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Piercing and Tattoos

Overview :

Various cultures have embraced adorning their bodies with piercings and tattoos throughout history. In 1992, the 4,000-year-old body of a tattooed man was discovered in a glacier on the Austrian border, and historical research has shown that Egyptians identified tattooing with fertility and nobility in the period from 4000–2000 BC Similar to tattooing, body piercing also has a rich history, which includes being used as a symbol of royalty and courage. In some hunting and gathering societies, body piercing and tattoos have long been used in initiation rites and as socialization/enculturation symbols.

In today's industrialized cultures, tattoos and piercing are a popular art form shared by people of all ages. They also are indicative of a psychology of self-mutilation, defiance, independence, and belonging, as for example in prison or gang cultures.

Popular piercing sites include the ear, nasal septum, eyebrow, tongue, cheek, navel, labia, and penis. Tattoos permanently mark various areas on the body.

Piercing is performed quickly and without anesthesia by either a spring-loaded ear-piercing gun or piercing needles, with the needle diameter varying from six to 18 gauge. The skin is cleaned, then the needle and jewelry are inserted through the tissue in one swift motion. Piercing is typically completed in tattoo or beauty parlors.

Originating from the Tahitian word tattau, meaning "to mark," tattoos are relatively permanent marks or designs on the skin. An electric needle injects colored pigment into small deep holes made in the skin to form the tattoo. Prison tattoo techniques are usually very crude, in marked contrast to the highly skilled art practiced in Japan and also performed in America and Europe. In recent years, the ancient art of Mehndi, or temporary tattooing of the skin with a paste made of henna has become popular America and around the world. Henna is a stain normally made for hair, and therefore exempt from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. Although seemingly safe because it does not pierce the skin, henna tattoos using black henna, a paste that contains parahenylenediamine, can actually be dangerous when absorbed into the skin of some people.

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