Yoruba tribal marks, what they signified and why the practice has declined

The tribal marks we now detest were once seen as a symbol of beauty.

Yoruba tribal marks are traditional face scars of the Yoruba people in Nigeria, mainly in the southwest and were once worn with pride.

In the olden days, these facial marks held a lot of cultural, social, and aesthetic value and were used to connect people to their cultural heritage and identity.

The different patterns of the tribal marks denoted various clans, families, or social groups. It was also believed that the marks enhanced a person’s appearance and made them more attractive.

Here’s more information about Yoruba tribal marks, why they are given and why the practice has been discontinued today:

Cultural significance

Yoruba tribal marks used to have deep cultural significance within the Yoruba society. They were typically given at a young age and served as a visual representation of a person’s Yoruba lineage and heritage. Tribal marks were also used as a means of identifying individuals within the community.

In the past, when Yoruba people lived in close-knit rural communities, these marks helped distinguish one person from another. Many believed that tribal marks held spiritual or protective qualities, guarding against certain ailments and misfortunes.

ALSO READ: Tribal marks of Nigerian people and what they mean

Social status

In the past, Yoruba tribal marks were associated with social status and identity within the community. Different patterns of the facial markings meant different clans, families, or social groups. These marks also signified a person’s age, marital status, or achievements.

Beauty and aesthetics

Believe it or not, tribal marks were once seen as a form of beauty enhancement, unlike how they are detested by modern society today. The Yoruba people believed that the marks beautified a person’s appearance. Interestingly, people with prominent tribal marks were seen as more attractive.

Why the markings have declined over the years

Without a doubt, I know a lot of people who would beg to differ against the beauty and aesthetic aspects. These marks are now seen as outdated and relics of the past that should be completely stopped. The practice of giving Yoruba tribal marks is now seen as barbaric and has declined significantly due to changing social norms and concerns about the potential health risks associated with facial scars.

Modernisation and Westernisation can be blamed as people don’t consider these marks attractive anymore. There has also been criticism of the practice, as it has been seen by many as a form of bodily harm inflicted upon children without their consent.

Among the Yoruba people today, the practice has become less common and is more associated with older generations who already bear these marks. Most younger generations do not receive tribal marks, as traditional beauty standards have shifted in contemporary Yoruba society.

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