Spiritual Skin

February 17th, 2014 / by Kali Hays / no comments / permalink

Tattoo’s may seem ubiquitous amongst the cool kids now, especially if you live in a city like New York or Los Angeles, but they are far from a recent trend. In Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoos and Scarification anthropologist and photographer Lars Krutak takes a serious look into the ancient rituals of tattooing and scarification in tribal communities from Papua New Guinea to Sub Saharan Africa.

Spiritual Skin $200

Spiritual Skin $200

 

In his work that began about a decade ago, Krutak explains that tattoos and scarification are not merely for looks or to demonstrate status or accomplishments. For these cultures they are imbued with magic that provides strength, protection, and power with the universe. The Author gives a brief explanation here:

Whether or not you think tattoos are magical the photos are stunning and give a peek into worlds that, while they seem far away, are filled with people that have hopes and fears.

 Photos by Lars Krutak

 

 

 

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Heavenly Bodies

January 19th, 2014 / by Kali Hays / no comments / permalink

If you just happened upon a mass of skeletons hidden away in an underground tunnel, what would you decide they were there for? If you said Christian martyrs, you’re right in line with the thinking of Roman Catholics in 1578.

Heavenly Bodies $29.95

Heavenly Bodies $29.95

Left: St Valentinus in Waldsassen, Germany wearing a jeweled version of a deacon's cassock. Right: Hand of St Valentin in Bad Schussenreid, Germany. Many of the catacomb saints were name for the popular Italian saint.

Left: St Valentinus in Waldsassen, Germany wearing a jeweled version of a deacon’s cassock. Right: Hand of St Valentin in Bad Schussenreid, Germany. Many of the catacomb saints were name for the popular Italian saint.

In Heavenly Bodies, a book of photographs and amended research by Paul Koudounaris, these martyrs or “catacomb saints” are photographed in some of oldest religious establishments in Europe. Many are seeing light through his lens after decades of being hidden away by embarrassed churches when modernity swept in and cast serious doubt on the authenticity of these lavishly adorned skeletons.

St Munditia at the church of St Peter in Munich

St Munditia at the church of St Peter in Munich

Imagine the draw a supposed martyr who looked this glorious would have had for those in a church service at a time when most people were illiterate and any sort of schooling was reserved for the wealthiest citizens or members of the priesthood. Worshipped and adorned with crowns and armor made from pearls, rubies, emeralds, gold; all of the most precious materials the Catholic church had to offer, the beautified remains were sent to churches and put on public display throughout German-speaking Europe, praised as miracle workers and protectors of believers.

Painted skulls of nuns who were members of the convent in Eschenbach, Germany and devoted to their catacomb saint Symphorosa

Painted skulls of nuns who were members of the convent in Eschenbach, Germany and devoted to their catacomb saint Symphorosa

St Luciana at a convent in Heiligkreuztal, Germany

St Luciana at a convent in Heiligkreuztal, Germany

Though these saints have been proven fictitious creations of the Catholic church, ordered to replace relics that were lost in the Protestant Reformation, obviously the artisanal excellence displayed should not be de-valued. Nuns and monks painstakingly prepared and bejeweled these skeletons and the time between transport and final display was often several years.  Gold lattice, pearls and sapphires were made to replace eyes and gold armor dripping with precious stones and pearls covers each from head to toe. They may not have died for their religious beliefs, but a visual representation of death this alluring is easy to worship.

St Benedictus in the church of St Michael in Munich

St Benedictus in the church of St Michael in Munich

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