Could Gaar scars be the worlds most painful tattoos? We think so!
Created using thorns, Gaar scars are a tradition of Ethiopian, Sudanese and Ugandan tribes. They are intricate patterns that are designed on the skin to leave a permanent imprint.
In the Ethiopain tribe of Surma, some girls voluntarily elect themselves to get Gaar scars as they are traditionally a sign of beauty. During the process, they are required to not show pain also as part of tradition. Ouch!
In addition to the scars, the Surma women also get piercings and traditional lip plates.
Gaar scars are a part of the intricate local cultures of these tribes and they signify maturity, beauty and belonging, amongst other reasons.
Other tribes that practice this include Nuer Men of South Sudan and the Karamojong tribe of Uganda with slight differences in patterns, size and meaning.
The Nuer men often have Gaar scars on their foreheads. In this tribe, the scars are regarded as a significant part of the journey to adulthood.
The men of the Dassanech tribe of the Omo River Valley focus on the shoulders.
Nursi men typically get their scars on their chests and these signify beauty and strength.
The most intricate scars come from the Toposa tribe of South Sudan where tiny dotted lines are created in a number of rows all over the upper body.
FUN FACT: The Toposa tribe of South Sudans style of Gaar scars can be seen on the fictional character Erik Killmonger, played by American actor Michael B. Jordan, in the movie Black Panther (2018).
They take up to 10 minutes to complete done using thorns and razors, where they are used to raise the flesh. After cutting, organic sap or ash is rubbed into the scars in order to make them heal as raised "bumps" as they appear more notable.
Gaar scars are becoming increasingly risky due to the use of shared blades which causes issues like hepatitis and is also a serious AIDS threat.
As a result, they are not done as much in recent times as people are more educated and informed. However, it still plays a significant role in tribal life of various African countries today.
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