History of Ear Gauging in Tribal Civilizations

A study of the history of ear gauging indicates the practice to be as old as recorded human history. For males, this form of ear piercing has been a symbol of status, while for women, in addition to being used as means of bodily decoration, it has also been employed to signify the attainment of womanhood.

Ear gauging, which is also referred to as ear stretching, is the stretching of ear lobe piercings to larger diameters than that of the original piercing. It is a form of body enhancement or beautification that many young western people adopt to look ‘different’ from the usual crowd. However, this is not a modern form of body piercing, since it has been around for as long as archaeological records exist.

In many cases, ear gauging has been used historically to indicate the standing of members of a specific tribe, and in many respects this is still the situation today. Stretched piercings have been, and still are, a reflection on the individual’s sexual capability and also their superiority over other males in the tribe. The larger the stretching, the more important the individual.

Otzi the Iceman is a prime example of mummies known to have stretched ears. This is the earliest known example of ear gauging, Otzi having 7-11 mm ear piercings during 3300 BC. It has been suggested that the stretching of the ears noted in depictions of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, may have been caused by the weight of the gold jewelry he wore, but this is mere supposition.

It is supported, however, by the fact that the Masai tribe of Kenya and the Lahu and Karen-Paduang people of Thailand use this ‘gravity’ technique to stretch their piercings. Let us have a look at the ear gauging practices used today by various cultures.

A. Mursi Tribal Women

The Mursi is an Ethiopian tribe where the women are obliged to wear plates in their gauged ears and on their bottom lip. About a year prior to her marriage, or at about 15 years of age, a Mursi girl’s lip will be pierced by her mother and a wooden peg pushed through the incision.

Once healed, the peg is changed for a larger diameter one. Eventually, the peg is replaced by a plate of clay or wood, and this plate is successively changed for larger diameter ones until the required diameter is attained – from around 8 – 22 cm in diameter (3 – 9 inches). Once these plates have been secured, she receives a higher degree of respect than those without them, and is known as a ‘Bhansanai’.

These lip and ear plates need not be worn permanently, but are an expected adornment during special occasions such as during weddings and other celebrations, and when they serve food to men. Today, young women can generally make their own decision as to whether or not they follow this tradition.

B. The Masai People of Kenya

The practice of ear gauging has been common among Masai men and women for thousands of years. In recent years, however, most young men have not been following this custom, although you will still find many Masai women wearing ear decorations made from stones, cross-cut elephant tusks, wood and animal bones.

The original piercing is carried out using a thorn, sharpened twig or a sharp knife point. Once healed, ear gauging is then carried out by wearing increasingly heavy jewellery that pulls the lobe down and stretches the piercing. This is the traditional way of gauging ears in the more primitive cultures, although many Masai today will use proper ear gauging techniques, such as their own versions of insertion tapers or taper spikes. Beads are a common form of ornamentation, although plugs made from bone, tusks and wood are also used.

C. The African Fulani Tribe

Fulani women from Nigeria and Central Africa tend to use smaller diameter ear gauges, and decorate them using large gold domes or hoops carrying earrings. A Fulani child will have her ears pierced at around 3 years old, although they may not be stretched until she is older. The gauges used by Fulani women are relatively small compared to the Masai and Mursi, although the jewellery can be larger.

D. Asian Hill Tribes

Of the various hill tribes, the only two known to practice ear gauging are the Lahu from Thailand, and the Karen-Padaung (Longnecks) from Myanmar (Burma) and also the Phrae province in Thailand. That latter tribe are best known for their neck rings, offering the appearance of long necks, but both cultures believe the ear to be sacred and the more jewellery they can wear on the better. By gauging their ears, they are able to wear the maximum amount of jewellery they believe possible.

