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Scarification as Body Art

Updated on August 18, 2015

Tribal Scarification

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Ethiopia: DinkaMursi Men
Ethiopia: Dinka
Ethiopia: Dinka
Mursi Men
Mursi Men


Scarification is not a new form of body modification. In primitive societies, members would scar their bodies to note great defeats and hunts. Among most of the body modifications that took place in primitive societies, scars were used to mark important events in one's life, a sort of rite of passage, marriage, etc.

Today, scarification is another form of body modification to add something 'pretty,' mark a time, express a feeling, etc. It is not as popular as tattoos, but nonetheless, it is a body art.

With this particular body modification, scar tissue is used to imprint words, pictures, and designs upon the body. Cuts are made between 1/4" and 3/4" into the skin.

This is a creative and controled manner to achieve an aesthetically pleasing result.

Types of Scarring



Chemical Scarification

Dremel Scarification

Injection Scarification

Tattoo Gun Scarification

Skin Removal

Ash Rubbing

Scarification Aftercare

There are different thoughts as to healing a scar.

One, is the 'leave it alone' technique, which is pretty self explanatory. Leave it alone, and let it heal. If it was done correctly, the scar should remain prominent.

The the other idea is to irritate it. For this, one must pick at the scab, rub it with a toothbrush, or use a chemical or exfoliate. Sometimes when you irritate the scar, you can cause some portions to become heavier than other. In some cases, picking at the scab will pull up other skin tissues, which can alter the appearance of the scar itself.

Some people suggest rubbing Vaseline into the wound in the direction of the cut lines 3 or 4 times a day.

The most popular method to heal scarification really is the "leave it alone" method. It is the least painful, but in some cases, you may not create the best scar.  But, if the method of creating the scar was dong properly and it was deep enough with the initial process, this shouldn't be of a concern.

Scarification as Body Art

Scarification Pictures

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When many people think about purposely scarring one's body, they think that there is something wrong with the person. I have gotten, 'do you need to talk to someone?' many times. And, maybe some people do need the help, but in many cases people that invest time and money into the scarification process, they do it because they like the feel, and like the results.

Like any other body modification, scarification should be thought about before getting it done, because it is a permanent mark on one's body. But, like other body modifications, like tattoos, scars can be removed via demabrasion techniques and chemicals. But unlike many scars, with scarification over the counter scar solutions, may not cut it, unless applied for long term.

Anyone considering scarification must consider the risks of scarification, as well, as the end result that they wish to achieve. The main concern with scarification is the risk of infection; although infection is a risk in all body modifications, with scarification, there is a minimized after care, so infection risks are higher. Also, if you do not have a skilled professional to perform the scaring, the inexperience can cost you, as improper techniques can be extremely dangerous (I.E. too deep).

Skin Removal and Scalpeling

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During skin removal.End Result of Skin Removal.During Scalpeling.Completed Scalpeling.
During skin removal.
During skin removal.
End Result of Skin Removal.
End Result of Skin Removal.
During Scalpeling.
During Scalpeling.
Completed Scalpeling.
Completed Scalpeling.

Pictures can be found at the official body modification organization.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Had a nose brand. Love it! It,s a horse shoe with the ends Pointing up so my luck will not spill out.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I branded myself with the star of David to celebrate finding out at age 73 about my Jewish heritage...I also am mentally ill.

    • Ellarose92 profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow this was a very good hub and I feel that the people who get this already have the mindset and not worried about the pain! Although I'd be scared some people really have some nice designs

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i have been thinking about scarification for some time and i really want to do it, so i started looking into it. and i want to find an artist in new york, preferably in the city or on long island to do the work. i wanted to find out on average what kind of price i am looking at.

    • ZulmaDear profile image


      8 years ago from TheCrosses, LasCruces

      thanks for the info on scarification. i've been thinking of getting some work done and this hub has made it easier to make my decision on body modification (scarification)! Thanks again.

      -zulmaDear out. ;)

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia

      I've added two books above.

    • profile image


      8 years ago


      i make my special subject for my school leaving examination about body art and especially about scarification and so i want to ask you if ou know any special book which are separately good about the history behind scarification and "new-age"-scarification! greets from austria

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      wow that looks cool not a big fan of body art but some of these look relly good

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      WOW, i love body mods i have tattoos and peircings, but i don't think i could get this done, i have nothing against those who do it, in fact more paower to them, i don't think i could handle it though lol. i don't mind the needles but i don't know about a blade. the end result looks cool though, keep it up!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i was lookin at scarification as part of my art project and your page was really helpful! i don't think people ought to juge others who modify their bodies and a lot of what people have dun i like, i cant say i wud evr go as far as sum of the extreme cases- but i like to hear the reasons people hav them dun cause there's always an explanation for liking them or having them mean something to u

      so thank u for being such a help to me, i hope to show my dad that it's not disgusting or bad and that scarification and other forms of body art can be both beautiful and meaningful (though i can nevr see him letting me gett anything) XD

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Wow, I was really flattered to see my scarification as one of the examples (the swirly looking one). It is a cropcircle with 5 small removals. For those who have never had it done it wasn't as painful as it seems and heals to a very nice subtle design. Thank you for furthering the education about body modifications as art. If a girl can do it anyone can :)

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Georgia

      Dani: I do agree that some body modification is not the prettiest, but to those who get them done must like them and have a reason behind them. You must take every body modification with a grain of salt, and hold you tongue. I don't think that anyone has the right to discriminate or look down upon anyone with a visibile tattoo, scarring, branding, or tongue splitting.

      I find that many mods are spiritual, and that is the reason behind some of them, such as suspension. Some mods such as tongue splitting is a personal liking and I assume a sexual pleasure, but I'm just guessing as I've never spoken with anyone who has it. But, my boyfriend, at one time, wanted his tongue split.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      okay so at school. we have this project. i chose pro body art. because i love piercing and there is no way i'm doing antai for that. however, i think tattooing and all that skin removal and branding and cutting and scarification is just plain disgusting. this is just my own opinion. in my essay, i said that it is all art, learn to admire them than to discriminate them. after all, my argument is pro so i have to say that. though i still don't get how people would have the nerves to do branding and scarification and TONGUE SPLITTING! WHAT THE FUCK. isn't that wayyyy painful and VERY unattractive? a tattoo on your back or your arms is cool. i do NOT look down at people with body art. but all over your face and body? jesus crist.

    • GreatTattoosNow profile image


      11 years ago from San Jose

      Hey Whitney05-

      Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for commenting on one of my hubpages. I have added myself to your list of friends and will get updates as you add new pages.

      This is a great hub on scarification. In terms of Relache and the debate about what exactly is scarification I have no idea. But cool hub anyway thanks for the info.

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Georgia

      It does look similar in some aspects, but as for the first picture, it is more skin removal than cutting. The other two were done with scalpels. I have added two more pictures to the article of examples of the skin removal/cutting.

    • relache profile image


      11 years ago from Seattle, WA

      That's funny, as it looks EXACTLY like electo-cautery branding.

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Georgia

      These are forms of scarification in which portions of the skin are removed via scalpeling.

    • relache profile image


      11 years ago from Seattle, WA

      this lens isn't actually showing scarification, it's showing branding. Please note both method are very, very different.

    • becauseilive profile image


      11 years ago from N.J.

      Hey Maddie and Whitney, I wrote a hub about this not too long ago regarding scarification and it's origins, check it out:

      PS: Whitney, I LOVE your icon of the belly button piercing, SO hot!!

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 

      11 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Thank you so much for this great hub! I think scarification is greatly misunderstood by the majority of Western society. Thanks for enlightening us about this ancient, beautiful art!


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