A documentary series exploring the reasons behind the last indigenous tattoos, scarifications and piercings.
Film maker Maellyn Macintosh sets out to travel across the world in search of the last traditional body modifications.
SACRED SKIN IN INDIA: The first episode.
Film maker Maellyn Macintosh travels to remote regions of India to document the indigenous communities who use tattooing and piercing as an essential way of life, for healing, as a form of currency and as a form of religious devotion.
Tattoos, piercing and scarification are now becoming mainstream and the taboos surrounding them are slowly vanishing. But where do they come from and why were they used?
Indigenous communities have cut, coloured, pierced and shaped the body for centuries as part of complex rituals; for identity, beauty, healing, spirituality, coming-of-age ceremonies, and even occasionally as punishments. There are still some communities who live as they did hundreds of years ago but most are being forced to integrate into western society, by threats to their land, resources and customs. Maellyn wants to tell their stories before they are lost forever.
Maellyn became fascinated by body modification while filming with a group of modern body modification artists and performers in London. Her curiosity lead her to begin researching the origins of these practices and in December 2010 she took a camera and made a trip from Kathmandu in Nepal, through Central India to Southern India. In Nepal she met the older tribeswomen with beautiful tattoos, whose grandchildren wouldn't dream of tattooing in fear of not being offered work. In Central India she met the fascinating Baiga tribe, natives of the forest who use plant medicine in their tattoos, which are also placed on pressure points for healing. The women of this tribe wear their tattoos with pride as they are considered a currency which can be passed on to the next life. She also met the nomadic and elusive Ramnami community, a low caste people whose facial and full body tattoos bear the name of the upper caste god, Ram.
Now she will return to spend time with these communities to understand what tattooing means to them, documenting the ceremonies, healings and tattooing process. She will also travel to Orissa to spend time with the spectacular tribes of that region with their beautiful tattoos and piercings.
Maellyn has chosen to crowd-fund the first episode, taking the project one step at a time. If she is able to raise more than the initial stretch goal, this will be used to begin the next episode.
As part of the project she will also create a colourful photography book, to document her travels and the stories of the people she meets, using Lomography cameras to highlight the colourful peoples and bright landscapes of the region. Here are some pictures we took as a test at Seven Seas Tattoos in Eindhoven, The Netherlands:
She will also take small instant cameras to give to the communities so that they can document their own practices and have something to keep for themselves. This will be one way to ensure that future generations don't forget the ways of their ancestors.
For us, this is the start of a long adventure, many journeys and fascinating stories. This is just the beginning, and we are so grateful that you have chosen to be a part of it!
Director/Producer/Presenter/Camera and Editor
Maellyn is a London based film maker with over 10 years experience directing, filming and editing documentaries, promos, music, event and fashion videos, as well as ethnography. She has filmed in Italy, France, Germany, Ibiza, India, The Netherlands, The Middle East and throughout the UK.
She is the Director of Sacred Skin Ltd, the company she set up for this documentary series. She is the driving force behind the project and has worked tirelessly to make it a reality for many years. She is primarily interested in documenting alternate ways of living, altered states of consciousness and marginalised communities.
Dr. Lars Krutak, Phd.
Expert Advisor, Consultant
Lars Krutak is the world’s foremost tattoo anthropologist. He is also the presenter of the Discovery series, ‘Tattoo Hunter’, where he journeyed to meet indigenous communities to understand the reasons for their tattoos, and earned the right to be marked as they are.
He has worked as a consultant on three major National Geographic television documentaries and has published numerous books including, ‘Spiritual Skin; Magical Tattoos & Scarification’, ‘The Tattooing Arts of Tribal Women’, and ‘Kalinga Tattoo, Ancient and Modern Expressions of the Tribal’.
In addition he has worked as a photojournalist for many international publications. His body of work is unparalleled and his knowledge of tattooing communities spans almost every continent.
His contribution to ‘Sacred Skin’ is invaluable.
Helena Appio is an award winning Director/ Producer with over 20 years experience in television, including 18 years at the BBC where she became a Commissioning Executive in BBC Factual Entertainment and Documentaries.
As a Director her work has included Inside Story, Modern Times, 40 Minutes, Childrens’ Hospital and many more. As Commissioning Executive she has been commissioned and worked as Executive Producer on many series, including Changing Rooms, Ground Force, Dealing with Dickenson and The Queens Cavalry.With a lifelong interest in anthropology, her films explore the intricacies of different cultures and multiculturalism.
Helena is also a senior lecturer and professional trainer and has lectured at many of the best institutions across the UK. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team.
WHAT WE NEED AND WHAT YOU GET
We need to make this film and by helping fund it, you become a part of it! You will get the film as a digital download or DVD, the photography book as an e-book or hard copy, a special edition, signed DVD with behind-the-scenes footage , credits including Associate Producer, Executive Producer, Producer, and a great sponsorship package. Backers also get their names on the website Thank You page, in the book and in the film credits, respectively.
To make a series of documentaries with a full crew is incredibly expensive, so we will start one step at a time, one episode at a time with a very small crew. Maellyn has been directing, filming and editing her own films for many years, and she will be the backbone of the production, but she will also need help along the way. We need a minimum of £35,000 to cover all the basic costs, and the funds will go towards:
- Travel, food and accommodation
- Crew, guides, translations
- Camera and equipment rental, purchase
- Photography film and processing
- Editing, colour grading and sound edit
- Music soundtrack
- The costs of fulfilling the rewards, including the book, download and DVD
If we don't make all the funds Maellyn will travel to India and film as much as possible. She will edit the documentary, but this may take longer as she fits it in to her spare time. If the goal is exceeded, we will be able to make a better film, adding an extra cameraman for starters. Over and above this, the money will go towards the next episode.
- By contributing to Sacred Skin in India, you will enable us to document a part of our living history
- You will also be contributing towards creating a photographic archive for the communities themselves to keep
- We would hope that Sacred Skin becomes an educational tool and helps to promote tolerance, appreciation and acceptance of other cultures
- We believe that indigenous communities and their lands should be protected, and hope that our films go some way to highlighting the needs of the people we meet
Other Ways You Can Help
Some people just can’t contribute, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help:
- Please share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and any other site you love.
- Use the Indiegogo share tools!
Team on This Campaign: