Body adornment and modification are well established markers of status, artistry, rebellion, and the sheer joy of ostentation, and this title reminds adolescent readers that even the most outré of contemporary styles has probably been bested in other times and cultures. Six chapters feature jewelry, hair, nails, makeup, tattoos, and piercing, first surveying twenty-first-century Western examples (think Nicki Minaj’s wigs) and then comparing them with the faraway (e.g., the Miao of China have Long Horn hair wraps that emulate and honor water buffalo) and the long ago (for example, samurai topknots were originally designed to keep warrior’s helmets from falling off). Discussion is neatly organized, but coverage never expands beyond brief observations into substantive explorations. Topics appear to be limited to body art that spans a significant time range, and thus scarification makes the cut (so to say), while other permanent modifications such as foot-binding and skullshaping, which have passed into history, do not. Readers who get beyond browsing the striking color photographs will probably recognize that this slim volume isn’t going to delve into the embellishment of human civilization, but it might lead to further reading on a newly whetted interest. An index and reading list, which careens wildly from gagamedia.net to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, are appended.
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Gordon, Stephen G. Expressing the Inner Wild: Tattoos, Piercings, Jewelry, and Other Body Art. Twenty-First Century, 2014. 56p illus. with photographs Library ed. ISBN 978-1-4677-1467-9 $33.26 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4677-2548-4 $24.95 Ad Gr. 6-9.
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