Deutsch / English

Kalinga Tattoo

KALINGA TATTOO: ANCIENT AND MODERN EXPRESSIONS OF THE TRIBAL is a photographic masterpiece that explores the vanishing art of Kalinga tribal tattooing in the remote mountains of the northern Philippines. Combining the visionary talents of numerous international photographers and the words and stories of nearly fifty Kalinga elders, Kalinga Tattoo is the first book to tell the story of this incredibly rich tradition of indigenous body art that is believed to be 1,000 years old. Here’s a rare trove of tattoo motifs, variations and interpretations which can reveal new perspectives for every interested tattooist.

The journey begins with tattoo anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak’s first encounter with the last Kalinga tattoo artist, the 91-year-old Whang-Od, and is followed by the moving poetry and song of tattooed Kalinga author and elder Natividad Sugguiyao. Sugguiyao’s narratives provide an insider’s perspective regarding the history and significance of Kalinga batok (tattoo), and they establish new ways of reading the messages encoded in this ancient art form of the skin.

Krutak continues with an historical exploration entitled HISTORY OF KALINGA TATTOO ART that focuses on those cultural institutions that were deeply intertwined with Kalinga tattooing itself. Dramatic images of tattooed men and women taken over the last 100 years and colorful village scenes and landscapes accentuate the chapter.

Lars’ detailed study into the significance of Kalinga tattooing proceeds with an illustrated discussion of the artistic motifs that comprise Kalinga tattoo art. This chapter, KALINGA TATTOOING MOTIFS, is an absolute must read for anyone seeking knowledge (spiritual or otherwise) of the real roots of tribal tattooing practices that are largely disappearing around the world today.

Because warrior culture, headhunting, and religious ritual permeated nearly every facet of Kalinga tattooing practice, WARRIOR CULTURE OF THE KALINGA focuses on these customs. Krutak recounts his experiences with Kalinga warriors (old and new) and breathes life into long-forgotten Kalinga literature revolving around human sacrifice and other ceremonies associated with the human hunt. The nature of the research is outstanding and wonderfully detailed, and the words (and actions) of his Kalinga informants are truly unforgettable. What follows these texts is a remarkably beautiful photographic exhibition of the last generation of Kalinga warriors in vivid color who earned their tattoos on the field of battle.

THE LAST KALINGA TATTOO ARTIST looks at the life and work of Whang-Od, the last Kalinga mambabatok or tattooist, who dedicated her life to the art of her ancestors. Krutak, who lived with the master artisan for nearly two weeks, exposes for the first time in history the biography of this unique woman whofor more than seventy years has plied the skins of countless generations of Kalinga men and women with thorns and other natural tools.

Finally, MARK OF THE FOUR WAVES TRIBE documents the artistic achievements of a growing number of young Filipino-Americans who since 1998 have each made a conscious individual effort to revive the indigenous tattooing traditions of the Kalinga and other tribal peoples of the Philippines. Whether through hand-tapping, hand-poking, or machined work, the Tribe’s dedication to “The Movement” has resulted in the revitalization of timeworn tribal designs with new design concepts that are beginning to approach the longstanding accomplishments of Polynesian artists who guided the tattoo renaissance across the Pacific in the early 1980s. For Krutak and Sugguiyao, the Tribe represents the very best of contemporary tribal tattoo culture because they dynamically express the enduring strength of time-tested indelible traditions that firmly anchor indigenous and modern concepts of identity on the skin for all to see.

ISBN 978-3-934020-86-3
Large Format 24,5 x 31,5 cm
424 pages
texts in German and English
334 photographs in full color
Hardcover thread-bound title with gold embossing
Original price 98€ (incl. tax)
Now 69,99€ !
Dear customer, if you want to pay by credit card, please order the books at our reliable service partner ”Hermansky Books” in the Czech Republic.


"If you have even a passing interest in tribal tattooing and the origins of the Kalinga tattoo, this book will slake your thirst – or increase it even further!"



”German publisher ’Edition Reuss’ has a richly deserved reputation for producing some of the finest tattoo books on the planet. Their production values and attention to detail are second to none. This latest offering will certainly not disappoint.”
Kalinga Tattoo documents the vanishing tattoo art and traditions of the Kalinga tribe in the remote mountains of the northern Philippines.
This book is a large and weighty tome, as we have come to expect from Edition Reuss, whith over 400 pages and more than 300 beautiful photographs. It may seem extravagant to dedicate such a hughe book to just one tribe but a dip inside Kalinga Tattoo will show that it is well worth it. The book combines the talents of several international photographers, the research and insights of tattoo anthropologist and presenter of the recent Tattoo Hunter TV series, Dr Lars Krutak, and the reminisences of nearly fifty tribal elders including the last Kalinga tattoo artist, 91-year-old Whang-Od who has tattooed her people for over 70 years.
Dr Krutak documents the history, the stories, the motifs and the meanings of this complex and fascinating tattoo culture that is believed to be 1,000 years old. Dramtic images of tattooed men and women taken over the last 100 years help bring it all to life.
Kalinga Tattoo is such an important book, and the first of several that Edition Reuss have in the pipeline, covering other tribal tattoo cultures. These volumes ensure that the knowledge and imagery of thousands of years of tattoo history is preserved and maybe even revived. Incidentally, copies of the book have been given to the Kalinga people and are being used to teach the younger generations about their ancestors’ proud tattoo past.
TOTAL TATTOO (United Kingdom)



”A simply stunning book on both Kalinga and the nature of human beings and their cultures. Totally essential.” 
Tattoo art books don’t come any better than this – they never have and it’s hard to see how they ever will. The production values of this company are true to their German roots for quality and they’re no slouches in the quantity department either.
With that said, it should come as no surprise that Kalinga Tattoo is (another) master-stroke from Edition Reuss and credit must be given to author Lars Krutak for having the vision to put something of this magnitude together authoritatively and compelling at the same time. He begins his forward with a tale of how he was first met by Whang-Od who at the time was focussing on a pig’s liver to see what omen’s he may have brought to the village.
From here on, we should know that we’re in the presence of something special as page after page of captivating imagery leaps off the page. Very little commentary is needed to tell more of the story than the pictures already do, but when it does appear, it’s for a very good reason.
A simply stunning book on both Kalinga and the nature of human beings and their cultures. Totally essential.
SKIN DEEP (United Kingdom)