled to the Chin, Rakhine and Arakan states of northwestern Myanmar

Another design, known as the letter B-pattern, is common in the Mindat area.

It is composed of dots, lines and occasionally circles and is worn by the Muun tribe who inhabit the hills of the Arakan state.

A tribe's woman plays a wooden pipe with her nose

"Kanpelet village is home to the women from the U Pu tribe who have the incredibly rare whole face tattoo, this is one of the most impressive styles as the entire face is inked up," added Eric, who spent three weeks in the country.

"The military junta in Burma has forbidden the tattoos, I met one old man who loves the women with tattooed faces so much that he married two of them.

The Chinn tribe are famous for their tattoos that look like spider webs
The tattoo needles are made by tying three pieces of bamboo together or using thorns to draw the design

"According to him, if the government caught them doing a tattoo, they would have to pay half a cow for a fine, a fortune for them.

"But when you walk deep into the hills, you still can find some young women who have them. Many refused to be photographed, knowing the tattoos are illegal."