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Body piercing is a cultural practice and art of beauty that has been in existence in many communities for a very long time. This art is done for different reasons, which vary from one cultural group to another. Lloyd (78) says that some do the body piercing for beauty purposes, while others observe it as a symbol of cultural value. Body piercing is practiced in many countries as it is integrated as part of the cultural values in various countries. It is also used by both men and women in many countries as a way of enhancing beauty. This paper focuses on body piercing among the Ethiopians.
Body Piercing among the Mursi of Ethiopia
Body piercing among the Mursi of Ethiopia is one of the highly valued practices that have been observed for many years. In this community, body piercing is a significant cultural practice for both men and women. The Mursi community considers this practice a unique part of their traditions with some strict guidelines on how and when it should be done for various purposes. In this community, various types of body piercing are practiced. Some of the piercings are meant to enhance beauty, while others are used as symbols or marks passage from one stage to another. The following are the different types of body piercing observed by the Mursi community of Ethiopia.
Types of Body Piercing
According to Beaujon (76), some of the most common types of body piercing among the Mursi community are the ear and nose piercing. Ear piercing is practiced by almost every woman in this community. Mursi women are expected to wear expensive earrings, which are used as a symbol of beauty and wealth. Some men in this community also pierce one of the ears to enhance beauty. Men put earrings on one of the ears as it is believed that it improves the long-distance vision for them. Some of the members of this community would exaggerate body piercing as a sign of bravery. Nose piercing is also common among both men and women of Mursi. Men in this community prefer to have their ears pierced with either bones or feathers as a symbol of wealth. Among the women, the piercing is usually done before marriage or on the night of marriage as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. Women also practice nose piercing for beauty reasons. These two forms of piercing were very common during ceremonies to express some of the values of the community. On other occasions, men would consider piercing the shoulders or chests as it was believed to be a sign of bravery.
Lip and Tongue piercing are other types of body piercing practiced by the Mursi community of Ethiopia. This type of body piercing is majorly observed by women. These women do the piercing using sharp-pointed thorns, and the blood is collected and burnt in honor of some gods. The lip and Tongue piercing also acted as a symbol of high status among the women of this community. These types of piercing were done by the members of this community to commemorate important events and also in honor of heroes in the society. The following diagram is a picture of a man with a pierced ear.
Beaujon (56) points out that though not practiced by many, the piercing of around the umbilical cord existed in this community. This type of piercing is majorly done by married women who are believed to do so to honor their spouses. According to Lloyd (112), this form of body piercing earned some form of pride and respect for the men whose wives had it done on them. The women also do it for aesthetic value.
Beaujon, Andrew. Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2007. Print.
Lloyd, John. Body Piercing and Tattoos. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 2003. Print.