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Extremes of Body Modification in the Aztec and Maori Cultures - Research Paper Example

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For over a decade, tattoos and piercings have seen an increase in popularity. Body modification is defined as “the semi-permanent or permanent deliberate alteration of the human body”.The practice of body modification extends all over the globe since the dawn of humankind itself. …
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Extremes of Body Modification in the Aztec and Maori Cultures
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Extremes of Body Modification in the Aztec and Maori Cultures

Download file to see previous pages... In addition, while some still attribute deeper psychological meaning to the practice, others insist that body modification has become nothing more than a simple fashion accessory, or a matter of preference (Wohlrab et al., 87–88).
Body modification is defined as “the semi-permanent or permanent deliberate alteration of the human body”. The practice of body modification extends all over the globe since the dawn of humankind itself. Even though types of modifications vary wildly by geography and culture, in most cases, historically, there has been a symbolic reason beyond aesthetic preference. A modification could indicate that the bearer underwent some sort of group initiation, joined a particular age bracket or social group, or it could identify personal accomplishments, social status, or religious membership and ordaination (Wohlrab et all, 87–88).
In more recent times, body modification was often associated with lower classes of people, not the elite. In Europe and later, America, tattooing was common among sailors, who were not viewed kindly by polite society. The practice traveled to other members of lower classes. Biker culture, punk culture, criminal organizations, and prison culture eventually adopted the practice (Wohlrab et all, 87–88). ...
Aztec culture used body modification for the purpose of distinguishing class, societal role, and gender. Gender identity was established in the early teens, when all individuals were classified within three genders: potentially reproductive male, potentially reproductive female, and celibate. Throughout these three genders, body modification would follow a set path based on life events. Astronomers and priests calculated the life calendar and fortune prediction for every individual at birth (Joyce, 475-476) Boys and girls wore their hair identically until the age of 12, in a short crop over the whole head. By 12, girls began growing their hair long. Boys shaved their heads except for one long tuft in the back. A young man was permitted to shave it upon taking his first captive in battle. Afterward, the hair was to the bottom of the ear on the right side, shaving the left. Upon capturing a 4th captive, a man recieved the privilege of wearing his hair any way he liked. After childbirth, a woman usually wore her long hair bound around her head (Joyce, 479-480). Among the Aztecs, nearly every combination of gender and societal role had its own code of dress, appearance, and body modification. Aztec adults began a child’s course of body modification by grabbing children between infancy and 4 years old by the neck, every 4th year, in the month Izcalli, on special feast day. This was believed to make the child taller. The ceremony began with piercing the ears of the children. A cotton string was put in the hole initially, and the holes were slowly stretched over time to allow the child to wear ear ornaments as an adult averaging over 2 centimeters wide Joyce, 477-478). Male noble children 15 and over were admitted to the calmecac, for the training of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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