Cutting and scarification have been around for centuries. It
originated in several African and indigenous Australian cultures,
and often communicated elements of their cultural system and
religious beliefs. The Baule people of the Ivory Coast believed that
scarification was the ultimate mark of civilization, and without
these marks, a person is not considered part of the community. The
Tiv of Nigeria use facial scarification for aesthetic reasons to
enhance facial features. Among the Maori of New Zealand, highborn
males endure an elaborate and painful form of tattooing called Moko.
Moko is cutting and chiseling away the skin and filling it with a
pigment to create elaborate designs used show status within the
tribe and intimidate their enemies in battle. In many cultures, a
woman's eagerness to bear the pain of scarification is an indication
of emotional maturity and willingness to bear children. It can serve
as an emblem of the strength, fortitude, and courage of both men and
women. As a result, scars elicit society's admiration.
Scarification is the art of creating designs in the body through the use of scar tissue. Scarifying involves scratching, etching, or superficially cutting designs, pictures, or words into the skin as a permanent body modification.
Scarification is most commonly done by two different methods, branding or cutting.
Tattoo ink (or another sterile coloring agent) is rubbed into a fresh cut. Most of the ink remains in the skin as the cut heals, and will have the same basic effect as a tattoo. As with tattoos, it is important not to pick the scabs as this will pull out the ink. The general public often interprets ink-rubbings as poorly done tattoos
Cutting in single lines produces relatively thin scars, and skin removal is a way to get a larger area of scar tissue. The outlines of the area of skin to be removed will be cut, and then the skin to be removed will be peeled away. Scars from this method often have an inconsistent texture.
This method is uncommon in the West, but has traditionally been used in Africa. A cut is made diagonally and an inert material such as clay or ash is packed into the wound; massive hypertrophic scars are formed during healing as the wound pushes out the substance that had been inserted into the wound. Cigar ash is used in the United States for more raised and purple scars; people may also use ashes of deceased persons.
similar in appearance to flesh removal this method of scarification relies on using a sterile surgical scalpel to cut into the skin. Where a larger area is required to be scarred you cut with a hatching technique similar to the sketching technique. This method is easier to perform than flesh removal and can be done with one hand which could be beneficial in some situations. While this technique can take longer for larger pieces it is useful for smaller, more detailed designs and enables shading to be used.
The best implements to use for any cutting are scalpels or surgical blades. Hobby blades and x-acto knives are not suitable as they are not as sharp as a scalpel, and they are slightly serrated, which leaves a jagged cut and uneven scarring can occur. Also, many hobby blades are lightly oiled, which irritates the cut in a bad way. If deep cuts are made at an angle, they can be packed with clay or ash, which helps in the scarring process. This process was fairly common in Africa until recent Western influence has caused this method to dwindle out. During healing, the body will either envelop the clay or force it out, causing a very slow healing wound that has a lot of scar tissue built up around it.
Scars can be formed by removing layers of skin through abrasion. This can be achieved using an inkless tattooing device, or any object that can remove skin through friction (such as sandpaper). Chemical scarification uses corrosive chemicals to remove skin and induce scarring. The effects of this method are typically similar to other, simpler forms of scarification; as a result there has been little research undertaken on this method.
The common practice on healing a scarification wound is use of irritation. Generally, the longer for a wound to heal, the more pronounced the scar will be. Thus, in order to have pronounced scars, the wound may be kept open for a protracted time. This is by abrading scabs and irritating the wound with chemical or natural irritants such as toothpaste or citrus juice. Some practitioners use tincture of iodine which has been proven to cause more visible scarring (this is why it's no longer used for treating minor wounds). With this method, a wound may take months to heal.
Keloids are raised scars. Keloiding can be a result of genetics, skin color (darker skin types are more prone to keloiding), or irritation. Keloids are often sought for a visual, 3-D effect and for tactile effects.
If an enclosed area perimeter is cut or branded, the skin inside of the closed space may die off and scar due to a lack of blood flow. Scarification produces harm and trauma to the skin; thus it is considered by many to be not safe. Infection is a concern. Not only do the materials for inducing the wounds need to be sanitary, but the wound needs to be kept clean, using antibacterial solutions or soaps often, and having good hygiene in general.