Trudy very kindly left a comment on Nip, Tuck, Chop, Hack (Oct. 27th) in which she gave us the word for dueling scars. This useful information and a bit of free time on my part has allowed me to find images of two types of ‘body modification’ that had previously eluded me – head binding and cheek cutting. Many dueling scars were genuine but an interesting wed site on this weird subject www.pickelhauben.net/articles/Students.htm has this comment. ‘For a student and all of German society, the badge of courage was the Schmiss, the dueling scar, or sometimes called the Renommierschmiss, or bragging scar, mostly on the left side of the face, where blows would fall from a right-handed duelist. This was borne by a generation of doctors, jurists, professors and officials, certifying the owner’s claim to manly stature. The dueling scar was certain to attract attention because it signified courage and breeding. There are stories that students would resort to self-infliction with a razor. Those who received their Schmiss in this less honorable way would frequently enhance it by pulling the wound apart and irritate it by pouring in wine or sewing horse hair into the gash.’ God! If that’s what the doctors, jurists, professors and officials were doing, imagine what the criminal class was like! This practice and head binding are of particular interest in telling us about the human psyche. It would seem to be innate to find injury and deformity ugly and to avoid them if at all possible. But cheek cutting at least, shows that the desire to appear ‘manly’ could override this natural feeling. As for what desires or ideas gave rise to head binding I have no idea. What a pity people don’t take more interest in changing their minds.
From tomorrow my blog will host a Tibet Month in which most of the posts will deal with matters related to Tibet, including my impressions of and experiences in that country.