Monday, 31 October 2011

Good is...

I am trying to filter down which forms of tribal body modification to use in my final illustrations for my postcards. So far I have Scarification, ear/ lip stretching, neck stretching and body paint. I think These are good starting points and that four is a good number of postcards to do. I have done some more research into these particular topics so that I have enough information for the backs of the postcards.

African girls from many native African tribes enhance their natural beauty with lip plates, scarification, tattoos, and female body painting.  Due to the dark color of the skin of many African girls, tattoos are not as discernible as they are on lighter skinned people.  This may explain the prevalence of scarification as a means of body decoration among African girls.  Moreover, some African tribes believe that making scars on newborn babies prevents blindness and poor vision.  Being darker skinned, African girls often develop raised keloid scars, which give a three-dimensional effect.  Modesty has a much different cultural interpretation by many African girls.  In fact for some African tribes, body painting is regarded as body "coverage" much as clothes are.    

Neck Stretching
In South Africa, women of Ndebele people (about 600,000), closely related to Zulu, wear also neck rings (photo bellow). The practice starts when they get married, around 12 years of age. But their neck rings differ greatly of those of the Kayan, because the rings are individual, so they do not press against the rib cage and do not produce the impression of the elongated necks.

Ndebele women traditionally adorned themselves with a variety of ornaments, each symbolising her status in society. After marriage, dresses became increasingly elaborate and spectacular. In earlier times, the Ndebele wife would wear copper and brass rings around her arms, legs and neck, symbolising her bond and faithfulness to her husband, once her home was built.

I've only had to briefly research into neck stretching to discover that it isn't really a common practice in African tribes, but more popular in Burma. It would then be irrelevant to use this as one of my illustrations, because it isn't a celebration of African tribal traditions which is what is the concept of the festival I am promoting.

Body Painting
The incredible thing about the Himba tribe, is the appearance of the Himba women; they change the color of their skin to a reddish-brown color by using a red-colored ointment that is made from butter, ash, red ochre and herbs. This ointment is said to protect the Himba women from the intense desert sun, but its primary function is esthetic as the women believe this makes them more attractive. Some say that the brownish color that the ointment produces represents the earth while the reddish tinge symbolises blood. This same earthy ointment is applied to their braided hair, making Himba women some of the most exotic women of all the African tribes. 

Similar to many African tribes women, the Afar women often are topless, wearing only a cloth around their waist.  In addition, married Afar women wear a traditional headdress called the “shash” in their native African language.  Similar to the Himba women, Afar women sometimes use a red ochre dye to enhance their appearance, but do not apply it to their entire bodies as do the Himba, but rather only to their faces. 

Lip and Ear Plates
The distinctive feature of the Mursi tribe is the characteristic lip plates worn by Mursi girls and women. In African tribes such as the Mursi, only girls and women wear lip plates. The Mursi girls pierce the bottom lips which are stretched so that a clay lip plate can be inserted. In addition, this African tribe removes the bottom teeth of the girls for esthetic enhancement. 

Many African women from different African tribes use scarification to enhance their beauty.  They will make designs on their skin using scars, much as a tattoo artist uses ink.

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