I sometimes wonder at the universal nature of body and face painting, how and when it began?
I’m sure theories abound but at some point a single individual had to of begun the process and in doing so others followed.
An evolution took place in this following – body painting took on multiple meanings, in some cultures it was meant to ward off bad spirits or to attract good ones.
It took on a respectful or celebratory significance like the one this blog addresses – everything in the distant past was at it’s core spiritual in some manner or another.
The Maha Shivarati is a festival honoring the Hindu god of death and destruction, Shiva, and though the themes are often different a great many Hindu festivals tend to remind me of pow wows – the dancing, paint, music, and associated regalia.
Social events that gather people from near and far to participate in a long held tradition adding a thread of continuity from generation to generation that to me has a tribal significance to it.
Which is a good thing in my opinion as the roots of all cultures lay in their origins as tribes, a fact often forgotten or overlooked.
Tribal similarities can be found in every culture from the Sami to Hindus and indigenous people of the world.
They are to be found at Neanderthal and Folsom archeological sites, at sites in Africa, Australia, China, Tibet, Mongolia, and every nation in Europe.
Seems a little pretentious in light of such things that any would assume an air of superiority doesn’t it?
I read an article once about masks, how they originated, what the intent was, and though I may not have agreed with everything it said I found the assertion that even cosmetics qualify as masks interesting – and I suppose in a way they do whether the intent is to mask a perceived imperfection or enhance natural attributes.
Ultimately life is a canvas that people are inclined to paint upon – they adorn their homes, their cars, and even pets – kind of follows then we would adorn our bodies with paint, tattoos, tribal markings, and what is considered fashion at the moment.
Maybe a primordial tug like a drum beat, or a desire to be different. Maybe spiritual or cultural in nature, a matter of whimsy, or to identify with a certain group and in doing so make a statement.
A favorite magazine of mine is National Geographics for the coverage of global cultures, and though I do read the articles what always captures my attention are the photos – if I run across an issue someone is throwing out or in a thrift store I’m scooping it up.
I suppose if I could and were to do something else for a living instead of pounding nails working for an outfit like NG would be about as satisfying to me as swinging a hammer.
I haven’t seen anyone on a job yet wearing face paint, though there are those with tats and even purple or green hair on the rare occasion – not a problem, I just assume it’s part of their medicine.