From time immemorial body art has been with man; ancient people and tribes had scarification, body paintings and drawings. Scarification were incisions put on the body; for instance, the men in some African tribes scarify their faces and bodies as, or for purposes of tribal identification or rituals, while body paintings and drawings were achieved using earth and plant dyes or pigments usually for aesthetic reasons. These designs were not necessarily detailed decorations.
|Elaborate tattoo on the back|
In modern times however, tattoos are still with us, or have made a comeback mainly as a form of self expression by the youths majorly, and especially in the urban centres. But wherever else you see tattoos, it has remained for the same primordial reasons of tribal aesthetics, ritual or religious and ceremonial purposes, etc. In Igbo traditional settings for example, the Uli design which is primarily a form of wall decoration, was also extended to body beautification especially of maidens whom most of the time were rather scantily dressed with cloth but with heavy adornment of beads.
|Uli body decoration of the Igbo|
Also, in the northern or Hausa/Fulani dominated regions of Nigeria, Lali is a popular body art also especially of the female folks. Many at times these adornments were put up for one celebration or ceremony or the other such as virginity rites or wedding preparations of maidens, etc. All of these and more are tattoos in their rights, and they have today returned with a rather different swing.