Some Thing for Every Body - Body Art at Pitt Rivers Museum

Exploring the Body Art collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum, illustrating the many ways in which people around the world have modified their bodies
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Tā moko is the art of facial and body tattooing among the Māori of New Zealand and is one of the world's most unique, complex and beautiful tattoo traditions.  This is a portrait of Chief Ngairo Rakai Hikuroa by Gottfried Lindauer, 1878.

Tā moko is the art of facial and body tattooing among the Māori of New Zealand and is one of the world's most unique, complex and beautiful tattoo traditions. This is a portrait of Chief Ngairo Rakai Hikuroa by Gottfried Lindauer,

Hand-made child's embroidered and decorated silk hat, representing a tiger. Hmong (Miao) people, Guizhou Province, China, 1980s. A tiger hat scares away evil spirits or fools them into thinking that the child is a fearsome animal.

Hand-made child's embroidered and decorated silk hat, representing a tiger. Hmong (Miao) people, Guizhou Province, China, A tiger hat scares away evil spirits or fools them into thinking that the child is a fearsome animal.

Above: Wooden head (sometimes known as musumusu), which would have been placed on the prow of a war canoe. The incised pattern of geometric shapes and lines is said to echo the traditional facial tattoos worn in New Georgia, Solomon Islands.    Below: Common among tattoo designs were totemic birds, tattooed in large form on a man's chest. On this 'kapkap' shell ornament a stylised frigate bird is flying over a shoal of bonito fish, alerting fishermen to their presence.

a wood carving showing the way faces were tattooed in the Soloman island with geometric shapes and lines [b]Top:[/b] Collected by Alan Herbert Coltart and donated by Mrs A. Coltart in Collected by and purcha.

Beaded headband and string mask. Such masks were made by a teenage boy's mother and sisters for him to wear in the period of seclusion prior to his final circumcision ceremony.

Beaded headband and string mask. Such masks were made by a teenage boy's mother and sisters for him to wear in the period of seclusion prior to his final circumcision ceremony.

Ornaments made using the head hair of the deceased - memento mori ('remember you must die'). Britain, 1867

Ornaments made using the head hair of the deceased - memento mori ('remember you must die') Source: Pitt Rivers Museum Body Arts

In the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, self-decoration is associated with festivals and ceremonies where people reinforce their identity as members of a group or clan.

Papua New Guinea Body Painting - part of the Body Arts web from Pitt Rivers Virgual Collections, University of Oxford, England

Glass scent bottles, Venice, Italy, 19th century

Glass scent bottles from the Pitt Rivers Museum collections. Web on Scent, part of the Body Arts web from Pitt Rivers Virgual Collections, University of Oxford, England

The Body Painting display at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

The Body Painting display at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Block for transferring  art design on to the body, Borneo

Block for transferring art design on to the body, Borneo

Thai dance relies on gesture and posture. This dancer is wearing nail extensions.

[b]Left:[/b] Thai dancer wearing nail guards. From an image in Ritual and Seduction (London: The New English Library. Photo: © Charles and Josette Lenars, Paris.[br][b]Right:[/b] Nail extensions donated by Gerald Avery Wainwright in


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