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25 “Must Watch” Cultural Anthropology Videos: Body Art

A person with glow in the dark paint on their face and body

In this blog post, I am continuing my series on “must watch” videos in Anthropology by sharing 25 “must watch” Cultural Anthropology videos that all focus on the topic of body art! For previous blog posts in this series, check out 30 “Must Watch” Videos in Cultural Anthropology: Religion, 28 “Must Watch” Videos in Cultural Anthropology: Gender, 20 “Must Watch” Videos in Cultural Anthropology: Marriage, and 56 Must Watch Linguistic Anthropology Videos.

This blog post is a modified text version of my YouTube video, called “Must Watch Cultural Anthropology Videos: Body Art.” Instead of reading this blog post, you can watch the video embedded below or at this link.

Have you ever wanted to watch Anthropology related videos, but doing a quick search doesn’t bring up the results you’re looking for? Or, maybe you don’t have the time to sort through thousands and thousands of results to find a cool documentary? Either way, my series on “must watch” videos in Anthropology is made for you! In this blog post, I’m sharing 25 “must watch” Cultural Anthropology videos that all focus on the topic of body art! Links to all the videos are embedded in the text below, so be sure to check them out.

Video #1

Many people around the world do some form of body art. Body art includes things like painting the body, tattoos, and scarification (which is the process of cutting the body to create designs with scars).

In the rainforest in South America, there is a group of Yanomami people called the Sanema. They stick down on their bodies to decorate them. In the first video, called, “Yanomami Women Dancing,” you can watch this process of body decoration.

Video #2

If you are a woman, you might paint yourself with makeup, but would you ever paint your body with clay? In video 2, “Body Painting in the Surma Tribes“, you can watch the Surma people painting their bodies with a mixture of clay and water.

Video #3

Just like some women paint their faces with makeup, some people paint designs on their bodies. In video 3, called “Tribal Body Care,” you’ll be able to see the designs that some people of South America paint on their bodies.

Video #4

Many women use a hairband or scrunchie or maybe ribbon to decorate their hair. But there is a tribe of people in Brazil where the women make headbands out of white feathers from vultures and other birds. In video 4, called “Body Decoration of the Zo’é women,” you’ll be able to watch women harvesting the feathers and making their headbands. You can also see the wooden lip plugs in the women’s faces as well. This is another kind of body art.

Video #5

So we already saw that the Surma people paint their bodies with clay. The Himba people of Namibia also paint their bodies, but with ocher, which is a red mineral. In video 5, called “Ritual de las Mujeres Himba,” you can watch the Himba women creating the paint, and then covering their bodies with it.

Video #6

The Surma people of Ethiopia paint designs on their bodies. In video 6, called, “Scarification: A Ritual Before Fighting,” you can see the designs painted on men’s legs. This video also shows scarification, which is when cuts are made on the body, which creates designs made of scars. Please note–this video is graphic and shows the actual process of scarification.

Video #7

This next video, called “Scarification” by National Geographic, also shows the process of scarification, but in a culture in Benin, which is in West Africa. Here the scarification of the abdomen is part of a rite of passage and marks the person as an adult. Once again this video is graphic and shows the actual scarification process. Also, in this culture, children are scarred, and this video shows that graphic process as well.

Video #8

In northeast India, there is a tribe that was famous for their tattoos, ear plugs, and nose plugs. In video 8, called “The Changing Face of Beauty in Northeast India,” listen to a tribal elder talk about these forms of body art in her culture, and you can also view the body art on her face.

Video #9

So you already know about scarification in two cultures. Now in video 9, called “Rites of Manhood: Crocodile Scars,” you can see scarification in a culture in Papua New Guinea. Once again, this is part of a ritual that is a rite of passage, making the boys into men.  And once again, this video is graphic and shows the cutting process.

Video #10

Now here’s another video about the Himba of Namibia, where you can see more footage of the women applying the red ochre to their bodies. In video 10, called “Eco Africa: Namibia’s Himba Tribe,” you can also see the unique hairstyles the Himba women have.

Video #11

Now I’m going to talk about some cultures in Thailand. Video 11 is called, “Hill Tribes Northern Thailand Karen Long Neck Village Chiang Rai.” In this video, you can see the metal rings that some women place on their legs as a body decoration, and you can also see the elaborate headdresses some wear as well. In addition, you can see some women who wear numerous metal rings around their neck, which stretches their necks.

