The Importance of Yoruba Tribal Marks – Dayo Amusa

The Yoruba Tribal Marks are scarifications which are specific identification and beautification marks designed on the face or body of the Yoruba people.


The tribalmarks are part of the Yoruba culture and are usually inscribed on the body by burning or cutting of the skin during childhood.


The primary function of the tribal marks is for identification of a person’s tribe, family or patrilineal heritage.

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Other secondary functions of the marks are symbols of beauty, Yoruba creativity and keeping mischievous children alive (ila Abiku).


This practice was popular among Yoruba people of Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.


During the trans-Atlantic slave trade, tribal identification and facial stripes became important. Some repatriated slaves later reunited with their communities by looking at facial stripes.

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However, the use of tribal marks is fading in Yoruba land!

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