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Chris Rainier, “Ancient Marks: Sacred Origins of Tattoos and Body Marking"

Sacred Origins of Tattoos and Body Marking by National Geographic photographer Chris Rainier, music by Anoushka Shankar

Ancient Marks: The Sacred Origins of Tattoos and Body Marking, 2005 (11:00) explores the intrinsic connection between mankind’s culture and the tradition of marking the human body dating back two thousand years, with tattoos and scarification as a form of initiation, beauty, and highly ritualized ornamentation. This tradition continues in today’s modern Culture. The Ancient Marks project, through photography and text, communicates man’s need to adorn the sacred geography of the human body.

If the skin of the average human body was laid flat as a map, a sheet of parchment, it would spread over twenty square feet. The human form, whether isolated in the forests of the Amazon, swept clean by the bitter winds of the Arctic, or soothed by sunset rains of Polynesia became through the brilliance of inspired artistry a map of culture and myth, a sacred geography of the soul, all expressed by the simplicity of forms painted, carved, incised, or etched upon the canvas of the body.

Photographs by Chris Rainier Video Director / Editor, Ethan Boehme Music composed and performed by Anoushka Shankar

Photographs from the book, Ancient Marks by Chris Rainier


Ancient Marks toured through Streaming Museum’s international network of big screens, and was exhibited at Digital Art @Google, a 3-exhibition and public programs series at Google headquarters, NYC in 2010, curated and produced by Streaming Museum founder, Nina Colosi.


National Geographic explorer/photographer Chris Rainer uses photography and advanced digital and web technology to honor and document threatened cultures.

Chris Rainier is considered one of the leading documentary photographers working today. His life’s mission is to film the remaining natural wilderness and indigenous cultures around the globe and to use images to create social change. Rainier co-directs the National Geographic Society’s Cultural Ethnosphere and All Roads Photography Programs. He is a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine, contributing photographer for National Geographic Adventure magazine; a correspondent on photography for NPR’s Day to Day radio show. Rainier heads National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project, which is documenting the world’s most endangered languages.

Rainier has traveled to seven continents, making extensive expeditions throughout Africa, Antarctica, and New Guinea. His photography has been seen in Time, Life, Smithsonian, the New York Times, Outside and publications of the National Geographic Society. Rainier has photographed global culture and conflict, famine, and war in such places as Somalia, Sarajevo/Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Iraq. He has won awards for his photography, including the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award given by the Explorers Club for adventure stories. Rainier’s photography has been shown and collected by museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York, the George Eastman House International Museum in Rochester, New York, and the United Nations. His books include: Keepers Of The Spirit, Where Masks Still Dance: New Guinea, Ancient Marks. From 1980 to 1985, Rainier was photographic assistant to Ansel Adams – the noted landscape photographer.


Pt. Ravi Shankar’s third child and second daughter is Anoushka Shankar who was born on 9th June 1981 whose mother is Sukanya Rajan and she had her training on Sitar under her father himself becoming ready to give her first public performance at the age of 13, while her first album was released in 1998, which was to be followed by another five studio albums, her albums now being released every year.

She played sitar in 2003 to commemorate the first death anniversary of George Harrison in the performance called Concert for George, while in 2004 she worked for Ancient Marks which is Ethan Boehme’s short film, by composing music and recording sound track. It was in the same year, she got nominated for the Best Supporting Actress for her debut role in Dance like a Man, in India’s National Film Awards, while in 2006 she played Sitar for the film Water on the soundtrack.

Anoushka is a honour’s graduate of 1999, she chose to take her career in music and she is well settled in married life, with her husband British Director Joe Wright and her son Zubin Shankar Wright who was born on 22 February 2011.


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