Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
In some English speaking countries, to say you are in your "birthday suit" means to be in what you came into the world with on the day you were born....only your own skin. Your body, mind and spirit are uniquely yours as you enter onto the Earth. You may have "birth marks" and/scars from the birth process or particular colors of skin on different parts of your body, but essentially you are born free of designs or "stamps" made by human beings.
Some families, cultures and religions actually forbid you to deliberately "mark" your skin in any way and that includes scarification and tattoos. Other cultures, tribes and families won't consider you a full participant and member until you are marked, usually in ceremony, to prove you have endured the process and to display important personal and cultural histories, symbols and power. These skin marks are not done as commercial ventures in traditional societies. You cannot buy mana.
A few societies have responded to the scourge of war, kidnapping of their children and slavery/trafficking by intentionally marking/scarring their children with cuts to their face so they will be recognized, and if taken or lost-identified and retrieved.
"When kingdoms in Africa were invaded and people were kidnapped, clans started marking their members to differentiate themselves and also to be able to know where an individual belonged to, peradventure there were chances for their return home. Slave trade later became the primary reason for the advent of tribal marks in Nigeria. Families became separated as people were often taken away as slaves and to avoid completely losing their folk, they decided to mark their faces, hoping it would help to hold family ties. Such marks were used by individuals to trace their source, no matter how long they might have been held captive." www.vanguardngr.com/2014/10/marked-life-tribal-marks-attractive-repulsive/
Where a mark was/is placed on the human body is also of consequence. Markings on adults are sometimes placed for messages or for display, for "rank" and political or martial purposes. One example is the use of the warrior "taurape" (buttocks tattoo) and "puhoro" (thigh tattoo) which often non-Maori take as a challenge or "wero" and are intimidated just by the sight of such a tattoo and the exposure of skin and musculature of strong fighting age men. Evidently facebook executives and censors are afraid because they banned photos with these designs and Maori tattoos on a number of users personal pages. www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/tattooed-man-rubbishes-facebook-censorship-his-bum-says-if-you-dont-like-look
While I was not born into a family or culture which marked it's members, with the exception of pierced ears, which I had done with my paternal grandmother when I was young; I have been welcomed, adopted and participated in ceremonies, living with two cultures and tribes which do consider marking important to indicate status, important life and tribe events, victories and unique histories. These are not done as "body art" but often on the body there is an deeper beauty etched into the skin and some may consider this "artistic", without even knowing the significance or meaning.
In many "societies" including certain martial arts communities-scarification after undergoing tests of endurance, strength and commitment-indicate a person has undergone and passed certain "tests" or levels. (see photo below) Often these scars or tattoos are hidden under clothing. www.martialtribes.com/harsh-shaolin-temple-life/
In many Indigenous societies ceremonies include rituals which involve cutting or burning the skin or both, and scars are an indication one has passed through that ceremony or initiation. Prayers, meditation, sweat lodges, chanting and sacred movements as well as herbs, prepare the individual for all the rituals required. There are some books and a few photos of these rituals online now, but generally this was discouraged, especially when I was a Sundancer for over twelve years in the 1990s, and into the 2000s, on Lakota, Menominee and Kickapoo lands. Not all Sundancers pierce and many stricter Wicasca Wakan (Medicine men) and Intercessors only allow men to pierce but almost all give "flesh offerings" which do scar the skin. Getting tattoos are decided upon after Sundance in consultation with elders or tribal leaders as well. The design may take years to complete as does each vow to Sundance which is usually for at least four years at a time. I was taught that what you inscribe on your skin can bring down different energies/power/trouble depending on what you have tattooed. You must also never put on tribal tattoos you are not given permission to use, or you are not entitled to display.
Marking the skin with ochre, chalky paint, henna, charcoal and fruit stain can also be part of sacred rituals and designate a certain tribe, status and ceremony. Aboriginal tribes in Australia, Papua New Guinea and in many African nations, utilize these for either temporary or permanent skin marking, depending on the cultural methods and applications. Continual pressure or drawing on parts of the body may over time, naturally mark a part of the forehead or hands and/or back as part of a religious practice; such as some followers of Islamic traditions or certain sects of Christianity and Hinduism.
