Young peul girl in Mali tattooing her mouth with needles and henna.
Young peul girl in Mali tattooing her mouth with needles and henna. Mouth tattoos are very common among the peul / fulani. It is practiced since the puberty of the girls and is restricted to the bottom part of the lip. When the woman is married, the upper part is also tattooed in black. Nowadays it is considered as ornaments, a touch of beauty and a sign of belonging. One of the theories to explain the practice is common for many other African tribes: the tattoo was used to deter slavers looking for unblemished girls.
The Fulanis women are tattooed of black on the edge of the mouth. This tattoo is practiced since the puberty for the girls; it is restricted to the bottom part of the lip but, when the woman is married, it must spread to the whole edge.
PHOTO COURTESY OF: Ferdinand Reus