Re: mutilation and ritual

Alice Gorman (agorman@METZ.UNE.EDU.AU)
Thu, 4 Jul 1996 09:07:16 +1000

>With all this talk of a lack of ritual, etc. in Western "tattooing," is
>there anyone out on this list who has actually gotten a tattoo or talked
>to someone who has gotten a tattoo? We seem to be approaching this
>question with an a priori view that Western tattooing has no ceremony,
>symbolism and ritual, and trying to explain why this is, when in fact, I
>would argue just that opposite might be true. If tattooing has no
>symbolism, then why
>bother with "Mother" or a loved one's name? Why get the name removed to
>make a new loved one happy - it must mean something? And as far as
>ceremony, don't Navy guys still get drunk and tattooed as expected? It
>may not elegant, but it might still qualify as ceremony.
> Just my .02.
>Marie Conrad

For a good perspective on how Western people with tattoos feel about them,
have a look at the Re/Search volume Modern Primitives. It deals with other
forms of body alteration too, and contains an article about Mayan tongue

Many early ethnographers seem to use "tattooing" and "scarifying"
interchangeably; does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Alice C. Gorman

Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology
University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351
(067) 73 2306