Here in the United States, I have heard many people criticize the rise of the tattoo culture. For the “house negro”, an ill placed tattoo can mean denial of employment, social stigmatization, and miscarachterization. But for those of us who are free from the plantation, tattoos can be used to commemorate survival, victory over struggle, and the memories of those who have transitioned.
(Disclaimer: I am tatted.)
While I am not in favor of getting tatted because its “poplar” (i.e. Wiz Khalifa or Gucci Mane can be thanked for the sudden rise in face and neck tatts) , it turns out, there may be something deeper and older behind our addiction to tattoos. For thousands of years, traditional African cultures have used ritual tattoos, known as “scarification” to mark rites of passage into adult hood, and to commemmorate special events.
Check out this video from National Geographic
And you thought your little tatt was bad!
While painful, the men and women who endure scarification talk about being able to transcend the pain and enter a phase of bliss. Yeaaa……
But the results can be spectacular :
Scarification is so much more than a “fad”, it is an important part of cultural acceptance.
“Scarification is a long and painful process, and a permanent modification of the body, transmitting complex messages about identity and social status. Permanent body markings emphasise fixed social, political and religious roles. Facial scarification in West Africa is used for identification of ethnic groups, families, individuals, but also to express personal beauty. It is also performed on girls to mark stages of the life process, such as puberty, marriage etc. They can assist in making them more attractive to men, as the scars are regarded as appealing to touch as well as to look at, but also as testimony that women will be able to withstand the pain of childbirth.
The Tiv of Nigeria value women with raised scars as mates because they consider scarified women more sexually demanding and therefore, likely to bear more children. The Tiv claim the raised scars stay sensitive for many years and they produce erotic sensations in both men and women when touched or stroked. However, it should be kept in mind that multiple, overlapping meanings tend to underlie different decorations in different societies.” – Source
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