E. Mexican and Central American Civilizations

In Mayan and Aztec society, ear gauging was regarded as desirable for males. There are many Mayan representations of men with flares and ear plugs (ear spools) in gauged ears, and the material used was indicative of the social standing of the wearer. Jade ear plugs were worn by the higher classes, while the rest would use bone, stone, wood and other materials. In central Mexico, the craftsmanship of the Aztecs is evident in the ear gauging plugs and ornaments of gold and silver, though the lower classes would adorn their stretches earlobes with shells, copper and wood among many other imaginative materials.

Ear gauging has been carried out worldwide, and among other notable areas involved in this practice are Japan, where the Ainu used ear jewellery made from shells, bone and a ball and ring known as Ninkari. There are many other cultures worldwide where ear gauging was a part of their life, and even today many people regard ear stretching as a fashion statement and a way of expressing their own personality and individuality.

Designing and Making Paper Items

There are several ways of decorating paper. Most of the techniques were born out of experimentation of the artist with the colours and other materials found in the environment. This implies that aside from those methods that will be detailed, every artist must endeavour to create new ways of designing paper items.

1. Marbling (controlled and uncontrolled)

2. Comb-pattern

3. Wax resist

4. Doodling

5. Spraying

6. Roller and twine pattern

7. Ink-blowing

1. Marbling (controlled and uncontrolled)

Marbling is a method of making decorative patterns on paper by transferring colour from the surface of a liquid onto paper. Tools and materials required for marbling include paper, brushes, thinner, basin or trough, various colours of oil paint, cooked starch, empty tins, stick, and water.

Controlled Marbling

Process:

1. Fill a trough with cooked starch in an even consistency.

2. Sprinkle different colours of oil paint on the starch.

3. With the aid of the stick, stir gently for the colours to mix on the surface of the starch in order to make the patterns.

4. Place paper flat on top of the starch and tap the back to remove trapped air.

5. Hold one edge of the paper and remove it by dragging it along the edge of the trough to remove the starch.

6. Excess starch is washed off with water and hanged to dry.

Uncontrolled Marbling

Process:

1. Fill a trough with water.

2. Sprinkle different colours on the water.

3. Stir in different directions for the colours to come together over water.

4. Place paper flat on top of the trough and tap the back to remove trapped air.

5. Hold one edge of the paper and remove it by dragging it along the edge of the trough.

2. Comb-pattern

The tools and materials are large brush, paper or hair comb, cooked starch, water, powder colours, paper.

Process:

1. Mix powder colour with cooked starch to an even consistency to form a thin paste.

2. The brush is used to paint paste over the entire surface of paper.

3. The comb is used in making rhythmic patterns on the sheet.

4. It is hanged to dry.

3. Wax resist

Tools and materials required for this paper pattern making technique include brush, crayon or candle, powder colour, paper.

Process:

1. A sheet of paper is folded and creased to create parallel lines.

2. Wax is used to draw lines within the folded lines.

3. Go over the lines for a second run.

4. Colours are mixed and painted over the waxed paper.

Another technique is to sprinkle molten wax on paper. It is painted over with any high key colour. Wax is sprinkled over again and painted over with a low-key colour. After drying it, place the paper between two sheets of newspaper and iron to remove the wax leaving the patterned design.

4. Doodling

The tools and materials used include pencil, colours, paper, and brushes.

Process:

1. Create doodles to cover the entire sheet. Doodles are scribbles make on paper without any forethought plan.

2. Different colours are mixed to paint familiar shapes created by the doodles.

3. Erase the extensions created by the pencil.

5. Spraying

Tools and materials used include spray diffuser or shoe brush, paper, colour, cut out shapes, natural objects.

Process:

1. Arrange the natural objects or patterned templates and maintain their positions with drawing pins on the sheet of paper.

2. Spray colours on the patterns using the spray diffuser or an empty pen barrel with a mesh held at one end.

3. Gently remove the drawing pins and the cut out patterns.

4. The sprayed patterns on the paper is left to dry.

6. Roller and twine pattern

Tools and materials used include paper, printing ink, two hand rollers, rags, twine, thinner, glass slab.