Both men and women may have markings in the Maori tradition of "moko". Unfortunately sometimes these have been appropriated for commercial purposes and therefore the marking may not hold the tribal significance it once indicated or which had to be earned. The process has been modified so most ta moko no longer are made with the traditional instruments of chisel and mallet, but with needles and electricity. Many tourists come to New Zealand for their 'Maori design' tattoos in commercial tattoo galleries in Auckland, Rotorua and Queenstown. (see photo above and below)
Indigenous tattoo artists living on the island of Borneo, are fiercely proud of their elaborate ancient traditions. Borneo is still known as a place where exceptional tattoo artists and spiritual "advisers"/ shaman reside and practice their art. Women in one of the Borneo tribes, the Kayan, believe that tattoo designs act as torches after death, leading them through the darkness of the afterlife to the longhouses of their beloved ancestors. Kayan tattooing is largely female-centric, although male warriors were/are tattooed, too. The process is a long and painful one, sometimes lasting four years. Several elders explained the implications of flowing blood released during the rite. “It attracted evil spirits,” said former Kayan tattooist Ping Saram. “So there were prohibitions (within tribal protocol) to regulate this.”
“Kayan tattooists worked under the tutelage and protection of two spirits,” said Hunyang Lisang, a female Kayan priest, or dayong. “They were invoked before any tattooing pattern was initiated for a female client. The prayer announced to the spirit which particular design was to be applied, and asked for the client to feel little pain and that the tattooist make beautiful designs. Kayan women were extensively tattooed on their hands, arms, feet, and legs. (see photo above) One of the most powerful tattoo motifs was the lukut, or bead design, resembling a star. This powerful tattoo was worn on the knuckles, wrists, or forearms and was believed to keep the soul from wandering away from its human host." www.asiangeo.com/culture/spiritual-skin/
Unfortunately the Islamic government of Malaysia is working hard to outlaw and eliminate the ancient rites of tattooing and the Indigenous religions - especially in Borneo.
Military and law enforcement personnel in many countries also mark their skin either during their time in service or after. Insignias, mottos, names of those killed in action, symbols, secret codes, numbers are tattooed to identify allegiances on all parts of the body - depending on the individual or the unit's choice and tradition. For some, adding a tattoo after a difficult deployment can be part of the passage to separate and distance oneself from that time, and a way of healing trauma and adding "closure" by imprinting the experience within a design inked on their own skin. (see photos below)
Militant militia groups and criminal gangs also use tattoos to identify themselves and to brand those captive by them or subservient to them. It is not reported (as far as I know) that Daesh/ISIS groups and certain militia groups in Iraq and the Levant countries of Syria and Lebanon had tattoos for their members, and often branded their captives. They kidnapped 'sex slaves' from the Christian and Yezidi families in Iraq and Syria as well as Druze women and children. www.jpost.com/Middle-East/14-Druze-women-kidnapped-in-latest-ISIS-atrocity-in-Syria-563711
Some of those captured tattooed themselves in any way possible so they would be marked and identifiable if/when they were released or killed. Some of those survivors try to find ways to cover these tattoos with biblical verses or other inspiring, protective symbols and texts as part of erasing that terrible chapter in their lives.
Recently sex rings and child sex trafficking in the USA have been uncovered and branded "tattoos" or permanent skin scarring was one way to identify members and victims. One such organization, Nxivm- included high power businessmen like Richard Branson, politicians, Hollywood starlets, "influencers" and religious leaders-yes-this is happening:: mcmmadnessnews.blogspot.com/2019/06/nxivm-in-killbox.html
Many of you will be familiar with cartel, criminal gang, mafia, prison and Vor V Zakone markings and tattoos. I won't dignify them or give them any more publicity by displaying criminal gang scars, tattoos and other markings online. You can start your search in the updated "Gang Intelligence Manual" by Bill Valentine, or books by Lou Savelli if you are interested in this subject. Remember, as intriguing as some of these designs may be...putting them on your own body, without the requisite permission, initiation and pain in body and soul associated with membership-can actually get you killed. These serious gangs and those who have been inmates, do not tolerate "copycats" or "wannabes". They may burn, cut or kill a person for wearing their "tatts" or specific skin markings. Be forewarned.
You might wonder....do I have skin markings? The answer is yes. I know firsthand about initiation and ceremonial scars, earned tattoos, forced and voluntary tattoos. My own skin displays some of my unique history.
Closing this week with a great raw song by the band from Quincy, Massachusetts, USA, whose members have Irish ancestry and lots of tattoos. This is-Dropick Murphy's- singing and playing, "Rose Tattoo" enjoy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9d8SzG4FPyM
From Haumoana, Aotearoa until next week,