Posted February 28, 2018 by GP Manalo in Movies/TV

The Cultural Influences of Marvel’s Black Panther

4.) Tribal Influences


The Throne Room. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Each of the five tribes in Wakanda owes its aesthetics and traditions to a real life tribe in Africa, since it was the filmmakers’ intention to pay homage to the continent’s many cultures. Despite the futuristic Vibranium technology, the crew of Black Panther strove to emphasize the source material’s undeniable African roots. As the movie’s makeup artist, Tym Buacharern, revealed, each tribe was was paired up with one in real life:

“…For the River tribe, we based their looks on the Tsami and Suri tribes of southwest Ethiopia and Wagenia fishermen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Jabari tribe… are based on the Kano tribe in Ethiopia, and Dagos tribe in Mali. The Merchant tribe is based on the Tuareg people in Saharan and Swahilian regions. The Mining tribe is based on the Samburu Tribe in North-Central Kenya and Dinka tribe in South Sudan.”

The Border tribe is based on the BaSotho people from the Kingdom of Lesotho, who are known as horsemen and for their Seanamarena blankets which is used to combat the harsh climate. On the other hand, the Golden Tribe (T’Challa’s royal family) has a more universally African approach to its design, as seen in its sigil – a sun – which is commonplace in real life African culture.

This also extends to traditions like heeding advice from a council of elders and each character’s unique look, defined by: clay/chalk markings, hairstyles, headdresses, lip plates, neck rings, ritualized scarification, tattoos, and many more.  



GP Manalo

G.P. Manalo is a student by day, and a resident tortured writer by night. Writing to keep him sane from all the Business School papers and presentations piling up each week.