Humans have always striven for paying tribute to their culture by carrying out rituals and by wearing symbols to emphasize their connection with their people or religion. While Christians wear crucifix pendants around their necks, there are a variety of indigenous peoples that participate in more extreme forms of culturally influenced fashion.

The Maori in New Zealand for instance wear ritual face and body tattoos that often depict their history and culture. A similar custom is practiced in Southeast Asia. In Taiwan, you will still encounter people sporting face tattoos as a rite of passage to demonstrate that they are now part of the adult community.

The Mursi, an ethnic group in Ethiopia, engage in a fairly extreme form of body modification. Here, the women wear lip plates which requires them to have their underlip pierced and a wooden disc placed into the lip. It takes several years to stretch the lip in order to wear the large plates for which the Mursi have become famous throughout the world. Other tribes stretch their necks with metal rings or scar their backs, implanting small rocks underneath their skin to create a pattern. In South America, there are peoples that pierce their underjaw or underlip to place a dowel through it.

Tribes in Papua New Guinea seem to have been able to shield their culture from modern civilization, living in their own world that often seems bizarre to us. Here, the last head hunters live, still wearing frightening masks made of clay to scare off their enemies. They aren’t called head hunters for no reason because they are known to take the heads of their fiends as trophies.

Image: © flickr Monkeyji