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Tattoos, piercings, and body markings have played roles in many cultures for millennia, serving as identification, protection, and decoration.Here, a young monk is tattooed with a sharp rod near a Buddhist temple in Thailand. For hundreds of years, women in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia have decorated their bodies with designs painted with a paste made from henna leaves, a practice called mehndi in India. A Mursi woman from the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia is adorned with face markings and an ornamental clay lip plate, considered signs of beauty among her people. Tattoos on the face and body of a Montreal man known as Zombie are intended to make him resemble a decomposed corpse. Scars form a pattern on the abdomen of a young woman in Benin, where such ritual markings may be endured at young age. A nightclub in Rome, Italy, attracts patrons—like this man with facial piercings and eerie contact lenses—who identify with its Gothic theme.
One of Japan’s top tattoo artists creates traditional Japanese art on a woman’s back during a cultural performance for the press in Tokyo.
If you’re lost in the New Orleans Ninth Ward, asking for directions may not be helpful.  Locals have some interesting pronunciations for the street names. In actuality, Ninth Warders’ intonations are more correct than visitors’.  As a community founded by majority French and German immigrants, the French street names have kept their original pronunciations.
While the French pronounce Chartres something like shyr-tre, New Orleanians forgo the harsh “r” sounds and just rearrange the letters, referring to it as Charters.  And, in the Ninth Ward, Burgundy is not a color, but a street pronounced like Burr (as in Aaron) – Gun – Dee.
You can hear some of  these French Street names in the audio clip below from three of my Ninth Ward oral history interviews.


National Geographic VoicesResearchers, conservationists, and others around the world share stories and commentary on the National Geographic Society's conversation platform Voices. Society Field Inspection 2016: Gulf of CaliforniaDescribed by Jacques Cousteau as the "aquarium of the world," the Gulf of California in Mexico is threatened by coastal development, climate change, and other human activities. Support National GeographicWe've supported more than 11,000 grants to scientists and others in the field.Learn more about our work.
Two years after being discovered deep in a South African cave, the 1,500 fossils excavated during the Rising Star Expedition have been identified as belonging to a previously unknown early human relative that National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger and team have named Homo naledi. With at least 15 individuals of all ages and both sexes represented, the find adds an unprecedented amount of information to our understanding of early human evolution in Africa. In addition, the absence of any other animal remains or large debris in the fossil chamber strongly suggests that these non-human beings intentionally deposited their dead within this cave. Tattoos are believed to bestow the monks with ancient Khmer prayers and the spiritually protective power of animal images. Trendy in recent years, the lacework decorations are part of a tradition of creating designs to ward off evil or declare one’s happiness. Tattooing is one of the oldest forms of art and is laden with as many different meanings as there are global cultures.
In recent years, human rights groups have expressed concerns about the practice and its exploitation by companies catering to tourists. Members of the indigenous Indian tribe strive to retain cultural traditions even as they forge ties with the modern world.


The presentation aimed to introduce the historical and cultural underpinnings of tattoo art. Though, not in the Ninth Ward, the New Orleans pronunciations of streets named for Hellenic muses are amusing. Completely throw the word street out when you are in the French Quarter — rue, the French word for street, is used instead. Posters and commenters are required to observe National Geographic's community rules and other terms of service. To learn firsthand what's going on in and around this marine treasure of global importance, the National Geographic Society sent its top scientists and officials to the region in January 2016. And, instructing an out-of-towner that Tulane Avenue is a four-lane road sounds like history’s worst rendition of Who’s on First.
They toured the desert islands off the southeastern coast of the Baja Peninsula and they listened to presentations by more than a dozen experts, including several whose Baja California research is funded by the Society.



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