For thousands of years, ancient American peoples practiced tattooing and other permanent forms of body modification. These cultural expressions signified indigenous identity and status and transformed the human body into a ritual vessel that channeled spiritual power across the planes of the living and the dead. This lecture explores the enduring legacy of these traditions with special reference to contemporary Indigenous peoples of Amazonia who continue to transcend their human, natural, and otherworldly realms of existence through bodily alteration.
Following the lecture Dr. Krutak will be joined in a panel discussion with Mary Seo and Michael Galban. This informative panel discussion will engage audiences in an exploration of the artistry, legacy, and relevance of ancient American adornment. Dr. Krutak, Seo, and Galban will discuss the history, anthropology, and significance of adornment across cultures, with a focus on the geographic regions of Central and South America. Specifically, Dr. Krutak will present information about the traditional poking method by the Indigenous Kayabi of the Amazon (Brazil) and his own experience being tattooed using this technique. Seo will help audiences to understand how tattoos factored into larger schemes of adornment represented in the art of the ancient Americas. Galban will join the panel to discuss how today’s adornment practices are connected to, or revive, adornment of the past.
A selection of Krutak’s books will be available for purchase and signing after his lecture.
Join us in-person or online!
If you plan to attend in person at the Museums, tickets are available on the day of the lecture in the Welcome Center. Presented free with museum admission.
To attend via ZOOM, please register in advance.
Generous support for this project provided by ArtBridges.
Dr. Lars Krutak is a Research Associate at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a scholar of body art, authoring four books on the subject of Indigenous body modification. He is also the senior editor of Ancient Ink: The Archaeology of Tattooing (University of Washington Press).
Ji Mary Seo is a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University, who specializes in the visual and material traditions of the pre-Hispanic Andes of South America.
Michael Galban (Washoe/Mono Lake Paiute) is the site manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site and is a practitioner and revivalist in the tattoo traditions of Indigenous North America.