I first saw this photo on Brian‘s page a few days ago, so when I saw he had submitted it to his portfolio gallery I made sure to get it up as soon as possible. Now there is a fantastic story behind this piece, and since Brian explained it so nicely, I’ll let his words explain the bands.
I don’t remember if i posted about this last year, but here is some scar work i did on a young, Native American girl. In her Blackfoot tribe it is customary to have a line scarred around their arm for each year they’re alive. It is known as Ponn Miistis, which literally translates to “the rings of a tree”. When they run out of room on one arm they move to the other, then the legs, but apparently their average life expectancy is only 43.
Anyhow, her parents are more modernized now and didn’t want her having this done while she was growing up. She was intrigued by her grandfather’s rings, which covered his arms and legs, so decided to come to me from Montana to catch up. Last year i worked on her upper arm and finished it up this time. She’s 24 now.
She promises to be back every year for another line, too!
I love the fact that not only is this scarification so deeply personal for the girl, it is also a way to remind the rest of us where our modifications come from. When I read news stories talking about a “new trend” of people getting scars, it saddens me to think that we live in a world where the vast majority has no concept of just how significant cultural rituals involving modification are. Of course I’m speaking from a North American perspective. There are many places the world over where not only are these rituals remembered, they are still practiced. Thanks to this brave young woman, and Brian’s talents as an artist, the people she encounters in her life will be able to learn of a tradition that has faded away.