Oddly Enough

Human pincushion welcomes Olympics with head of flags

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Wen Shengchu wanted to welcome Olympic visitors from around the world to China, so he decided to set up over 200 miniature flagpoles -- on his head.

Attached to acupuncture pins, the flags represent competing nations and his hope for world peace.

The crowning glory is a needle shaped like the Olympic torch, which slides neatly into his brow.

“We are used to seeing people paint national flags on their faces in other Olympic Games, so I thought why not just put the flags in vertically?,” said the 58 year-old doctor of traditional Chinese medicine.

He insists that his training in acupuncture makes the two-hour stunt, which he has performed to gawping crowds across the country, an invigorating experience.

“It doesn’t hurt at all, but instead every time I do it, I feel more energetic,” he told Reuters as he inserted the flags into his scalp.

“I’ve become accustomed to it, so I know where and how deep I can put the needle,” he said, adding that it helps keep him looking young.

To commemorate the opening ceremony of this year’s Games on August 8, Wei plans an even more dramatic bout of acupuncture: peppering his head with 2,008 needles.

This will take around 18 hours and would out-puncture the 1,790 needles that earned him a place in the Guinness World Records in 2004.

Wei, who picked up the basics of Chinese medicine on his own, started out as a community doctor in China’s southern Guangxi region before launching a cosmetics company.

He says the acupuncture marathons aim to promote world peace and harmony, and not sell products.

As Olympic fervor warms up in China, another man has tattooed his face and neck with the Olympic logo and mascot and fans nationwide are celebrating with everything from poetry to community films.

Wei warned amateurs should not try to imitate him at home.

Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison and Beijing newsroom, editing by Miral Fahmy