For babies, sticking out their tongue is developmentally and socially appropriate. In Western Culture, we think it is cute and even encourage it. Meanwhile, the baby is learning how to imitate and manipulate his or her mouth thereby learning the beginning of communication.
Somewhere around the age of three years old, the child must learn that sticking out his or her tongue or blowing raspberries is no longer acceptable in life. In Western culture, we have all been taught that this is a rude gesture, and that its meaning is to show contempt for what someone says or does to another. Teachers throughout the country hear complaints from children that “He’s sticking his tongue out at me!” And the perpetrator is generally chastised for being rude.
But did you know that in some cultures it is acceptable to stick your tongue out at someone?
In Tibet sticking out a tongue is an acceptable gesture and is used as both a greeting and a sign of respect? The first time you meet someone, you are supposed to stick your tongue out!
In the culture of the Maori People of New Zealand, sticking the tongue out was a part of the war chant, which preceded battle.The Maori men tattooed their faces (each tattoo in its own pattern), screamed, danced and stuck the tongue out as a sign of intimidation to the enemy.Today, it is still practiced to show visitors their custom and the meaning remains the same—fierceness and strength. If a Maori woman stuck her tongue out, it was a sign of great defiance.
So the next time you travel to Tibet, be sure that you have used The Original TUNG Brush and Gel since you will be expected to stick your tongue out and its appearance and health will be important to that first impression! 😛