The Jomon Tribe project delves into Japan’s prehistoric mystery with a stunning new photographic exhibition.

Tokyo’s TAV Gallery is currently playing host to a stunning photo exhibition called “Jomon Tribe,” which melds some of Japan’s most prehistoric markings with 21st century tattoo designs. The collaborative art project between underground culture photographer Ryoichi “Keroppy” Maeda and tattoo artist Taku Oshima, who’s spent years travelling the world researching tribal practices and designs, explores the mystery of tribal patterns found on clay figurines from Japan’s Jomon period (14,000 – 300 BCE), which some researchers believe to be evidence of tattoo culture. While there’s been no conclusive findings to either discount or confirm the theory, it’s an intriguing concept that’s become the focus of the new photo collection.


The photographs show distinctive spirals and cordlike patterns from the Jomon period (14,000 – 300 BCE) painted onto real bodies to show the “primitive spirit of humankind”.



The inscription of these ancestral designs on contemporary bodies follows the practice of “modern primitives” in order “to show how the primitive spirit of humankind will become a new identity to survive the postmodern life of the 21st century.”


▼ Pictures from the gallery’s Facebook page show a huge variety of beautiful body art on display.

We’ve seen many photos of tribal tattoos from other island nations and Japan’s own native Ainu, who are said to have descended from Jomon tribes, but this is the first time we’ve ever see Jomon markings on the human body.

The notion of Jomon tattoos is a fascinating idea that brings up more questions than it answers, inspiring us to learn more about the mysterious culture of Japan’s prehistoric people. If you’d like to check out the thought-povoking exhibition, it’s on at the TAV Gallery in Tokyo’s Suginammi Ward until 27 September.

Exhibition Information
TAV Gallery
Address: Tokyo-to, Suginamu-ku, Asagayakita, 1-31-2
Hours: 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays)

Source: Kai-You
Images: TAV Gallery