Among the approximately 300,000 Kurdish Syrians displaced by the ISIS siege and subsequent battle are the last generation of tattooed women from the region. Facial tattoos were common until the mid 1960s in the Kurdish areas of northern Syria. Black, geometric patterns were created with sewing needles and an ink of soot and mother's milk, for beautification, tribal identification, luck, fertility and protection. In recent years, women have forsaken the tradition, which is now considered to be old-fashioned and 'haraam'-- against the rules of Islam, the predominant religion in the area.
Some symbols from Yazidism, a religion that in the past was practiced by many Kurds, including sun, moon, stars and peacock, can be found in the tattoos. Other tattoos resemble vines and symbolize fertility and strength, while the patterns of shapes and inverted "v"s which oftentimes decorate the chin are said to make the owner's speak more sweetly. Nowadays, vestiges of the tradition can be found in the simple dots that sometimes mark a woman's forehead, nose or chin. The tattooed women of Kobani are living artifacts, providing us with a window into the past.