The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Androgyny

Scarification is a general term for a process whereby the skin is intentionally cut, burned or formed to create specific patterns after it heals. The practice has been extensive throughout human history, especially among indigenous African and Indonesian tribes. At left is a young African girl whose skin has been sliced and filled with earth in a series of vertical lines on the face. Scarring has been used for many "purposes" including body art, religious expression and most commonly, rites of passage associated with puberty. Some have theorized that this bloody rite of passage is intended to produce a feeling of euphoria from the associated pain. It could also be said that as the body becomes more associated with a specific gender during puberty, the mortal soul becomes further distanced from an enlightened state which exists more at both the beginning and end of life when the soul is either just entering a new earthly incarnation or preparing to depart its earthly vessel. Intentional scarring, which serves to obscure features which develop during puberty and signify a specific gender, is perhaps a reminder of the spiritual purity of the soul at a point in life when carnal, rather than spiritual concerns, predominate daily existence.

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