Tattooing and Piercing: The Body as a Site for Performing the Self Essay Sample

Length: 2800 words

Many people view the human organic structure as an flat lease instead than a house: They have the usage of it during the brief season of their occupancy. but most are loth to originate any lasting alterations beyond those dictated by nature and necessity. The tattoo and organic structure piercing have long held negative intensions and is even forbidden in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 19:28 it says “Ye shall non do any film editings in your flesh for the dead nor print any Markss upon you. I am the Lord. ” Though many view these signifiers of organic structure art as wickedness and cut down it to personify mutilation. others feel that it is simply a historical footer about the cultural individuality of this epoch.

The arguments refering organic structure alteration and self-mutilation frequently suggest that persons who choose to adorn their organic structures through tattooing and piercing are driven by harmful urges that they can non understand and make non command. Though the desire to tag the organic structure does emanate from the interior sense of ego. it can non be read every bit ideographically as a message of injury of the single ego. The human organic structure is a

Sorry, but full essay samples are available only for registered users

Choose a Membership Plan
canvass for the look of cultural thoughts of work forces and adult females throughout clip and around the universe. Arguments of the positive or negative intensions of tattooing and piercing do non frequently justify or corrupt organic structure alterations but merely bespeak a dislocation between morality and aesthetics.

The creatively perforated and multiply tattooed persons of Western civilization likely don’t recognize it-and neither. doubtless. make their unsettled parents. neighbours and teachers-but they belong to a tradition every bit old as recorded history-probably much older. Ever since our Neolithic ascendants invented art 10s of 1000s of old ages ago. worlds have been painting. sculpting and otherwise adorning the human organic structure: is merely the nearest and most intimate canvas. Body alteration is a personal pick merely like make-up and vesture. Some choose to be pierced or inked for aesthetic intents. religious inducements. titillating grounds. exhilaration. or a assortment of other personal motivations. The cogency of each intent is equal. For some it is for attending or to do a political statement. For others it is like a sacred ritual. Many are seeking for significance and seeking to happen something that is true and worthwhile.

For centuries body art such as tattoos and piercings have been practiced all over the universe in about every civilization. Both patterns have different significances and multiple degrees from spiritual rites to pure ornament. Often times throughout the history of western civilization. these patterns have been shunned and outcast as the Markss of Satan. In the last few centuries nevertheless. these false beliefs have subsided to the ideas of mere abhorrence of any lasting defacing of a person’s organic structure. It has been argued that organic structure art is no more than merely attending seeking self-mutilation. in which merely heathens and felons engage.

These frequently painful patterns normally marked a rite of transition or indicated an act of courage and bravery in warriors. The art of tattoos have existed for more than 5300 old ages. looking on all continents that have been inhabited by human civilisations. Piercing. nevertheless. is the most ancient signifier of organic structure art. bing since the 9th century B. C. in Iraqi civilizations. The common maps of piercings throughout the universe were spiritual ceremonials and enlightenment. to demo societal wealth and standings. beauty and manner. sexual sweetening. and the marker of felons and slaves. Tattoos and piercings have been around for millenary. and for the bulk of that clip. they have ever been accepted as a signifier of art. non mutilation. and as an award of unmeasurable wealth.

Tattoos can capture an excessive sum of beauty and complexness with each shot from the artist’s acerate leafs. It is an art that has been widely spread on about every continent and was practiced at one clip by virtually every civilization. Some tattoos are self-motivated look of personal freedom and singularity. while in ancient civilizations they normally marked a individual as a member or nonmember of a local group. or express spiritual. charming. or religious beliefs and personal strong beliefs.

The oldest tattooed organic structure known to day of the month is that of an Bronze Age adult male who died over 5300 old ages ago ( Raferty. History. 2002 ) . The adult male was found frozen and good preserved in a glacier of the Otzal Alps between Austria and Italy. Ancient tattoos served as ornament and adornment. they were besides thought to hold charming intents every bit good as curative maps ( Raferty. History. 2002 ) . Archeologically validated plants of art demoing tattoos started to look 30. 000 old ages ago

Tattooing was besides a usage during the 3rd and 4th dynasties ( 2686- 2493 B. C. ) in Egypt. while the pyramids of Gizeh were being built. By this point. Egyptians had already begun utilizing acerate leafs in their procedure. Clay dolls were besides adorned with designs similar to those of tattoos. The mummified cadaver of Amunet. a priestess of the goddess Hathor at Thebes during the 11th dynasty. ( 2160-1994 B. C. ) was found really good preserved with parallel lines tattooed on her weaponries and thighs every bit good as an egg-shaped design below her umbilicus ( Raferty. History. 2002 ) .

In Libya. both male and female mas were found tattooed with images of Egyptian Gods such as Ra. the Sun God. every bit good as the ferocious goddess Neith. who led warriors into conflict. The first known tattoo of a individual was of the God of sex and superintendent of binges. Bes. and was discovered on Nubian female mas dating to 400 B. C.

