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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Scarification - An Art or Something Else?

I was hitting the little "Next Blog" button at the top of mine last night and came across a blog that is nothing but photographs, posted daily.

Sounds boring, but if you're into art like I am, and have an 18 year old daughter who is an artist as well, in a specialty art program at her high school and enrolling in VCU Arts School next year, well I was immediately captivated.

There were SO many beautiful photographs, but ONE specifically caught my eye. Now if you've read any of my about me blogs or know anything about me, you'll know I'm WAY into tattoos and piercings. The main character in my novel is inked up and pierced to within an inch of her life. That being said, I had to call my daughter over to look at the photograph because I couldn't tell if it was actually ink or a process called scarification.

I'm going to post some pictures, so if you're squeamish, I'll give you the que to click off the page when the time comes.

Scarification has been defined as a lot of things, but here is the Wikipedia definition:

Scarifying involves scratching, etching, or superficially cutting designs, pictures, or words into the skin as a permanent body modification.[1]

In the process of body scarification, scars are formed by cutting or branding the skin. Scarification is sometimes called cicatrization (from the French equivalent).

The act in the United States is termed "body modification" while in other countries, it is performed as a rite of passage or initiation, and in some tribes a measure of bravery or leadership ability.

There are many ways to perform scarification, including:

Strike Branding - think livestock

Cautery Branding - Using a tool similar to a cautering iron

Laser Branding - I've seen descriptions from something similar to an arc welder, to the laser we think about when we think about laser surgery.  A more precise method since depth and nature of injury can be more precisely regulated.

Cold Branding - Direct opposite of strike branding, using an exeptionally cold substance such as liquid nitrogen.  This process causes the scarring to whiten and prevents keloid scarring.

Ink Rubbing - Rubbing tattoo ink into the newly made wounds, often ink rubbings are thought by the novice to be "bad tattoos"

Skin Removal - Need I say more.  Ew.

Packing - Packing an inert substance into a diagonal cut.  Clay, metal, ashes, etc. have been used, and in some cases the ashes of a loved one.

Abrasion - Removal of skin via friction.

There is also Chemical Branding although Wikipedia had no information on the topic.

Healing these wounds is definitely not like healing a regular injury.  For scarifications, a long healing time is critical to the art turning out well.  For that reason the wound is uncovered for long periods of time and often the wound is introduced to irritants such as toothpaste or citrus juice.

So if you've made it this far you're probably wondering WHY anyone would do this?

There are few photographs of the finished product on the web, at least that I could find.  Most of the photographs I found were of the skin directly after the process and I wouldn't do that to you guys.  It's not pretty.  After the healing however, the result can be fantastically beautiful, if you're into that kind of thing.  I'm pretty that a lot of people would be disgusted or even physically revulsed, but for those who are a fan of body modifications, or at least interested in the subject, here is what a healed scarification looks like.

SQUEAMISH ALERT - If you're squeamish, you'll want to navigate elsewhere NOW.


If you're still with me, the question or something else?


Matt Dimitroff said...

That's pretty nifty, but I imagine it's more painful to do than tattooing.

djpr said...

Actually, from what I've read the pain levels are about the same, in some cases, they actually use an inkless tattoo machine to perform the procedure. It's definitely an interesting topic for me anyway, especially if someone wanted to cover existing scars with more aesthetically pleasing ones. Not sure if they can go over existing scar tissue or not though.

AubrieAnne said...

I've seen this before!The results can be very beautiful and obviously won't fade like a tatoo. I'm all for artistic expression so I wouldn't judge anyone who got one, as long as it was for the result and not something else.

djpr said...

I've actually been thinking about this because my forearms are covered with scars, but like I said before, not sure the effect would be the same if there are existing scars there, but it would be a really cool way to make something ugly...well not so much :)

AubrieAnne said...

I would imagine you could add to the pre-existing scars. I don't think you could go over them though. You'd just have to get a really great artist to work on them.

Tatted Mom said...

I definitely recommend getting a good tattoo artist to cover scars (I can actually recommend a shop in Richmond I used to get my tats done at!). I was a piercer as well and am personally opposed to scarification. Most of the time it's done with scalpels, and, if that's the case, the only person that should be doing a procedure of that type is a surgeon...

Anonymous said...

you can cover already existing scars with this, but it all depends on the shape, depth and look of that. obvously you can not cover everything, but some scars can be incorporated into your design. as it was said, tatts cover scars nicely too, but scarification is less visible and you do not have anything put into your body...The only problem with this art is that every and each body heals different, so even perfect cutting work can end up mischaped... but that is part of the fun LOL

Anonymous said...

This is MUCH more painful than a tattoo! The process itself isn't a great deal more painful, but when you then spend weeks scrubbing at the scar with a toothbrush, vaseline and lemon juice it is safe to say that it takes a much higher pain threshold!

This is art, without a doubt.

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