Papua New Guinea Scarification

In Papua New Guinea, scarification is usually related to initiation. In the middle Sepik region, it is believed that migrating ancestral crocodiles established human populations.

During the wagan initiation ceremony which celebrates the return of the ancestral crocodile, young men from this region are initiated into manhood. The skin on the chest, back and buttocks of the initiate is cut with a bamboo sliver to test their physical strength and self-discipline. The scars, when healed, represent the teeth marks of the crocodile that has swallowed the initiates who are reborn as crocodile-men.

The ceremonies and the initiation scars, or marks, were part of my induction into manhood and training in the ways of Sharmanic healing and medicine.

I did it to honour myself and the old cultures and peoples of Papua New Guinea.

The marks have many meanings for me. I wear the marks of the ancestral crocodile. This is a power mark, a spirit, a security used for protection and connection with the totems and ancestors of my clan, the 'Crocodile Men of East Sepik', Yenchen Village, Papua New Guinea.

Ben Lewis, Healer and Performer, 22


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