Oceania-> The Body and Art
Body Art  

      Body decoration is not only the personal pursuit or expression of beauty, but also symbolizes status, family wealth and identification among tribal members. Decoration in indigenous society emphasizes the relationship between nature and the supernatural, and is a way for people to communicate with each other or with ancestral spirits. It includes facial tattoos, body markings, body tattoos, scarifications, body modification or wearing of various ornaments.

      Polynesian ornaments include feather wreaths, chokers, combs and bracelets. Flowers are commonly used for body decoration, while tattoos are popular as well.

      The Melanesians made use of shells, tortoise shell, teeth, bones, feathers, seeds, beads and rattan to make nose pins, combs, chokers, bracelets, chest ornaments and foot straps. Men typically were more decorated than women.

      New Guineans are famous for their facial painting, and various body decorations, and animals, plants and minerals are used as materials for body decoration.



      Body and facial tattoos are important personal decorations. Tattoos usually symbolize coming of age and the rights to social recognition, to be treated as adults and to marry.

      The peoples of Oceania believed that tattoos can protect people's bodies, preventing illness and invasion by evil spirits.Only people who have contributed to their society can be tattooed on specific parts of the body, or with patterns possessing special meaning.

      Scarification is commonly seen in the Sepik Basin in New Guinea, usually composed of patterns of stripes or spots. Scars are made by burning or cutting the skin. Coal ashes or clay is then rubbed into the wounds.

      Among women, tattoos signify that they are of marriageable age, which is also related to their femininity and fertility. Tattoos on the thighs, buttocks, and private parts are shown at a special ceremony, after which, the tattoos can only be shown to their husbands.

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