Video #12

Now here’s another video, called “Why Do These Women Stretch Their Necks?” by National Geographic. This video also shows women who wear brass rings around their necks and on their legs. This video is unable to be embedded, so check it out at this link.

Must Watch Cultural Anthropology Videos Body Art. A woman with several brass rings around her neck.

Video #13

I have already talked about an indigenous group of people in Brazil who make headbands out of white feathers. Now, in video 13, called “Aislados – ¡Ahora en Alta Calidad! (Parte 2),” you can view more footage of these people, and see the large wooden lip plugs that decorate their faces. This video is also unable to be embedded, so check it out at this link.

Must Watch Cultural Anthropology Videos Body Art. Person with a large lip plate.

Video #14

Now I’d like to share another video of women who wear brass rings on their necks and other parts of their bodies. In video 14, called “Kayan 1994 MaeHongSon,” you can see more footage of this practice, and the process where the rings are placed on the body.

Video #15

Now I’m going to talk about a few videos about tattooing. Video 15 is called “Traditional Tattoos: Fang Od (Whang Od) and Kalinga Tattooing in the Philippines.” In this video, you can watch one of the last people doing traditional tattooing in the Philippines. Watch as she creates a tattoo using traditional methods.

Video #16

Want to see more tattooing done by traditional methods in the Philippines? Check out video 16, which is another documentary of the same woman tattoo artist from the last video. This video is called, “The Last Kalinga Tattoo Artist, Whang Od.” Watch the traditional process of tattooing with a bamboo stick and a thorn from a lemon tree.

Video #17

Can’t get enough of the traditional tattooing from the Philippines? Video 17 is called. “This 101-Year-Old Tattoo Artist Is the Last of Her Kind.” This video is yet another documentary about the same woman who is the last traditional tattoo artist of her kind.

Video #18

Now, in video 18, you can learn about traditional tattoos in Hawaiian culture. This video is called, “Traditional Tattoos In Hawaii.” In this culture, the person getting the tattoo does not get to choose the design they want–it is chosen for them.

Video #19

Next, in video 19, called “Polynesian Tattoos: The Art of Ink,” you can learn about traditional Polynesian tattoos. In Polynesian culture, tattoos help make sure traditions aren’t forgotten.

Video #20

Video 20 is called “Exploring New Zealand’s Ancient Tattoo Identity.” In this video, you can learn about ancient tattoos in New Zealand. In these traditions, tattoos connect people to their ancestors and their land.

Video #21

Next is video 21, called “Nā Loea: The Masters.” In this video, you will learn more about traditional tattooing in Hawaiian culture. You’ll meet a tattoo artist who re-discovers their culture through tattooing.

Video #22

Now on to video 22, called “Traditional Tebori Tattoos In Japan.” In this video, you will learn about traditional tattoos in Japan. Meet a tattoo artist who has to hide his tattoos, because of the way the Japanese view tattoos today.

Video #23

In this next video, #23, called “What Tattoos Look Like Around the World,” you can learn about tattoos in different cultures. Many cultures have practiced tattooing for thousands of years, and this video will teach you a little more about this topic.

Video #24

Video 24 is called, “Extreme Lip Plates on Suri Women.” In this video, you will meet the Suri tribe, who live in Ethiopia. The women of this tribe have their lower teeth knocked out, and their lower lip stretched to hold a large clay lip plate.

Video #25

It is not just indigenous people who do body art. Many westernized people do things like paint themselves with makeup and have tattoos and body piercings. So in this last video, number 25, you can see a young woman from Rome who has over 40 body art procedures done, including facial piercings, scarification, implants, and tattoos. This video is called, “I Started My Extreme Body Mod Aged 11.”

Learn More

I hope you enjoyed this list of “must watch” Cultural Anthropology videos on body art! If you enjoyed the video version of this blog post, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel (link is here) so you can get updates each time I post a new video. You can also view my social media posts using this hashtag: #ANTH4U.

Want to learn more about Cultural Anthropology and body art? Check out my two blog posts, Anthropology Online: Real-Life Examples of Body Art and Anthropological Concepts: Body Art.

Also, be sure to check out these articles:

Thanks for reading!