Lars Krutak with Gru, a heavily scarified Hamar man of southern Ethiopia.
April 14, 1971 |
Lincoln, Nebraska US
|Known for||Tattoo anthropology|
Dr. Lars Krutak (Lincoln, Nebraska April 14, 1971) is an American anthropologist, photographer, and writer known for his research about tattoo and its cultural background. He produced and hosted the 10-part documentary series Tattoo Hunter on the Discovery Channel which traveled the indigenous world to showcase vanishing art forms of body modification. Today, he works in the Repatriation Office of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Early life and career
Krutak was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to a traveling geologist and university professor who moved the family to Mexico City in 1979 and then to a series of states including Louisiana, Texas, and eventually Colorado where Lars grew up in the small mountain town atmosphere of Rye, Colorado. Krutak attended the University of Colorado at Boulder studying art history and anthropology and upon graduation (1993) he moved to San Francisco to work as an art gallery preparator for Paul Thiebaud, the son of American Pop artist Wayne Thiebaud. In 1996, Krutak attended graduate school at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks where his thesis One Stitch at a Time: Ivalu and Sivuqaq Tattoo focused on the tattooing traditions of the St. Lawrence Island Yupik people.
Krutak briefly attended Cambridge University as a PhD student in 1998 but he returned stateside joining the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution) where he worked as a Repatriation Research Specialist (between 1999–2002) facilitating the return of sacred and ceremonial objects and human remains to indigenous peoples throughout North America and Mexico. Between 1998 and 2003 he also worked for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe as a Democratization Analyst and Applied Anthropologist in several countries of the former Yugoslavia monitoring electoral reforms.
Since 2002, Krutak served as an Anthropological Consultant for three National Geographic Channel productions and was a co-recipient of the 2003 American Book Award in Literature for Akuzilleput Igaqullghet, Our Words Put to Paper Sourcebook in St. Lawrence Island Yupik Heritage and History. His PhD studies at Arizona State University (2005–2009) focused on the socioeconomic impacts of tourism on the Rarámuri people of Mexico's Copper Canyon region. Krutak appeared as a studio guest for the History Channel's Ancient Aliens: Mysterious Rituals episode (2011) where he spoke about shamanism.
Lars Krutak is married to Heidi Rauch, the founder of apparel company Belabumbum and has one daughter, Neena.
Published in 2007, Krutak's The Tattooing Arts of Tribal Women (ISBN 9781898948759) was the first book to focus on the tattooing artistry of indigenous women worldwide. It is based on one decade of field and archival research.
In August 2010, Krutak released a new coffee table book with Edition Reuss on the ancient art of Kalinga tattooing in the Philippines that is entitled Kalinga Tattoo: Ancient and Modern Expressions of the Tribal (ISBN 9783934020863). Co-authored with tattooed Kalinga elder Ms. Natividad Sugguiyao, this book is the first volume to focus on the indelible arts of these Cordilleran people.
In his continued effort to understand how tattoos and other forms of body modification "make" the people who wear them, Krutak has acquired many traditional tattoos including hand-tapped work from the Iban of Borneo, Kalinga of the Philippines, Mentawai of Indonesia; hand-poked art from Theravada Buddhist monks in Thailand; and hand-pricked designs from the Kayabi of the Brazilian Amazon. He also wears approximately one thousand razor and knife-cut scars across his body received from other groups like the Kaningara of Papua New Guinea, Bétamaribé of Benin, the Hamar of Ethiopia, and the Makonde of Mozambique.
Krutak's tattoo research is regularly published internationally in magazines TätowierMagazin (Germany), Total Tattoo (UK) and Skin & Ink Magazine (USA). In September 2012, Lars' new book Magical Tattoos and Scarification: Spiritual Skin. Wisdom. Healing. Shamanic Power. Protection (ISBN 9783943105117) was released by Edition Reuss. This photographic masterwork explores the secret world of magical tattooing and scarification across the tribal world. Based on one decade of Dr. Krutak's field research among animistic and shamanic societies of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Melanesia, Magical Tattoos and Scarification journeys into highly sacred territory to reveal how people utilize ritual body modification to enhance their access to the supernatural.
In 2013, Krutak’s new work on Native American tattooing (i.e., Great Plains and Eastern Woodlands regions) was published by the University of Texas Press in the book Drawing With Great Needles: Ancient Tattoo Traditions of Eastern North America (Aaron Deter-Wolf and Carol Diaz-Granados, eds). Also that year, Krutak's research on ancient and contemporary practices of medicinal tattooing was published in the book "Tattoos and Body Modification in Antiquity" (Zurich Studies in Archaeology 9), edited by Philippe Della Casa and Constanze Witt.
Krutak's research on the history of Native North American tattoo, including contemporary revitalization movements, will be published in the new book "Tattoo Traditions of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary Expressions of Identity" (June 2014).