The World Inspires

Art of Adventure Magazine

The Colourful World of Body Modification

Scarification in Benin

Lars Krutak

Scarification in Benin

Emily Draper & Jon Derksen

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Body modification has become more and more popular over the years. It seems like wherever you look someone has been modified. There are three main kinds of modification: cosmetic, tribal and medical. There are many reasons for and ways in which people modify their bodies, and such modification can carry serious risks.

Cosmetic

Cosmetic tattooing is a permanent marking that is made by a series of small puncture wounds. This mark is usually made with a needle or a group of needles an eighth of an inch deep in the skin. The risks of tattooing include infection and contraction of blood borne diseases.  One faces such risks anytime there’s a breakage in the skin. Other risks include scarring/keloid formation and allergic reactions. Licensed tattoo artists work with single-use needles to guard against such hazards.

There are many reasons why people get tattoos, but primarily they are sentimentally or identify driven.

Piercing is normally done with a needle or a piercing gun. Using a piercing gun has been dubbed harmful because it can wreck the tissue around the piercing. Safepiercing.org says, “Though slightly pointed in appearance, most ear piercing studs are quite dull. Piercing must therefore be accomplished by using excessive pressure over a larger surface area in order to force the metal shaft through the skin. The effect on the body is more like a crush injury than a piercing and causes similar tissue damage.” Guns are mainly only used for ear lobes.  Piercings carry much the same risk as getting tattooed. If skin is broken diseases, scars and allergies may result.  There are a multitude of reasons for piercings, ranging from coming of age to simple novelty or fashion.

Tribal

Tribal body modification is definitely ‘harsher’ and generally more painful  than cosmetic modification. While cosmetic tattoos are done with sanitary tools, tribal tattoos are created by cutting designs into the skin and then rubbing the wound with a mixture of animal fat and ashes, plant-based dyes or other products. Some cultures make their tattoos by ‘stabbing’ or tapping ink into the skin using sharp sticks or animal bones. The risk of infection, diseases or allergies is obviously greater in tribal body modification.

Lars poses with a member of the Mentawai in the Philippines

Almost always, there is religious, ritualistic or spiritual significance behind tribal tattooing and bod mod.  For example, to the Mentawai people of West Sumatra tattoos represent “…identity and a personal or communal reflection of the people’s relationship to nature, called arat subulungan, although there are motivational and design differences from region to region and among clans”.

Among the Apa Tani people of Northern Arunachal Pradesh, women traditionally wore large wooden nose plugs and received tattoos on their faces.  These modifications were done primarily  to ‘uglify’ the women as a deterrent, as Apa Tani women were reputed to be the most beautiful in that part of the Himalayas, and rival tribes would often seek to kidnap them.

Naga tribesmen in Eastern India were tattooed after a successful hunt or raid on a enemy village, while the women received a tattoo for every significant milestone (first period, marriage, pregnancy etc.).

It’s interesting to note that tattoo masters are/were usually women, often of noble lineage.

Medical

Medical body modifications are also quite prevalent.  These might include surgeries (including pins etc.), implants, and liposuction. Implants and liposuction can be both medical and cosmetic. Surgeries have modified people most. There are a ton of different surgeries that have kept people alive and healthy. Plastic surgery has helped to rebuild people’s bodies when they couldn’t have lived otherwise; on the more vain, cosmetic side, it has also given people that pert-perfect nose. Transplants modify bodies by replacing a failed body part with a functioning one, like a heart, lung or kidney. When one breaks a bone one can get pins put in place to keep ones bones stable.

Medical body modification has benefited the population greatly. There are huge risks in medical body modification, but if you don’t take the risk you might die anyways. Talking to a doctor is always best if you have any medical body modifications that need to be executed.

Body modification has been in and out of vogue over millennia, but it is all the rage these days. One sees it on the baby with pierced ears, on the teenager who just got his first tattoo, and on the grandparent who just received a face lift. Body modification plays a big role among tribal people and urban folk alike, and like any physical alteration carries with it inherent risks.  But for many, the benefits far outweigh these risks.

Whether its cosmetic, tribal or medical, it doesn’t look mike body modification will be stopping anytime soon.

Print Friendly

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Showcase

    .take_a_hike

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Showcase

    S.A.L.T.S 2016- Snapshots of a week at sea

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Showcase

    Story Time With Derksen: Loose in the Land of the Dawnlit Mountains

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Showcase

    Bucket Lists: It’s a Wonderful Life

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Showcase

    Q & A with Lars Krutak, World Authority on Tribal Body Modification

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Showcase

    .take_a_hike

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Showcase

    S.A.L.T.S 2016- Snapshots of a week at sea

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Imagine

    Why YOU should do an exchange

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Discover

    Atlanta: A City Misunderstood

  • The Colourful World of Body Modification

    Explore

    Pipiwai Hiking Trail

The World Inspires
The Colourful World of Body Modification