History of tattooing is believed to be started from Egypt because thousands of years ago, a tattoo was found on a mummified woman. When this art became popular in Egypt, it started spreading in different African countries, which eventually entered in America through African-Americans.
Source – thisisafrica.me
The way Africans and Americans used to tattoo themselves and permissible ages for getting tattoos in both the countries are way too different from each other. Americans started tattooing with the help of inks and needles while Africans used to tattoo by making scars and cuts on their body. The Americans never allowed people to get tattoos before the age of 18 but in people in Africa used to have trend to get tattoos in early ages. But as of now this has been banned in so many countries of Africa and now no one is allowed to make tattoo to their child. In Africans, making a face tattoo was quite a common thing, but Americans were very much away from getting face tattoo.
Making tattoos by making scars on body is called scarification. In this process, they used to lift skin upwards to make cuts easily. Then cuts were made with the help of sharp tool, such as thorns or blade. And in those cuts, they used to rub ash so that the pattern can swell and appears like a design.
Source – trekearth.com
It is believed that there were number of reasons for getting such painful scars by African men and women. For women, scar tattoo used to be an addition to their beauty. Getting a scar tattoo was also a ritual practice to celebrate puberty age by young girls. Scar tattoo was also a sign of courage and strength, no doubt because of the lot of pain it used to cause. People use to measure strength of an individual by number of scars one has. For the women of marriageable age, there was an abdominal scar which would show desire of a woman to bear a child’s birth. It was also a matter of pride if all the members of any family had tattoos. It used to show their love and care for each other.
Even today, getting scar tattoos is a ritual practice in many African areas. But these days the process has become lot more sterilized, safe, and done with the help of proper tools; and it might be less painful than the ancient method.