Scarification; History Fun Fact Vol. 32

Scarification; History Fun Fact Vol. 32
June 10
15:21 2018

Scarification; The Tattoos of the Ancient African’s:

Scarification was the chosen body-art of many ancient African cultures. We can even witness it still alive today, in its ancient form, among some still alive tribal cultures in Africa. More precisely, scarification became the preferred body-art of black Africans. Tattoos were indeed very popular with many more lightskinned Africans that lived especially in the northeastern part of the African continent (such as Egypt and Tunisia).

But for black Africans who had a much darker pigmentation, the inks of the time wouldn’t show very clearly in their skin. The ink would be far too subtle, if it would show at all. So many African tribes and cultures, became fans of scarification. Creating permanent scars, in place of tattoos. They would still mix soot and such, into the wounds created, to accentuate them and make them stand out more. But it was much less about creating a drawing on the skin, it was rather creating patterns out of scars.

Often the markings would be specific to a given tribe. So they would use them to identify friend from foe. Even when western settlers came to Africa, they were able to recognize who the friendly tribes were, from their scarification markings. There were many more uses for the scarification’s, especially those of the face. Used to mask the wearers age or fear in battle, among many other uses (Hesselt Van Dinter, 2005).

Final Comment:

Scarification, yet another form of body-art, which has quite the illustrious and fascinating history. The African form of this body-art, is only one of many. They each have their own history and cultural use. We can never stop learning more and more, about our body-art heavy past, as human beings.

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About Author



Mads W. K. Masters of science in Sociology (Cand. Scient. Soc.), from the University of Copenhagen, who specializes in embodiment sociology, but especially in tattoos and tattoo culture etc.

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