Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford


  • Rachael A. CarmenEmail author
  • Haley Dillon
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1897-1



Burning/Branding/Scratching/Images or designs into the skin


A subsection of body modification that signifies complex costly signaling is scarification. Today ornate scarification is an integral part of the body ornamentation community, yet it has historic roots reaching far back into our evolutionary history. Before individuals began using scarification to systematically ornament their body, scars were the outcome of (sometimes battle) wounds. They were maps to an individuals’ past, each telling a story of past hardships. Some particularly large scars can indicate near death experiences in which an individual overcame great odds to remain alive. Humans quickly realized that the momentary pain of cutting the skin in an artistic fashion resulted in permanent ornate designs in the skin via scarification.

Scarification as a Right of Passage

In Australia, scarification practices are practiced among Aboriginal...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marist CollegePoughkeepsieUSA
  2. 2.Dominican CollegeOrangeburgUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Gary L Brase
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA