Body Marking As Identification among the Dangmes in Ghana

Alice Korkor Ebeheakey, Eric Appau Asante, Peggy Ama Fening


Body marking is an intangible and a sensitive cultural variable in Ghana. Unfortunately, most individuals do not want to associate themselves with people who have body marks. This obvious misunderstanding of the art has led to stigmatization of the bearers of these marks. Body markings have been used as a form of identification among many cultures through several generations, Ghana has a rich culture of body marking among the various ethnic groups practice it, yet; the purpose and connotations of these marks have not been uncovered in certain parts of the country. As the study is centered on identification, it will help recognize the cultural identity of the nation by comprehending and embracing the custom of the various ethnic groups of Ghana where the need be. This research is therefore geared towards understanding the purposes and reasons for making body marks. Symbolic and interpretative anthropology and diffusionism were the theories that guided the study and are explained as such. Three ethnic groups from Ga-Dangme were selected for the study and these are Ningo, Prampram and Ada. The qualitative research method was used, with interviews and observations being the main form of data collection instruments. Out of the overall accessible population of 90 respondents, a sample size of 60 was purposively selected based on their knowledge on the subject matter. The results of the study showed that there are different body marks that are made for different cultural reasons.

Keywords: Body marks, identification, scarification, cultural interpretation

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