Tag Archives: facial markings

Fascinating facial markings

There is one thing that really fascinates me, and these are the facial markings of some people in South Sudan. You see very simple ones with parallel lines on the forehead up to very complicated patterns in the face and over the arms. The first times I saw these subtle lines on the men’s forehead I thought they were normal wrinkles. But only after I saw several men with the same wrinkles I realized these were scars.

Facial scarification is practiced amongst different tribes, each with their own signs and patterns. The facial markings give identity to the tribesmen and beauty to the women. Since it is related to tribes and because at the moment there are tribal tensions in South Sudan, the topic is a bit sensitive and I don’t really dare to ask people about it. I know that for some tribes the markings are part of their initiation in adulthood. During the ceremony, young boys are cut with a razor and are not supposed to cry to show their bravery. [1]

Nowadays the tradition is phasing out, partly because of education but also because it is a too visible sign of tribality in an area where conflict within and between the tribes becomes more frequent.

The enclosed photos are portraits of Nuer people in South Sudan. Look at how these beautiful man and woman show their bravery and vulnerability at the same time, through their facial markings. It gives them an extra personality.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog are solely ours and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any organisation.

[1] South Sudan facial scarification

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