Scarification

Scarification involves scratching, etching, burning, or superficially cutting designs, pictures, or words into the skin as a permanent body modification.

 

Image from menviews.com (link)

 

Scarification, as a cultural activity, is widely performed across Africa. In essence, it is the practice of incising the skin with a sharp instrument, (such as a knife, glass, stone, or coconut shell) in such a way as to control the shape of the scar tissue on various parts of the body.  Cicatrisation is a special form of scarification, whereby a gash is made in the skin with a sharp instrument, and irritation of the skin caused by applying caustic plant juices forms permanent blisters. Dark pigments such as ground charcoal or gunpowder are sometimes rubbed into the wound to provide emphasis. These cuts, when healed, form raised scars, known as keloids. The most complicated cicatrisation was probably found in the Congo Basin and neighbouring regions, and among the Akan speakers of West Africa. (from randafricanart.com)

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