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The familiar word "earmark" derives its origin from the practice of notching, clipping, or perforating the ears of sheep or cattle for purposes of identification. In the great western ranges of the United States, such a conspicuous mark was important for quick identification because the animal instinctively turned toward the horseman, obscuring the brand on the flank.
Man, alone among the animals, is the only one unwilling to leave his body as nature made it. In the tropics, where a minimum of clothing is worn, he scarifies or tattoos his skin. Where protected by clothing, the exposed head and face are decorated. Each tribe or civilization has had its peculiar devices for ornamentation. They include stone, bone, ivory, teeth, feathers, metals, plastics, ceramics, wood, seeds, and shells. They may be for adornment only or have symbolic meaning. They may be a mark of distinction or prestige. The Abadis women of
Bradford Cannon. EARMARK. JAMA. 1966;195(3):213. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100030107031