Faces Around the World

A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Human Face
Faces Around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Human Face. ABC-CLIO. 2012. 308p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781598846171. $89. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF
DeMello (sociology & anthropology, Central New Mexico Community Coll.; Encyclopedia of Body Adornment) brings a cultural anthropology perspective to this work, which contains a variety of thematic entries on all aspects of the human face. According to the preface, "this encyclopedia is the first of its kind to take a comprehensive look at the face throughout history and around the world." Cultures are profiled generally by region (e.g., North America, North Africa) or smaller geographic units (e.g., Easter Island, New Guinea). Topics include piercings and other modifications of the face, cosmetics and other facial adornments, and artistic representations of the face in various religious traditions (e.g., Buddhism, Christianity). Subjects such as blackface, bindis, earlobe stretching, masks, crowns, headdresses, and veiling are explored; other eclectic listings touch on emoticons, the Shroud of Turin, Guy Fawkes, and even Facebook. Lesser-known subjects such as moko (Maori tattoos), prosopanosia (face blindness), and diprosopus (being born with two faces) are also covered. Additionally, DeMello introduces a historical dimension in her discussions of, e.g., Greco-Roman societies and Ancient Egypt. Quotes and anecdotes are scattered throughout, and the volume includes an extensive bibliography. While the cross-references are helpful, the resource could have used more articles on specific features such as the eye or nose, with anatomical information and pictures of different types. Still, concise entries with suggestions for further reading make this an ideal source for students.
VERDICT This interesting introduction consolidates hard-to-find information and provides many resources for continued exploration.
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