Human tooth sharpening
Human tooth sharpening is the practice of manually sharpening the teeth, usually the front incisors. Filed teeth are customary in various cultures. Many remojadas figurines found in part of Mexico have filed teeth and it is believed to have been common practice in their culture. The Zappo Zap people of the Democratic Republic of Congo are believed to have filed their teeth.
Many cultures have practiced this form of body modification. In Bali, in a ritual known as Potong gigi, canine teeth were filed down because it was thought that the teeth represented anger, jealousy, and other similar negative emotions. The teeth were also sharpened as a rite of passage for adolescents. Teeth filing was also used by Aborigines for spiritual reasons, as well as assorted Vietnamese and Sudanese tribes. In Maya culture, the teeth were sharpened, and sometimes had designs carved into them, to distinguish those in the upper-classes. Many cultures would sharpen their teeth to imitate animals, such as the Wapare of intertropical Africa, who sharpened their teeth to imitate sharks, as well as kicking out some mandibular teeth during puberty. In Ancient China, a group called Ta-ya Kih-lau (打牙仡佬, literally 仡佬 (Gelao people) who beat out their teeth") had every woman about to wed knock out two of her anterior teeth to "prevent damage to the husband's family." Some cultures have distinctions between which sex does what to their teeth. In the central Congo region, the Upoto tribe has men file only teeth in the maxillary arch, whereas women file both maxillary and mandibular arches. The Mentawai people have also traditionally engaged in this practice.
David Livingstone mentions a number of African tribes who practice teeth-filing, including the Bemba, Yao, Makonde, Matambwe, Mboghwa and Chipeta. 
Examples in the modern world
- Ota Benga was a Congolese pygmy imported to a zoo in the United States whose front teeth were sharpened when he was a young boy.
- Horace Ridler, "the Zebra man", included tooth sharpening as one of many bodily modifications he underwent in order to serve as a circus performer.
- DeMello, Margo (2007). Encyclopedia of Body Adornment (Illustrated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 81. ISBN 0-313-33695-4.
- VICE Asia (2018-10-30), Grinding Teeth: The Wild Indonesian Coming Of Age Ritual, retrieved 2019-02-13
- Frazer, James George (2006). Totemism and Exogamy: A Treatise on Certain Early Forms of Superstition and Society. 4. Kessinger Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1-4254-9924-4.
- Frazer, James George (2006). Totemism and Exogamy: A Treatise on Certain Early Forms of Superstition and Society. 4. Kessinger Publishing. p. 187. ISBN 1-4254-9924-4.
- Frazer, James George (2006). Totemism and Exogamy: A Treatise on Certain Early Forms of Superstition and Society. 4. Kessinger Publishing. p. 193. ISBN 1-4254-9924-4.
- Ver Berkmoes, Ryan (2010). Indonesia (eBook ed.). Lonely Planet Publications. p. 428. ISBN 1-74104-830-3.
- "The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central Africa. From Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-five to his Death. Continued by a Narrative of his Last Moments and Sufferings, Obtained from his Faithful Servants, Chuma and Susi, by Horace Waller, F.R.G.S., Rector of Twywell, Northhampton". 1875-01-01. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
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