skip to content

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

 
Three body stamps in a horizontal row. L-R: a rectangular stamp with geometric raised relief, in a rectangle and hourglass shape; a rounded stamp with raised relief of a human figure, the raised part black from ink; a rectangular stamp with raised reliefs

Body stamps
20th century
Colorado, Venezuela
1982.854.1-66 (selection)


"As someone with an interest in body art, documenting 88 body stamps in one day was an exciting challenge. This is just a small selection and I love the uniqueness of each design and wonder what they represent. There are more in the museum; can you find them?"

Sam Daisley


88 Body Stamps in 480 Minutes

As someone interested in body art and its significance to people, I felt lucky to work with this group of body stamps. Each stamp has a unique design, some double-sided, and some with black pigment still on the surface showing they were used before entering the museum. I wanted to discover more about the designs and their meaning, but the most information I could find was on an Etsy listing! Despite not knowing their meanings, the stamps still resonate with me.

 

These objects also represent a professional success for me, when I worked with them last year. The 88 stamps had been stored in mixed cardboard boxes, so my first task was to sort and order them, making processing them on the database an easier task. From there, I worked on the stamps in groups of ten – ten database records, and ten photographs. This avoided monopolising the photo studios, but also ensured I didn’t stare at the database for too long!

I hadn’t planned to process all 88 stamps in one day – our usual goals are between 15 and 20 objects a day (and it was a Friday); but as the day started to draw to a close, I could see I was getting closer and closer to processing the final stamp. The last five minutes of the day were a slightly adrenaline-fuelled rush to upload the last ten photos. It was a proud, if not slightly shaky moment to sit back and see that I had processed all 88 stamps in one day! Of course, come Monday morning they all needed to be packed into easily accessed boxes, which you can see on display with the stamps.

 

 

Explore these objects further:

If you’d like to see the whole stamp collection, search 1982.853 and 1982.854 on our online database.

Explore the full collections database:

https://collections.maa.cam.ac.uk


Sam Daisley - Collections Assistant (Stores Move)

 

Sam Daisley (BA, MA) has a background in History and Museum Studies, with an interest in Anglo-Saxon saints' cults. In her current role she is documenting, photographing and packing collections at MAA's off-site stores, ready for the move to the new Centre for Material Culture. She has previously worked with local history collections and in volunteer management.

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.