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13 Staggering Examples of Body Modification from Around the Globe

Themed Collections

18 October 2017

Posted by Charlotte Dart

When people talk about body modification, what might immediately spring to mind is a recent trend shown through pair of pierced ears, a nostril ring or a sparkly navel bar. But body modification in all its forms has been an important part of different cultures from around the world for centuries. For a modern Western culture, getting a tattoo or piercing can be a simple fashion choice - but for many people extreme body modification is a way of life.

These 13 examples of body modification showcase the most striking examples of tattoos, facial piercings, suspension and surface piercings from a variety of cultures all around the world, often with deep religious or traditional significance.

A mother of the Suri tribe in Ethiopia boasts an impressive lip plate. These plates are usually hand made and the process is begun shortly before marriage.

A mother of the Suri tribe in Ethiopia boasts an impressive lip plate. These plates are usually hand made and the process is begun shortly before marriage. Read less

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Miro May

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A tribeswoman in Mali with a trio of gold nose rings sells yoghurt at the tribal market.

A tribeswoman in Mali with a trio of gold nose rings sells yoghurt at the tribal market. Read less

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robertharding

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These intricate tattoos on the face of a Chin tribeswoman in Burma are thought to be part of a tradition to deter would-be kidnappers.

These intricate tattoos on the face of a Chin tribeswoman in Burma are thought to be part of a tradition to deter would-be kidnappers. Read less

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robertharding

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This shop-owner in India wears an ornamental gold and jewel nose ring.

This shop-owner in India wears an ornamental gold and jewel nose ring. Read less

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Patrick Watkins

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Elaine Davidson, the most pierced woman in the world, shows off her many piercings. Elaine currently has 9000 piercings (and counting!)

Elaine Davidson, the most pierced woman in the world, shows off her many piercings. Elaine currently has 9000 piercings (and counting!) Read less

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oscarcwilliams

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A young man celebrates the Tamil holiday of Thaipusam with ornamental jewellery hooked into his skin.

A young man celebrates the Tamil holiday of Thaipusam with ornamental jewellery hooked into his skin. Read less

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Jenny Rainbow

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A Hindu man takes part in a traditional suspension during Thaipusam celebrations. During this process, hooks are inserted into the skin and the person is suspended from them.

A Hindu man takes part in a traditional suspension during Thaipusam celebrations. During this process, hooks are inserted into the skin and the person is suspended from them. Read less

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A piercer threads coloured ribbons through piercing rings to mimic a traditional corset.

A piercer threads coloured ribbons through piercing rings to mimic a traditional corset. Read less

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An elderly Indian grandmother poses for a photo with traditional ear piercings.

An elderly Indian grandmother poses for a photo with traditional ear piercings. Read less

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A devotee pierced with golden skewers and urns at a Tamil religious festival.

A devotee pierced with golden skewers and urns at a Tamil religious festival. Read less

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robertharding

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A Mali woman with a pair of golden nose rings sells tomatoes at a local market.

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robertharding

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A young girl’s cheeks are pierced with a traditional spear at a Thaipusam celebration.

A young girl’s cheeks are pierced with a traditional spear at a Thaipusam celebration. Read less

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Frank Cornfield

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A heavily pierced man grins, showing off multiple ear, nose and eyebrow piercings.

A heavily pierced man grins, showing off multiple ear, nose and eyebrow piercings. Read less

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