Process:

1. Twine is wound around one hand roller.

2. Printing ink is placed on glass slab and rolled over with the second roller.

3. Printing ink is transferred onto the twined roller by rolling it over the glass slab.

4. The inked twined roller is rolled over the paper from the edge to edge and covered all over.

5. The rollers are cleaned with thinner and a different colour is used to go over the already created pattern to give a two coloured effect.

7. Ink-blowing

Tools and materials used include ink, paper, and empty pen barrel.

Process:

1. Sprinkle the paint at different sections on the paper.

2. Blow the paint to sprinkle it in a hairstyle manner using the empty pen barrel.

3. Leave the paper to dry.

Decorative papers are used for making book covers, endpaper, wrappers, wallpaper, background for calligraphy etc.

What’s the Difference Between 2D and 3D Anyway?

Isn’t it obvious? Well, apparently not quite, when you consider how many people are still struggling with this topic!

The first concept you must grasp is that 3D means 3 dimensional and 2D means 2 dimensional. Now before you think I’m stating the obvious, let me go on to say that the 3D and 2D in animation refer to the dimension in which the animation was created. Ahhhh. The plot thickens eh?

For 2D animation, everything happens on a 2 dimensional platform. Pictures are flat, without depth and offer only one perspective. Objects and characters are usually drawn without the subtle soft shadows we see in real life and colours have few varying shades. In 3D animation, everything happens on a 3 dimensional platform. Pictures have depth and offer multiple perspectives just like in real life and have soft subtle shadows casted on the objects and characters within.

In 2D, characters look cartoonish and unrealistic. In 3D, characters can look cartoonish but realistic at the same time.

Another way to think of this is to think in terms of a painting and a sculpture. 2D is a painting, and 3D is a sculpture. 3D introduces “depth perspective,” so we not only see a rectangle (2D) but a CUBE (3D). You may also want to think of it like being the difference between a photograph of a glass of water (2D) and being able to reach out and actually pick up the glass of water (3D).

Typically, 2D involves “drawing,” or movement on, say, a flat surface (sketch pad, etc.) or in the vertical and horizontal planes. 3D involves “modeling,” i.e., creating objects in 3-dimensions using a computer software, residing in an expansive virtual environment, complete with lights, reflections, other objects, shadows, etc.

You could start training yourself by comparing a cartoon like Bugs Bunny, Aladdin, Lion King (2D) to “Toy Story 1,2 & 3, “Finding Nemo” and “Incredibles” (3D). If you have not watched any of these great cartoons, you should grab one right away or be branded a Neanderthal forever!

Using Bitumen In Art

An ever-increasing amount of artists throughout the entire world are using bitumen as they are beginning to discover the many ways in which this medium can enhance their artwork.

What is bitumen? Bitumen can be described as a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid which is found in most crude petroleums as well as in some natural deposits, sometimes termed asphalt, it is thick and heavy and has to be heated or diluted before it will flow. The primary use of bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder for the aggregate particles.

Bitumen is often utilized in artwork in the following way: If you wish to add another layer of interest to your painting, try painting bitumen over the surface area, after which you can wipe back selected sections of the bitumen with turpentine, you’ll then see how the impressive effect can add another interesting dimension to your creation. I suggest that you use a test canvas first for experimenting, once you have achieved the desired effect and the look that best suits you then go forth and incorporate this amazing medium into your artwork, it will transform your art into something which is compelling and uniquely yours.

Bear in mind that bitumen could also be painted over various surfaces so for all those artists out there who love texture and layering, you will discover that this really is a fantastic medium to layer over a textured surface, for example: If you are using foil as a medium on canvas and you have painted the desired colour that you are wanting over the foil, you could then paint over the colour with bitumen, wipe it back with turpentine and see how bitumen can showcase the texture and once again add another level of interest and intrigue to your artwork.

The possibilities are endless and once you start experimenting with this particular medium you will begin to see how the many ways in which you are able to use it in art is merely limited by the imagination.