Permanent decorations

Some body decorations were permanent. The Mayans squeezed the skulls of the most privileged infants between two boards to elongate and flatten their heads and tried to promote crossed eyes by hanging a ball from children's bangs in the center of their forehead. Mayan kings and noblemen, or aristocrats, bored holes in their front teeth and inserted decorative pieces of stone, especially green jade and glossy black obsidian, which comes from hardened molten lava. All Mayans filed points on their teeth to make their mouths look more appealing. After marriage, some Mayans applied tattoos to their face and body. Some Aztec women stained their teeth red with the crushed bodies of cochineal insects, a native bug, to make

■ ■ ■ BODY DECORATIONS OF MAYANS, AZTECS, AND INCAS

themselves more sexually appealing. Aztec warriors signaled their success with the size and shape of the lip plugs that they inserted into a slit made in their lip. The most successful Aztec warriors inserted plugs shaped like animals and plants, while less skilled warriors inserted plainer shells and simple disks into their lips. Wealthy and honored Inca men earned the nickname orejones, or "big ears," from Spaniards for the large disks made of gold, silver, or wood they inserted into stretched slits in their earlobes.

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