Bizzare, Wild, and Beautiful Body Modifications and their Origins
Tattoos (They aren't so taboo anymore.)
The most common form body modification after ear piercing, tattoos have a place in nearly every culture with unique designs, meanings, and implementation. The word tattoo originates from the Tahitian word "tatu" meaning "to mark something." In the west, tattoos gained and lost popularity with the changing of the tides, but in some non-western cultures, the art of tattoo was an essential and intricate feature.
Maori people use their distinctive tattoos, called Ta Moko, to show their personal journeys. They aren't just decorative, they are part of their life lived. Each pattern carries different meanings and the varied combinations of those patterns tell unique stories.Photo: Zealand Tattoo. All rights reserved.
Japanese tattoo, or Irezumi, has a storied history. Initially used for spiritual and status symbols, tattoos were eventually outlawed in Japan and became associated with criminals and the yakuza. Even today, tattoos are still frowned upon in Japan but tattoo artisans are still trained in the traditional art of Irezumi.Photo: Wikipedia. All rights reserved.
Scarification (Do you want to know how I got these scars?)
Scarification is a process of cutting, branding, or marring the skin in artistic or ritualistic ways. Most recently seen in the movie Black Panther, the villain Erik Killmonger scarred a bump into his skin for every kill.Photo: Steemit. All rights reserved.
Scarification is nothing new, however, the body modification practice is common among many living African tribes dating back centuries. The uses of scarification are those of ritualistic rites of passage for young men and women attaining greater status or positions in their family or tribal group. Not strictly for rituals or for religious purposes either, just as tattoos are used for their artistic beauty some also use scarification for aesthetic purposes.
Subdermal Implantation (Pearls before swine, right ladies?)
Subdermal implantation is a body modification of putting small shaped objects under the skin to raise the epidermis or skin into distinct patterns. Everything from bumps to create "horns" on a person's head to skull implants to create the impression of a skull under the skin.Photo: Skull Appreciation Society. All rights reserved.
Past subdermal implantation was common in the form of pearling or genital beading as far back as 1400s China where the skin under a man's genitals was implanted with small pearls or other adornments for the purposes of enhancing sexual pleasure, personal aesthetics, or identification. Care to put some pearls on it, ladies?
More recently, credit can be attributed to body modification artist Steve Haworth of Arizona for popularizing modern subdermal implantation to help create and enhance the looks of body modification enthusiasts and performance artists.
Tongue Splitting (I could probably lick my lips and yours at the same time. *Wink wink*)
Tongue splitting, also known as bifurcation, or forking, is a process of cutting the tip of the tongue to create a wicked oral look. A feature of Khechari Mudra yoga, tongue splitting is used as part of breathing exercises and meditations to help advanced Yogis attain higher levels of consciousness.Photo: Wikipedia. All rights reserved
Tongue splitting was popularized for aesthetic purposes in the west by body modifiers in the late 90s and featured in body modification magazines, I Am Not My Body and Body Play and has been used by performance artists and body modification enthusiasts to enhance their looks.
Recipients of tongue splitting claim to have greater sensation and more fun while kissing, have deeper connections to themselves and their personal spirituality, and use it as a form of a rite of passage among other things.
Flesh Tunnels, Lip Plates, and other Stretches of the Imagination (While we're on the topic of licking things...)
Flesh tunnels are exactly what you think they are. Tunnels through flesh. Commonly seen in earlobe stretching or gauging some people have gone so far as to put larger and larger holes or tunnels into their cheeks, nose, and lips.Photo: DailyMail. All rights reserved.
Stretching, beyond the west, is commonly seen in African cultures where lip plates are seen as symbols of beauty.Photo: Wikipedia. All rights reserved.
Elf Ears (Is that you Legolas?)
Some people have naturally pointy ears, some people have rubber attachments, and some people just want the real thing. A new trend in the body modification community, elf ear surgery gives the wearer a pointy tipped ear, so they can look like the fictional creatures of Tolkien and other fantasy worlds.Photo: DailyMail. All rights reserved.