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Tattooing of Gums, Senegal Famadihana, Madagascar
Teeth Chiseling, Indonesia - Terrific Traditions
3944    Dibyendu Banerjee    22/05/2019

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a well known quote, which signifies that beauty is actually created by observers. There is no specific definition of beauty and it varies from person to person. Most of the women of the Mantawaian people, living in the remote western Sumatran archipelago believes that, chiseled and pointed teeth make them attractive to the opposite sex. The ideals of beauty for them go far beyond the skin and they go through a number of rituals.

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According to their legend the tribe believes that, from the beginning of time, Mantawaians had split into spirits and humans. However, the humans are always under the threat of re-joining the spirit world if their own souls are not kept happy or are not pleased with their bodies. They therefore decorate their bodies with different permanent tattoos and chisel their teeth to make the souls happy, and thus, try to avoid death for as long as possible and at the same time try to maintain a balance between the body and the soul.

The painful procedure
The painful procedure
The painful procedure

The women folk of the tribe also believes strongly that, chiseled and pointed teeth make them attractive to men and most of the women of the tribe grind and file their teeth to get them sharpen. It is undoubtedly an extremely painful procedure, which is done by using a hammer and a chisel, without using any anesthetics.

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As a sharp chisel causes less pain and gets the job done faster as well, the chisel is sharpened before the beginning of the procedure. The pain during the procedure is the price they pay to achieve the beauty they gain.

The chiseled smile
The chiseled smile

It may sound strange to us, but after undergoing such a treatment, women in some Indonesian rural communities are also considered extremely beautiful.

Tattooing of Gums, Senegal Famadihana, Madagascar
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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