Week 9: Body Adornment
Body Adornment is “Decorating your body to show your social status, to express your individuality, as a rite of passage, or to chow your membership to a group like a clan or community.”
There are many different forms of body adornment. Body adornment is what you wear or how you cut and style your hair. It is also piercing your body, or tattooing your body or doing body paint.
All forms of body adornment aim to make the wearer look more attractive, show individuality, and represent status.
The people of West Africa often intricately braid their hair. In other cultures, covering your hair shows respect for the wearer’s religion. In our culture, dying your hair is a fun way to express your individuality. In many cultures cutting your hair is an important ritual.
In Africa some women add discs to their lower lips, because it is considered beautiful in their culture. In India women wear elaborate pierces with tassels and jewels attached. Here in America we tend to pierce our ears.
People all over the world tattoo their bodies and they mean different things to every culture. The oldest forms of tattooing come from the pacific islands, called Maori tattoos. These tattoos are status symbols. People with more money and power have more tattoos. Both men and women get tattoos. They are also seen as a sign of strength because they are done by inserting dye into the skin by hammering a sharpened stick into the skin to create the design. They are typically spirals that cover large portions of the face and body. Similarly, in West Africa tattoos are done to show status and are one the face and hands. Tattoos in America were traditionally for sailors or prison inmates, but today they are another fun way to express your individuality and unique character.
Body art or body paint is another form of body adornment. It is not permanent and is done in most cultures at special times of celebration. In West Africa, men wear body paint in ritualistic settings and prior to war. In America, women wear make-up on a regular basis to enhance their natural beauty.
Clans designed tattoos that symbolized importance in their culture, rites of passage, or individuality. Next, tattoos were pained on to students faces.
Students absolutely loved this activity! They were enthralled, entertained, and had great discussions about what each symbol meant. As this was our last lecture, I wanted to leave the students with a fun activity they would remember all year.