Tribal Patterns and Cultural Identity – Trend Forecast


In 2011 there were still 100 un-contacted tribes in the world.
In 2009 Photographer Jimmy Nelson began his personal quest to document 29 disappearing tribes from around the globe. His book ‘before they pass away’ documents this journey.

Many of the world’s ecosystems and areas of high biodiversity are under threat which are also home to rural communities and indigenous peoples, whose livelihoods and cultures are closely dependent on the natural environment.

As our resource-intensive, industrialized populations continue to grow, it becomes more apparent what we have lost or are at risk of losing, not only in terms of biodiversity, but also in terms of mankind’s own cultural and ethnic diversity.
And as we become more aware of the fragility of our planet, its life forms and cultures, we begin to appreciate the sheer abundance of its diversity. In particular mans ingenuity in creating objects that help him adapt to his limited surroundings. Many of the artifacts and traditions which are highlighted by this concern have been developed over hundreds or even thousands of years and can offer us new/old ways to look at our own world.
It is estimated that one language dies every 14 days. By the next century it can be reckoned that nearly half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will have disappeared.What is lost when a language goes silent?

Tribal Jimmy Nelson


As borders between nations and civilizations become more fragile and many societies more multi-cultural there is often a search for reassurance and familiarity. People look to create associations which have more meaningful connections and affinities not found in their own immediate community. These can be cultural, ethnic, religious or tribal. We look to connect with people who have similar values and beliefs, those who have the same tastes and “like” the same things.
We look for our own tribes.

People look to create associations which have more meaningful connections and affinities not found in their own immediate community.

At the same time there are many more displaced people in the world. Many people emigrate either out of choice but more often by necessity or force. What impact does this have on a persons cultural identity?
Even within more regular lifestyles we continue to travel much more and further from “home,” as a result the connections to our origins, our family and friends, are often strained or broken. A consequence is that tribal, cultural and ethnic integrity becomes more important to us, which we hold onto through language, cuisine, dress and shared values and beliefs.
In urban communities the definitions between sub-cultures and fashion tribes are now also less defined than they were previously. With our now limitless communication and access to a truly global market place for product is there more diversity or more uniformity?

Tribal patterns 2Tribal patternsTribal Mark Hodgson Lesotho