Body Art and Scarification

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Congo
African Body Art:

Scarification

Scarification is a Cultural practice among the African Culture. Some of the most elaborated patters scaring are found among the indigenous people of the Congo. The climate and costume in the Congo enable and promoted people to décor their bodies. Scarification is a procedure of incising the skin with a sharp tool to create raised marks and/or patterns. The tools used to cut the epidermis of the body are knife, glass, stone, coconut shell or seeds. Sometimes the wounds are manipulated with ashes or other substances to make them swell and leave a heavier scar. Beautiful and complex designs depended not only on the artist's skill, but also the person's tolerance of pain.

Scarification as a cultural practice carries a strong cultural significance within the individual, families, communities and society. Both men and women practice scarification. The main purpose of the practice is a notion of cultural aesthetic. Although there are many reasons for the practice of scarification, the quest for beauty is an essential issue or meaning to its use. In African Culture we have seen different practices that involve body modification. For example the lip plates, cranial deformation or teeth mutilation. Which are all meant for an aesthetic purpose. Among the African society the relief of the scars is found attractive and sensual in a women who wear them. Also the decorations on their bodies was belief to please the ancestors. The second cultural significance I find in the practice of Scarification is “Identity”. Scarring can say a lot about the person wearing it. The symbols used can transmit messages of identity and social status. It can be a matter of family pride, an indicator of one’s descent or tribal grouping. The design identifies a certain village or tribe.

The scarring often takes place during rituals. The tribe people celebrate different stages of their life in rituals where scarification is performed. For example...
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