The Decorated Body - An Introduction

All over the world people decorate their bodies. They paint, pierce, scar, shape and adorn them. But why do people do this?

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The Decorated Body - Introduction

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a rich collection of objects which tell the story of body decoration in diverse parts of the world. Using these objects and images, you can explore different types of body decoration and how body decoration has changed through history.

Body decoration is a way of communicating. It is a way of saying who you are and which group you belong to. Each society has many forms of body decoration used by people at different times in their lives. A person's style of body decoration can represent their age, gender, job, status, wealth and power. Decorating the body can also make a person seem more attractive by emphasising a particular part of their body.

Decoration can be temporary or permanent, painful or enjoyable and can be considered socially normal or socially challenging.

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