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Spiritual Tattoo: A Cultural History of Tattooing, Piercing, Scarification, Branding, and Implants

by John A. Rush - £17.99  Frog Ltd (2005)
paperback    ISBN 13: 9781583941171 | ISBN 10: 1583941177

From as far back as 1.5 million years ago people in tribes and villages, grappling with the metaphysical importance of symbols, have wanted to make symbols on themselves. Works of body-art and self-mutilation - breast implants, tummy tucks, piercings or tattoos - have functioned as rites of passage, group identifiers, and mechanisms of social control. They conform to a peer code, complelling to those within, indecipherable to outsiders.
 
In this fascinating and timely book, cultural anthropologist John Rush outlines the processes and procedures of radical physical alterations such as tattooing, scarification, branding, and implants. He also explores deliberately inflicted pain and self-cutting as a spiritual and psychological exercise in purging sin and guilt.
 
Spiritual Tattoo finds a remarkable consistency in body modifications from primitive tribes to advanced civilisations, suggesting the universal importance of the body as sacred geography. Spiritual growth, the desire to belong, and the attempt to transcend the limits of one's own body are prevailing reasons for body mods.

(Price & availability last checked: April 2018)

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In booklists: Art and Artists - Worldwide, World Spirituality, Tattoos and Body Art,
In categories: Arts & Creativity, Spirituality, Health & Wellbeing,

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