Ornamental Scarves - Cutting and Branding Backgrounds and Methods

Ornamental Scarves - Cutting and Branding Backgrounds and Methods / Naturopathy
Decorative colors are among the oldest forms to mark the human body. We talk about scarification, in Latin it means "scratching". For scars of burn wounds we say "branding", in those of cuts "cutting". The goal is to get permanent scars in the skin - as a rite of initiation, definition of status, to differentiate oneself from others or as jewelry.


  • Cutting
  • Technique of Dark-skinned
  • Traditional methods
  • Demarcation and distinctive feature
  • initiation
  • How does a cutting go??
  • What do doctors say??
  • Ornamental colors: attractive or repulsive?
  • branding
  • History of branding
  • Hot and cold burn
  • Cautery Pens
  • Results
  • What should be considered when branding??
  • Special aesthetics
  • Which motifs are suitable for decorative colors?
  • Problems and risks with scarification
  • Cracks as a disease symptom


When cutting, we cut the desired pattern into the skin. First, the cutter pulls the lines of the pattern into the upper skin layer with a scalpel and then removes them. When branding, the scars are caused by burns to example with hot metal, laser or electricity.

The application of decorative colors on the skin is called scarification. (Image: hafakot / fotolia.com)

Technique of Dark-skinned

Although decorative colors developed worldwide, they were the most popular in groups with dark skin. The reason: Tattoos are all the better visible, the lighter the color of the skin. It is noticeable that the countries with the most common ornamental colors, such as Sudan, Nigeria, Angola, Tanzania or Kenya, are regions in which the locals have a dark skin color. For the connection to the dark skin color also speaks that these cultures paint at the same time colorfully.

Traditional methods

Traditional scarifications in Africa arise by repeatedly cutting the skin in the same place; The natural healing is specifically delayed, among other things, by scarring of the wound with ashes, tearing of the scab and re-tearing the wound. These methods are extremely risky and virtually challenge lethal infections.

Demarcation and distinctive feature

In Africa, the patterns of scars mark whether someone is single or married, what tribe he or she belongs to, what rank the person occupies in society, etc. They are in some cultures expressly not pure jewelry, and individuals may, comparable to the colors of the kilts of Scottish clans do not wear for purely aesthetic reasons.

The scars mark the transition from child to adult, entry into the warrior status or even marriageability. The situation is different with the Baluba in the Congo; There, women wear scars on the abdomen to make them look sexually attractive to men.

Many cultures in Chad, Cameroon or Kenya perceive the "naked naked" body as being unreal. Cuttings are not alone, but go along with hairstyle, hair, piercings in ears or lips, jewelry, clothing and painted skin.

In addition, the scar pattern shows the affiliation to the clan and the duty to follow its laws, no matter where you go. In many parts of East Africa, this clan law is more important to those affected than the laws of the state in which they live.

Ornamental colors represent a traditionally deeply anchored form of body modification in many peoples. (Image: veleknez / fotolia.com)

Cuttings in girls prove that the person is "marriageable", so able to bear the pain of childbirth.

In all cultures, the suffering a person experiences as the wounds become scars is the expression of the sacrifice he brings to the community. So it's not just about the aesthetic result, it's also about the process of pain.


At Sepik in New Guinea cuttings serve the connection to animal spirits that people believe in. Boys have to endure thousands of small cuts here. The resulting scars are intended to represent the skin of a crocodile. The myth behind it: The crocodile ghost eats the child and the man remains over. It is a particularly brutal form of an initiation rite.

How does a cutting go??

The cutter sketches the area with a scalpel in the case of a "skin removal" and then removes the skin. He has previously drawn the pattern on the skin, he always follows the lines in the same depth and straight. In between, he dabbed the escaping blood.

What do doctors say??

Dermatologists see cuttings critically. They warn that absolute hygiene is necessary and that there is a high risk of infection. Scars can proliferate and cause chronic pain. Very rare, but possible, is a so-called white skin cancer by constantly irritating the scar, skin diseases can be the result.

In addition, cutting requires a high degree of professionalism in order not to cut too flat, but above all not too deeply into the skin tissue. Only a few who offer this method of scarification have the necessary knowledge of anatomy.

When doing a cuttings, absolute hygiene is a must. (Image: sasel77 / fotolia.com)

Ornamental colors: attractive or repulsive?

In Western societies, cuttings and brandings traditionally enjoy an even worse reputation than tattoos and piercings. Branding was a distinguishing feature here for the owner of animals or in the Middle Ages a stigma of criminals. But surveys show that scars are also rated positively in western societies - with restrictions. They should be subtle.


Branding means branding in English. Here, the scars are formed by burning with hot iron. Brandings serve an extraordinary aesthetic of initiation or the wearers have symbolic reasons.

