Body modification takes many forms world-wide, from temporary painting and dying of the skin to permanent modification of body shape or surface texture.
Many groups in Africa use cicatrization (scarification) to produce permanent patterns on the skin, often starting in childhood and adding new designs throughout adult life. Scars may be produced by medical treatment, when medicinal substances are scratched or incised into the skin. They may also be purely decorative. Although some facial scars are thought to ward off disease or evil eye, they may also be markers of social status, personal traits, political rank, or religious and ritual authority. Among the Yoruba of Nigeria, body incising is a respected specialty, and practitioners owe allegiance to Ogun, the god of iron.
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