As these examples illustrate, there are many ways people can modify themselves, but traditionally speaking, the term "body modification" pertains to tattoos, piercings, scarification, split tongues, implants, and human suspension.
When did people first start engaging in body modification in the modern sense of the phrase?
If you have a weak stomach, prepare yourself for this list of the most extreme body modifications ever.
Extreme body modifications have taken on many forms in recent years.
They favored beautifully-colored, elaborate designs that often extended into full body suits--a tradition that became the mark of the Yakuza mafia men between the 1600s and mid 1800s.
Tattooing became a prevalent practice throughout China and into Russia around the same time that the Ainu first brought tattooing to Japan.
However, during the 3rd and 4th Egyptian dynasties when the pyramids were being erected, tattoos became prevalent among all Egyptian men and women.Some Celtic tattoo symbols had more specific meanings, like the three-pointed triquetra knot, which is said to symbolize either the Holy Trinity or the union of mind, body and spirit. Although some of the images had magical significance for the wearers, the Pazyryk's tattoos were some of the first elaborate tattoos created primarily for self-adornment. Around the same time, the tribal Picts of Scotland began decorating their bodies with war-inspired tattoos intended to intimidate their rivals in battle. People got tattoos as symbols of their social status, to adorn themselves, for spiritual reasons, to promote healing, for added strength in battle, and more. They called the practice "tatu", which inspired Captain James Cook to coin the phrase "tattoo" in 1769 after visiting Polynesia.The Polynesians tattooed themselves for highly spiritual reasons, creating intricate, skillfully-applied tattoo designs despite their crude tools.Although people may have been tattooing each other earlier, the oldest tattooed man discovered lived roughly 5,000 years ago.Scientists dubbed him "Ötzi the Iceman" because of where the mummy was found, in the Alps' Ötzi Valley.