AFRICAN BODY ART 39

Types of African Body Art

In many tribes, little clothing was worn as the body was seen as a canvas for decoration. Body decoration and transformation occurred at set times in a person’s life and the decoration was thought to enhance a person’s status and beauty.

While beadwork and jewelry were also frequently used as a means of beautification, there are a few types of body art that dominate.

Scarification

Tribal scarification is the art of scarring the skin in decorative patterns. Scars can be packed with inks or dyes to form rudimentary tattoos, packed with dirt to form large, raised keloids or left in thin, delicate swirls.

Body Paint

White and red ochre body paint is used to decorate the face and body for many reasons. Oil, clay, chalk and plant dyes are used to form decorative patterns significant to a person’s place in life. In some tribes, body painting is used more like clothes, to form a daily “outfit” worn for a short period of time.

Mud

Colored mud may be used in lieu of body paint to decorate not only the body but also the hair. Hair may be covered in a thick layer of colored mud before special events in a man’s life.

Shaving

The shaving of the hairline until smooth before covering the rest of the hair in colored mud may be undertaken by some men entering puberty.

Body Piercing

Piercing of the lip, ears or nose is a common form of African tribal body art. The piercing may be adorned with bone, ivory plugs, bronze or other metal jewelry as well as shells and fish vertebrae. The more rare a type of jewelry was, the more it was prized, being used for trade or even money in some cases. Wearing this jewelry in the body can be a sign of wealth or status.

Taken from: Love to Know.com/African Tribal Body Art and Google.com/African body Art

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