Marks of Civilization: Artistic Transformations of the Human Body (Arnold Rubin; 1988)


Body piercing, scarification, tattooingfor thousands of years decorative alteration of the human body has been invested with profound cultural and social meaning. This remarkable collection of essays, photographs, and drawings focuses on the many and diverse ways that human beings have permanently decorated their bodies. Marks of Civilization grew out of a symposium entitled "Art of the Body" held at the University of California, Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Contributors encompass the fields of anthropology, sociology, art history, archaeology, and folklore. The geographical and historical perspectives are from Europe and Euro- America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Pacific Basin (Asia, Oceania, and Native America). The book's text and photographs acknowledge body art as a meaningful part of human behavior. What dominates throughout is the recognition of artistic potency, mysterious or commonplace, that is a part of marking the body.