Image via Wikepidia user John Hill
Tribes in the East Sepik province of Papa New Guinea to this day still practice an ancient initiation ceremony. A way of testing and introducing adolescents into manhood, the ceremony is a strenuous and painful process, that leaves the men’s skins scarred all over; the effect resembling the crocodile scales.
The meaning behind this ceremony has deeply spiritual and symbolic connotations. The tribe’s people believe that the scars are crocodiles teeth that have swallowed the adolescents and morphed them into ‘crocodile men’.
The event culminates as the tribe’s celebration of the return of the ancestral crocodiles: legend has it, that when they migrated through the Sepik river, the crocodiles established a human population.
As well as a celebration, the ceremony is very important in establishing discipline and testing the strength of the young males. Their backs, buttocks and chest all receive multiple lacerations with bamboo sticks, creating scars that when healed form eloids, ‘sharply elevated, often round or oval scars due to the rich production of collagen in the dermal layer.’
Scarification is a also common amongst other equatorial tribes. It is often practiced on females whose scars are considered to be sexually arousing in a similar way to the act of tribal tattooing (not in a modern fashion douche sense). Scarification for equatorial tribes is a way to strengthen your identity, position and religion within a clan.
Quote via Australian Museum
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