Over a period of their existence, the cultures around the world have developed unique life styles that sometimes baffle the cultural sensibilities of the people from the other parts of the world. One of them is Body modification. It refers to bringing about deliberate physical changes in bodies.
The reasons vary and have their basis on the unique cultural sensibilities of these cultures, like enhancement of beauty, display of unique tribal traits, and an act of religious ablutions or as a passage to adulthood. Here let us have a look at a few of them-
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People from times immemorial have associated stretched ears with economic status and beauty. Perhaps the weight of ornament worn on ears dangled them sufficiently to stretch them over a period, and therefore a person with stretched ears was considered a man of high social ranking. This possibly explains the reason behind the idea. Some cultures have gone to the extent of introducing bamboo or metal rings right into the ear lobes instead of suspending ornaments from them.
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Not all the modifications serve the purpose of beauty enhancement. The women of Apatani tribe in northeast of India put large wooden plugs on their noses to make themselves look less attractive to others. The Apatami women were regarded the most beautiful of all. So to prevent the men of rival tribes from stealing their women, the Apatanis devised this way of saving their women.
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This blood chilling body art is an extension of tattooing and is unique to a few tribes around the world. This involves cutting off bits and pieces of flesh from the body of a person to create a unique design that has three-dimensional appearance. The most common reason behind it is to initiate the adolescent girls and boys into adulthood and forms a part of elaborate initiation rites. An alligator type marking on the bodies of Sepik River tribes in Papua, New Guinea is an example of it.
The distortion of lips to accommodate a disc as large as a CD is in fact a beauty enhancement techniques for at least a few tribes in Africa and Amazonia. The custom is though quiet old and the earliest evidence for it we find in Sudan and Ethiopia as early as in 8700 BC.
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In Chinese culture, men consider women with small feet erotic. However, not all the women grow up with tiny feet, so in the past, the Chinese families emasculated the feet of the girls from a very tender age by binding them in gauzes and then fitted them in tiny hard shoes to arrest their growth. An average length of 4 inch was desirable. The practice has thankfully died out but older women in China still sport tiny feet, showing that the practice was prevalent in not so distant past.
If the modern acts of body design like tattooing and piercing of skin seems bit too much to you, and put you off, these extreme cases of body modification will certainly give you a new perspective.