History of branding

To wear brandings as jewelry is certainly due to their dark past: slaves in antiquity had to bear the brand of their owner, and branding marked a criminal. Brandings as a wanted characteristic prevailed in the modern age in subcultures, which cultivated their outsider status, thus indirectly related to the tradition of slavery and justice. In the SM area, the "slaves" could also "brand" with historical reference.

Like piercings and tattoos, branding is also a fashion today. The need to look for more and more unusual forms of body modification went hand in hand with the spread of tattoos and certain piercings. Cutting and branding are still not a mass phenomenon - the wounds heal too slowly, the result is too uncertain, and the pain is too great.

Hot and cold burn

We distinguish between hot and cold fires. During hot blast, the "brand marker" presses hot iron directly onto the skin. The cold burn is a frost burn. Here, the iron cools down to - 80 degrees and then gets on the skin.

During the hot blast, the pattern is formed in one or more pieces of iron, then heated to 900 degrees Celsius on a gas flame. The gas keeps the flame free of soot. The iron burns into the epidermis and dermis, not into the subcutaneous tissue - that would be a malpractice resulting in severe burns.

Hot branding is only possible on parts of the body where the iron rests completely, for example on the back or shoulder, but not on the forearm or neck. Branding should never take place on parts of the body where there are blood vessels, tendons or nerves just under the skin.

Cautery Pens

Cautery pens are cautery heated with batteries. The front part gets so hot that it can "burn" a brand. However, the result will never be as good as conventional branding; That's why Cautery Pens are also used mainly in the SM scene.

Ornamental colors can never be brought into the skin as finely and precisely as a tattoo. (Image: belyjmishka / fotolia.com)


Brandings and cuttings can never be as fine as a tattoo. No matter how well he works, the artist can not guarantee that, after the heal, he will get exactly what the customer wants. It also remains unclear how long the branding can be seen.

Scars may proliferate or be barely visible. Therefore, brandings usually have to be burned after half a year with the original motif.

The wound heals like any other burn. First, the spot turns gray, then black. The branding is now very clearly visible, which leads some wearers to the fallacy, this would be so in the long run.

But then a layer of scurf is created. These must not wear off wearers in order not to destroy the pattern. She heals in a few weeks, and the scab falls off by itself. Remains after about a month a reddish scar. This will fade in the next few months.

What should be considered when branding??

1) A repeated burned pattern is hardly recognizable after about 7 years.

2) A certainty that the healed burn corresponds to the desire does not exist.

3) Burns get infected very easily. When you heal, you should definitely not visit public baths, saunas or bathing lakes.

Special aesthetics

Tattoos are pictures on the skin, decorative colors but reliefs - that's how the difference could be expressed. Not only does the scar have a special color, it should also come out of the skin. In this respect, cutting or branding is clearly visible and many wearers combine it with tattoos and piercings.

Which motifs are suitable for decorative colors?

Tatoans who want to get burned have to rethink. Details can not represent a branding. The scars are two to 4 millimeters thick. Ornaments are perfect, intricate lines, or what tattoos are called Tribal. Closed molds are unsuitable because the scars are spreading, and so usually little of the original motif is recognizable.

Problems and risks with scarification

With cuttings and brandings the same problems can occur as with all larger scars. Scars never really replace destroyed collagen tissue, but consist of parallel fiber bundles. They are therefore less flexible than normal skin, hardly loadable and tend to harden. Pigment loss causes scars to be highly sensitive to solar radiation and pose a risk for skin cancer. Scar tissue shrinks in the long run, which can make the decorative colors unsightly.

Not always decorative colors can be clearly distinguished from self-injurious behavior. (Image: TwilightArtPictures / fotolia.com)

Cracks as a disease symptom

Cutting as jewelry we have to separate from cutting as a term for a symptom of mental discomfort. People who cut themselves into the skin without an aesthetic purpose behind them often suffer from trauma.

Somayeh Ranjbar writes in her article about the "cracking" that people who hurt themselves are often victims of abuse or feel powerless or helpless for other reasons. Cutting into one's own skin therefore "often appears as the outbreak of overwhelming feelings of isolation, fear, murder or madness". Some sufferers would report that scratching gives them "a sense of control in a world they can not control." At the same time, they may find relief from the emotional distress when inflicting bodily pain.

Although the boundaries between this psychiatric symptom and decorative colors as jewelry are clearly drawn, both forms can go hand in hand. On the one hand, some victims who injured themselves later inflict scars on jewelry to cover up the old scars, on the other hand, the motive also plays a role in some jewelry fans to hurt themselves. Cutting cuttings into the skin, however, is always dangerous and can even cost a living. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

L. Rüdiger, L .: Biographies that get under your skin: The tattoo as an expression and mirror of social developments. Munich 2009
A. Fuest: The Tattoo - History and Meaning in Africa and Germany. Munich 2008