Tattooing was a crude pattern that died out in Europe as Christian civilisation advanced ; the Christian organic structure was merely marked as a mark of shame. The Greeks used tattooing for communicating among undercover agents. while Romans marked merely slaves and felons. The Danes. Norse. and Saxons tattooed household crests. Pope Hadrian banned tattooing in 787 A. D. but tattooing continued to boom until the Norman Invasion of 1066. Tattoo disappeared from Western civilization from the twelfth to the 16th centuries. ( Raferty. History. 2002 )

From the Far East. the Ainu people influenced the Native American folks of Alaska. In the America’s. tattooing had besides established itself in the societal life of the Indians. Jesuit missions reported that tattooing was practiced by about all of the native folk they encountered. Most folks used irritants. sharpened castanetss from a fish or birds. or chiseled stones to carve their luxuriant designs into the tegument. The Indians would utilize carbon black and the pigments from certain berries to scratch colour into their designs. Tattoos in South America are believed to hold existed since the 12th century. The Aztecs. Mayans. and Incas all engaged in the art of tattoos. Many Native American folks used tattooing for curative grounds ( Raferty. History. 2002 ) . Tattoos are the lasting Markss of “civilized” art all over the universe and go on to keep their value to this twenty-four hours in most societies.

The art of organic structure piercing can be found in rock carvings dating every bit old as the 9th century B. C. in the civilisations that make up modern twenty-four hours Iraq. In add-on. the Mayans. Aztecs. Romans. Egyptians. and Victorians practiced organic structure piercing to stand for steadfast spiritual beliefs. rites of transition. and to separate royalty from “commoners. ” Egyptian Pharaoh marked the rite of transition from childhood to adulthood by navel piercings. Roman soldiers demonstrated their manhood. strength. and virility by nipple piercings. Male and female royals of the Victorian age engaged in nipple and venereal piercing to show their royal status” ( Raferty. History. 2002 ) .

The scriptural mention to organic structure piercings is mentioned in the book of Exodus. when Hebrew retainers would hold their lobes pierced to demo commitment to their Masterss. In Genesis 24:22. Abraham ordered one of his retainers to happen a married woman for his boy Isaac. The retainer found Rebekah and gave her a Shanf. or nose-ring. as a nuptials gift. In some parts of Australia and New Guinea one tribal usage is a perforated septum. giving the warrior a ferocious and barbarous visual aspect. Some adult females of India pierce their olfactory organs to bring on a province of submissiveness. ( they claim this happens by proper arrangement in a marma or stylostixis point ) ( Raferty. History. 2002 ) . Ethiopian work forces and adult females have assorted facial piercings and some are identified by over sized ear phonograph record. Lip plates for adult females. aid to derive societal position and command a higher nuptial monetary value. It was thought by crude folks that evil liquors would come in the organic structure through the ear. because devils and liquors are supposed to be repelled by metal. ear-piercing prevents them from come ining the body” ( Raferty. History. 2002 )

Lip piercings and Labrets have significance for the people of Mali and Ethiopia because address was believed to hold developed by their ascendant spirit weaving a piece of yarn through her lip. For the many folks who pierced the septum of their warriors. it was simply a mark of ferocity and bravery. Despite the diversified grounds for piercing. all these civilizations from around the universe were unified in their belief that organic structure piercing was an art signifier with extremely of import. authorising. and positive intensions.

With this much antediluvian and modern history of lasting organic structure art. why does Western society position it as riotous. petroleum. and self-mutilation? Though there is much more tolerances environing the issue than in the past. many feel that tattoos and piercings are Markss of shame and societal aberrance and ne’er see what motivates people to adorn their organic structure in such a manner. These signifiers of organic structure ornament have existed in art and marked legion ideals in societies such as societal category. servitude. and several spiritual rites.

The fact that Western society is non overtly tribal or purely racially segregated is possibly one of the grounds why the importance of bodily visual aspect in building societal individuality is regarded so suspiciously. Western civilisation has no history of group organic structure alteration. and where we have encountered it in others. it has frequently been regarded as grounds of their crudeness and savageness. and attempts have been made to eliminate it as portion of the ‘civilization’ procedure. So now. all the patterns traditionally employed by groups to separate them physically from others are now contained within one society. The “other” is now your next-door neighbour.

The cause of contention environing the issues of tattooing and piercings is straight rooted in the message that these signifiers of organic structure alteration present. In modern contexts. these Acts of the Apostless map as an avenue of symbolic decease and metempsychosis ; the decease of conventional beauty criterions and the metempsychosis of new-fangled ideals of attraction by disputing the classical ideal of the tegument as “a pristine smooth closed envelope for the self” ( Pitts. Flesh. 2003 ) beliing the Western impression of the organic structure and self as fixed and unchanging.

