Spiritual Skin: Magical Tatoos and Scarification is a photographic masterwork in two parts exploring the secret world of magical tattooing and scarification across the tribal world. Based on one decade of tattoo anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak’s fieldwork among animistic and shamanic societies of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Melanesia, Spiritual Skin journeys into sacred territory to reveal how people utilize ritual body modification to enhance their access to the supernatural.
The first part delves into the ancient art of Thai tattooing (sak yant) that is administered by holy monks who harness the energy and power of the Buddha himself. Also included is an in-depth study of the tattooing worlds of the Amerindians. The discussion of talismanic tattooing is concluded with a detailed look at the individuals who created magical tattoos and the various techniques they used.
Part two is an absolute must-read for anyone seeking knowledge about the religious meanings of tribal scarification. The rituals, techniques, and spiritual iconography of scarmasters in Benin (Bétamarribé), Papua New Guinea (Kaningara), and Ethiopia (Hamar) expose a relatively undocumented world of permanent body symbolism created through painful and bloody rites of self-sacrifice and restraint.