Wild piercing festival pics show swords and model boats through peoples cheeks

A wild piercing festival has seen participants penetrate their flesh in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways.

One man has even been pictured holding a model boat at the side of his face with an attached metal bar entering his cheek and coming out through his mouth.

Instagram has been flooded with photographs from the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Phuket, Thailand.

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The nine-day Taoist carnival coincides with Phuket's Vegetarian Festival that is also held on the island at the same time, with vegans witnessing some truly fleshy sights.

Along with the model boat, other outlandish mouth and facial piercings on view included metal spikes, swords, skewers and pretty much anything sharp enough to puncture the skin.

To demonstrate their holiness, the heavily-pierced festival goers also dance on hot coals as part of the ritual.

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This year's event has seen a particularly enthusiastic response, as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival was suspended during the coronavirus pandemic.

And its return prompted thousands of people from the ethnic Chinese community to adorn traditional costume and congregate together before taking part in the Kathu Shrine procession.

Both the Vegetarian and Nine Emperor Gods festivals take place during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar in traditions that date back some 150 years.

According to legend, a visiting Chinese opera troupe once fell ill in Phuket but, after performing rituals for the Emperor Gods and following a strict vegetarian diet, they went on to make a full recovery.

During the festival, devotees abstain from meat, alcohol and sex, meanwhile, with the piercings said to symbolise repentance for sins, while carrying the power to ward off evil spirits.

After removing a metal spike from her cheeks, Patcharaporn Phromchai said: "We may have said good or bad things, so the piercing is for us to feel the sins we’ve committed."

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