Return of The Tribal

0892816104.01._SX140_SY225_SCLZZZZZZZ_[1]A book by Rufus Camphausen was published in 1997, with a sub header: A celebration of body adornment.  Itis a book who made attempts to look at all types of body adornment from tribal to urban, from piercing to body painting, from scarification to tattoos, and from genital mutilation to structural modifications of the ears, legs & neck. 




The book has a moderate amount of written content, a mix of informative chapters and detailed photo captions.  It talked about the great variety  of practices, aiming at adorning, beautifying, or even modifying the human body are the most ancient and most direct expression of human creativity, known and practiced all over the globe and at all times.

Dayak Iban 2

Ear elongation from Dayak Kenyah

A woman from Dayak Kenyah

Huli Tribe in Papua New Guinea

Woodabe Man of Niger










One of the features that makes this such a good reference is the breadth of pictures and notes on scarification. There are many detailed pictures showing different types of African scarification, with notes on which tribes are wearing the designs and for what purposes that culture practices scarification. 

Lip plate on a Suri Woman Ethiopia

Suri Tribe Ethiopia

Modern body scarification

Fresh body scarification






Return Of The Tribal is a book that delves into body adornment cross-culturally and throughout history. The book is relatively short, but is packed with great photos and content.  It doesn’t talk about body art in a superficial stand point but considers it as an art with a very ancient history.

Young Marubo Tribe Woman, West Brazil

Facial moko on a Maori woman

Tao Moko of Maori Tribe, New Zealand





“A veritable travelogue through the geography of human imagination. Camphausen proves convincingly that today’s body modification trend is more like a revival than a fad.”
(Curio )


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