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Tattoos And Body Piercing Essay

1709 words - 7 pages

Tattoos and body piercing have a history nearly as long as humankind itself does. Compelling evidence has been found that indicates people were altering their bodies as much as 12,000 years ago. Although some people regret them later, tattoos and body piercing allow people to express their own personalities by customizing their bodies and is cheaper and safer than the alternative, plastic surgery. Tattoos and piercing are believed to have begun as a way to distinguish between tribal leaders and followers as well as being used to ward off demons or spirits.Many cultures and tribes still regularly tattoo and pierce their members as a part of tradition, rites of passage and as a sign of maturity and status such as the Fulani people of West Africa and the Makonde tribe of the high plateaus of central east Africa. These tribes have been practicing body piercing and tattooing for as long as the eldest members can recall. Having been passed down from generation to generation, the methods and designs are nearly unchanged since the practice was started. Neill (2004) says that in 1991 two tourists accidentally discovered a five thousand year-old tattooed male frozen in ice while they were hiking in the mountains between Austria and Italy. He was dubbed "ötzi the ice man" and the story was carried in newspapers all over the world. His body was well preserved from being encased in ice and his skin was covered with 57 tattoos.Green (2007) who is the webmaster for tattoosymbol.com relays many interesting facts regarding the oldest known tattoo implements, discussing the earliest evidence of tattoos so far which has been found in France. In a cave in the Pyrenees Mountains of Southern France, tools were found that are believed to be tattoo instruments. They are very similar to many of the primitive tools still used by many remote tribes. These tools were dated to the Upper Paleolithic age, approximately 12,000 years ago. According to DesignBoom.com (2007), Egyptians of the third and fourth dynasties are credited with spreading the art of tattoos throughout the world through relations developed with Crete, Greece, Persia, and Arabia congruent to the construction of the pyramids. The practice is then said to have spread east through Asia then Japan via the Ainu, the western Asian nomads.Body piercing has had a long history as well. The preserved "ötzi the ice man" also had pierced ears and the holes had been enlarged to 7-11mm in diameter. Many African tribes practice piercing and disc insertion as well. Some contribute the modern resurgence of piercing and tattoos in western cultures to musical performers that have piercing and tattoos. People try to emulate those whom they idolize and follow their lead in getting tattoos and piercing. One Miss America Pageant contestant even showed off a naval piercing during the 1997 contest. Tattoos and body piercing allow individual personality expression in an age where many people are trying to be different from...

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