Marks of Life: The Visual Language of Tattooing
religious core that Indigenous tattooing evolved. Bound by
norms, rules, interdictions, and ritual injunctions,
tattooing functioned to
communicate shared values within the group in order to reduce internal
dissension. And what tattoo tells us on this view is how social stability is
constituted by showing us what a culture’s ethos is and what sensibilities
were shaped by that ethos
especially when it was spelled out externally
on the skin and articulated via social symbolism and traditional practice.
As a medium of cultural inscription, tattooing thus worked to assert
and inscribe affiliation, maturity, responsibility, religious belief, social
achievement, personhood, and humanity, as well as many other aspects of
Indigenous culture that deserve our attention and utmost respect.
1 A. Walbank Buckland, “On Tattooing,”
Journal of the
Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
1888: pp. 318-327.
2 A. Rubin (ed.),
Marks of Civilization: Artistic
Transformations of the Human Body
, Museum of
Cultural History, University of California, LA, 1988.
3 A. Deter-Wolf and C. Diaz-Granados,
Great Needles: Ancient Tattoo Traditions of North
, University of Texas Press, Austin, 2013;
The Tattooing Arts of Tribal Women
Bennett and Bloom, London, 2007; L. Krutak,
Tattoos and Scarification: Spiritual Skin. Wisdom.
Healing. Shamanic Power. Protection
, Edition Reuss,
Aschaffenburg, 2012; M. Kuwahara,
, Berg, Oxford. 2005; S. Mallon, P. Brunt
and N. Thomas,
Samoan Tattoo. New Zealand
Art. Global Culture
, Te Papa Press, Wellington, 2010;
T. Mangos and J. Utanga,
Patterns of the Past: Tattoo
Revival in the Cook Islands
, Punarua Productions,
Auckland, 2011; J.U. Parkitny,
Bloodfaces: Through the
Lens. Chin Women of Myanmar
, Flame of the Forest,
Singapore, 2007; N. Te Awekotuku,
Mau Moko: The
World of Maori Tattoo
, University of Hawai’i Press,
Honolulu, 2007; N. Thomas, A. Cole and D. Bronwen
Tattoo: Bodies, Art, and Exchange in the Pacific
and the West
, Duke University Press, Durham, 2005.
4 A. Gell,
Wrapped in Images: Tattooing in Polynesia
Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993; L. Krutak,
Ancient and Modern Expressions of the Tribal
Reuss, Aschaffenburg, 2010; L. Krutak,
of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary
Expressions of Identity
, LM Publishers, Arnhem, 2014.
5 A. Arnaquq-Baril,
Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit
, 2010 (Documentary film, Unikkaat Studios, Inc.
6 See note 3, above, Krutak, 2007.