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Body Adornments Across Cultures: Tattoos and Piercing
People have decorated themselves during the whole course of human history since the earliest tribal period. They have used clothing, jewellery, tattoos, piercing, scars, they have changed their bodies, and painted their skin. Human body serves as a text telling about the perception of beauty at different times and places. If one knows, how to read this text, a stranger’s body can tell much about him or her without any words. In order not to make mistakes in this pursuit, one needs to be aware of differences among various cultures and subcultures in this aspect.
The piercing and tattoos are the most permanent kinds of body adornment. It is impossible or, at least, not easy to get free from them later in the life, so the reasons to be tattooed or pierced must be carefully considered. The functions of body adornments may be divided into several groups by the reasons people use them:
1) be fashionable, as a status symbol (www.streetdirectory.com, www.bodyartforms.com), ‘indication of membership in a unique section of society’(www.bodyartforms.com, Caplan, 2000:XIV), “an event that gives a unique glimpse of the strength and will of the human spirit” (Bhatt [online]) – i.e., belonging.…
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