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A Tribe In New Guinea Give Men Crocodile Scars To Honour Their Ancestors

The Chambri tribe are people from Papua in New Guinea, Africa, which is the second largest island in the world. They have a tradition which is a ritual rite of passage for young men where their bodies are brutally scarred to give them marks like crocodiles.

Crocodiles are sacred to this tribe hence the tradition. They believe that men evolved from crocodiles so they hold this ritual to honour their ancestors- the crocodile. They believe that these crocodiles turned into men and dwelled on the Sepik rivers.


Boys between the ages of 11 to 20 are taken to a spirit house where women are not allowed access and they live there for six weeks before the initiation ceremony. Elders use bamboo slivers to cut into their skin. The skin is given hundreds of cuts down the length of the back.

Crocodile Men. Photo: Seal Superyachts

During this time, the boys are held down without any pain relief given to them. This ritual is dangerous because no form of medicine is given to alleviate the pain or ensure there are no infections from the scars made on the body.

Man with crocodile scars. Photo: Daily Mail

Once they finish making the cuts, the boys lie close to a fire, smoke blows into the scars and then clay and tree oil are applied to the scars to make the skin raised and appear scale-like when it heals.

Once they successfully go through this ceremony it means that the spirit now dwells in them from then on.

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