Arnold Ruben suggests that organic structure art. tattooing. and piercings are non eccentric signifiers of aberrance peripheral to society. Alternatively body art represents what he suggests is “the quintessential infliction of conceptual-cultural-order upon nature. Given their heavy burden of cultural values. the media of irreversible organic structure art are typically taken for granted by insiders and originate strong ( preponderantly negative ) feelings among outsiders- normally captivation blended with antipathy. even repulsion. ( DeMello. Bodies. 2000 ) This suggests that “outsiders” . may be fascinated with the beauty of the art but deficiency understanding sing motivational factors of organic structure alteration through tattoos and piercings.

Since the late 80’s. the demographic and imagination of tattoos has undergone profound alteration and reflect the economic. political and societal turbulence that has taken topographic point. Though dominant civilizations frequently look down upon sub-cultures. it is of import to recognize that while sub-cultures reject the political orientation of mainstream society. they besides reflect many of the same issues. Body alterations impact non merely the single modifying their organic structure. the individual executing the alteration. but those who will detect the alteration every bit good. In portion people are utilizing their organic structures to reject homogenisation of popular capitalist civilization.

In an epoch in which big transnational corporations dominate the socio-economic landscape. tattoos and piercings can non be mass produced. They are a personal look of one’s ego. Body alteration. through ink and flesh. every bit good as piercing is an act of self-creation. It is a protest of transient socially constructed characteristics of desirableness. lower status or power. It constitutes a statement of control and ownership over the organic structure in a cultural context characterized by speed uping commodification and disaffection. The misdemeanor of societal norms calls into inquiry basic cultural mores in Western society. As such these persons represent society at its simplest look.

Tattooing and piercing have become vehicles for people to altar their visual aspect which can be of important importance to the person and can publically show a rite of transition every bit good as interruption recognized cultural codification. As such these signifiers of organic structure alteration are cardinal signifiers of self-expression and contemplation of cultural world. Modified bodies constantly provoke a strong reaction among those who are non. They elicit a primeval response which touches the nucleus of who we are as people and a society. Persons engage in organic structure alteration through piercing and tattooing to dispute personal and societal invisibleness while adding cultural capital to the body’s surface.

Through these signifiers of organic structure ornament. persons attempt to decide “ontological insecurities of modernism by calculated self-identification. ” ( Pitts. Flesh. 2003 ) . Body art. despite its involvement in step ining with the physical flesh and making blood and cicatrixs and so on. really is non a violent pattern. Persons partaking in such organic structure alterations such as piercing and tattooing are taking a sort of libertarian or civil libertarian attitude towards their organic structures. These are Acts of the Apostless of personal pick that demonstrate societal independency. The wilful act of modifying one’s organic structure is non a inactive. but a deliberate and successful effort to direct the regard of society where the single chooses. In kernel. tattooing and piercing puts control into the custodies of the person ; control over their organic structure and control over the objectified body- emancipating it with alternate signifiers of power. Tattoos and piercings non merely give power and a sense of control to the person but permits them to enter one’s ain history and developmental mileposts on the organic structure.

Peoples show a battalion of semiotic symbols through organic structure art. Because of the “fashion witting pro alteration nature of the West. our is a universe where to hold organic structure ornament such as a tattoo or a aggregation of facial piercings is. ipso facto. to be different from the norm” ( Hewitt. Blood in Ink. 1997 ) . and because a new set of cultural and societal significances are being ascribed to organic structures and redefining beauty. society must go more accepting and adjust cultural norms to suit a novel yet historic civilization of societal communicating through the decorated organic structure. The organic structure is the one thing the person has ultimate control over. Tattoos are a manner of perpetrating to something lasting and stable. of entering who and what you are right now. . . . The traditional stereotype is gone.

See this: every determination you make about your visual aspect is the consequence of witting or unconscious determinations about how you wish to be regarded by society. You might. as a female. have on your hair long to bespeak your muliebrity. wear denims to mean you are dressing casually or a frock to tag a formal juncture. You wear do up. non merely because you feel it makes you look more attractive. but because you wish to signal that being attractive is something that is of import to you. It is of import because society has imposed such ideals upon you. These sorts of determinations are besides taken by people who more radically change their visual aspect. but alternatively of conveying them closer to a socially approved norm. they lead them to divert from it. dispute it and assert personal control. “Bodies have ever distinguished persons from one another- the ground was the common denominator” ( Focault. Power. 1980 )


DeMello. Margo. Bodies of Inscription. Durham Duke: University Press. 2000

Focault. Michael. Power/ Knowledge. Selected Interviews and other Writings. Edited and

translated by Gordon. Colin. New York: Pantheon. 1980.

Grumet. G. W Psychodynamic Implications of Tattoos. American Journal of Psychiatry.

53. 482. 492. 1983

Hewitt. Kim. Mutilating the Body ; Identifying in Blood and Ink. Bowling Green. Ohio:

Bowling Green State University Press. 1997.

Pitts. Victoria. The Cultural Politicss of Body Modification. Palgrove Macmillan.

Chicago. 2003

Raferty. D. History of

Tagged In :

Get help with your homework

Haven't found the Essay You Want? Get your custom essay sample For Only $13.90/page

Sarah from studyhippoHi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out