Joseph Campbell noted in his book Primitive Mythology: The Masks of God that throughout the world, the rituals of transformation from infancy to manhood are often excruciating ordeals. Many are deeply sacred rites.
"A tattoo is painful and bloody," said Vince Hemingson, a writer and filmmaker who has studied body-modification practices worldwide. "In almost all hunting and gathering cultures, shedding of blood summons the gods—and good and evil spirits."
There are several reasons for the growing popularity of scarification. Pitts feels that it's partly spurred by a nostalgia for a different type of society.
"Industrial consumerist cultures are becoming more interested in what they might call primitive societies," she said. "That's not wholly new—it's a fascination thats centuries old." The romantic idea of the exotic ethnic dates back to colonial times, she said.
"Someone stuck in L.A. traffic, wearing a tribal tattoo, has a cultural nostalgia for something we imagine we've lost," Pitts said. "The problem is that we're taking it upon ourselves to represent a whole range of indigenous cultures in ways that they may not agree with—or may violate sacred spiritual ritual."
« Older The three-decade decline in teenage and young-adul... | Skyfish have been well documen... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt