The concept of body modification is not new to the world. For centuries, people all over the world have been modifying their bodies using natural methods.
From stretching the lips and earlobes to plugging the nose, below are five of the most extreme body modifications.
The Mursi tribe, isolated in Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia near the border of Sudan are well-known for their trademark lip stretching beautification.
Know indigenously as dhebi a tugoin, there are an estimated 10,000 members of this fascinating tribe. Like other forms of body modifications lip stretching is seen as an expression of social adulthood and reproductive potential. Often, the size of the plate is correlated with the size of a woman’s bridewealth.
2. Neck Stretching
The Kayan are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority in Myanmar and are famous for the many brass coils that the women wear around their necks.
They are often called “giraffe women” by outsiders because they can wear up to 25 coils, worn throughout their lifetimes.
Children are often given their first set of coils at an early age of 5. The set consists of coils weighing about 4.5 pounds. And through time, more rings are added.
3. Nose Plugs
The Apatani women believed they were the most beautiful in the tribe and had to make themselves look unattractive to protect themselves from invaders from other tribes. Hence, they wore large wooden plugs in their noses and tattooed their faces.
Though Scarification is done all over the world, it is practised heavily by the Sepik River tribes in Papua New Guinea, the Karo tribe in Southern Ethiopia and all throughout Sudan and regarded as a beauty enhancement, a rite of passage, or marks of social status.
The elders of the tribe use blades to cut the young men all over their faces and bodies in a pattern resembling an alligator’s as they believed that the alligator will consume any trace of boyhood left in their bodies and will thus turn them into men.
5. Teeth sharpening
Teeth sharpening is a practice of manually sharpening the teeth using a chisel or knife to file them desirable shapes. The image above is a Bagobo woman of Mindanao (from the Eastern-most part of the Philippines) with filed teeth.
In Bali, Indonesia, teeth were filed down because it was thought that the teeth represented anger, jealousy, and other similarly negative emotions. The image above is a Mentawai woman from Indonesia bearing tattoos and sharpened teeth!
6. San Yak Tattoos
Getting a tattoo is one of the most trending things these days, but the tradition of San Yak tattoos has been on this planet for hundreds of years. The tattoos are generally Buddhist prayers, images, and spells that people from Thailand and Cambodia carve on their bodies to ward off evil spirits.
The long-gone tradition of skull binding was practiced in Iraq around 45,000 BC, and in Peru 9,000 years ago. The procedure of this practice starts during infancy and continues till the skull gets fully developed. It was done to encourage it to grow vertically.
8. Foot Binding
This one is not so vague. The practice of foot binding was practiced thousands of years ago in China but was banned in the 20th century for the ill-effects it had. In this practice, bandages were used to bind young girls’ feet to curl their toes. It was believed that small feet signify wealth and social status.
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