Portrait of a Larrakia elder taken in the late 1870s in Darwin, Northern Territories. He has scars across his abdomen and on his upper arms. In Aboriginal culture both men and women had many parts of their bodies cut to commemorate circumcision, marriage, the birth of children, or the death of family members and loved ones. Funeral scars were often part of the grieving process, meant both to honour and remember someone, and to aid in getting over their deaths by mimicking emotional pain with physical pain – both of which would heal. For some groups, anyone not scarred in the right way was called a ‘cleanskin’ or unbranded and was not able to participate in many aspects of traditional life or even trade with others. Burned wood, ashes, ochre clay, and other such materials were rubbed in to the wounds to increase the scarring and give them a certain shape or thickness. Those that didn’t scar prominently enough were mocked. The practice fell out of use as traditional life broke down over the decades since European settlement and by the 1930s was barely done, along with many other aspects of traditional life. (Source: Nic White for MailOnline)

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