To look more fierce, brave, attractive, powerful and wealthy, people of different cultures all over the world decorate their bodies and faces.
Tattooing is one of the oldest known forms of decorating the human body. Egyptians tattooed the dead to protect them against evil spirits. Mummies from 2000 B.C. have been found with tattoos, and anthropologists have even found prehistoric tattooed men.
Some of the native Polynesian people of New Zealand known as the Maori, wore very intricate full facial tattos. Each one was so unique it was like a thumbprint. Many years ago, when Maori chiefs signed documents and deeds with Europeans, they drew pictures of their face patterns as a signature.
The Japanese also use tattooing (Irezumi) and consider it an art form, and preserve the works of great tattoo masters in museums.
The Massai people from Africa wear beaded ear flaps to show they are married.
In some cultures, wearing earrings or ear plugs brings attention to hearing, behaving well and "knowing." In Africa, the men and women of the Suya wear large discs of wood in their ears. When they aren't wearing the disks, they wrap their big dangling ear lobes all around their ears.
The Paaung women of Burma stretch their necks by wearing brass rings, adding rings as they get older.
Their necks can be
anywhere from six to twelve inches long. You guessed it, the longer the neck, the more beautiful!
Head Shaping is another way of achieving a distinctive look. It was practiced by people in prehistoric times, by the Greeks, Romans, Indians in North America, Africans and some peoples in Europe. This process was started on the soft head of a baby, by binding its skull tightly with cloth, or by putting the baby in a cradle with a shaped wooden headboard. An elongated skull was thought to be more attractive, refined and to give you more room for important thoughts.
Sometimes the nose is a focal point. In New Guinea, it is customary to put shells, tusks and feathers through a hole in the nose, in order to flatten it out. This is considered very attractive. Certain Polynesian peoples even break their noses to get a flatter look.
Sometimes people are like peacocks, dressing up to attract that special someone's attention.
Among the Fulani nomads in Nigeria, the men compete to lure girls by getting all done up in jewelry, painting wild patterns on their faces and wearing colorful beaded costumes. They also exaggerate their eyes and make wild facial expressions.
In our contemporary society, some people pierce their ears, have their noses made smaller, have their teeth straightened or capped or made whiter, get hair implants and extensions, have fat sucked off their hips or have other parts plumped up. All in the pursuit of the ultimate personal statement.
I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
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