Ritual use by the Igbo (Ibo) of scars/tattoos/marks on the male body including whether it occurs and, if so, context of use, tools used, and whether there is a choice on the part of the person marked as to whether they are scarred/tattooed/marked; whether there is a relationship of body marking to appeasing or bonding with a village shrine [NGA37544.E]

Information on the use of tattoos amongst the Igbo is limited among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. An article about body piercing, carried by a student newspaper at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, refers to tattooing by the Igbo which "corresponds to ichi facial marks carried by those called Oke Nze. These are those associated with sacredness in the running and management of land. Tattooing assumes in this society various names according to the role one is called upon to perform among his group" (Iroegbu Mar. 2000). Another article on a Website entitled "Tattoo Addiction" claims that tattooing is sometimes performed by rubbing pigment into knife slashes and that one ethnic group that does this is the Igbo of Nigeria (n.d.).

There are also references to the practice of uli among the Igbo which is a form of painting (National Museum of African Art n.d.; Adenaike n.d.; Rowanchilde 1993). Two sources report that it is female body art (ibid.; Adenaike n.d.). Another source did not specify the gender of the body which is painted but reported that while "in the past uli artists were female; today most of the Nsukka artists who employ uli are male" (National Museum of African Art n.d.).

No further information on use by the Igbo (Ibo) of scars/tattoos/marks on the body could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Adenaike, Augustine Omotayo (Engugu, Nigeria). n.d. "What is Uli and Uli Art?" http://www.afrika.com/adenaike/uli.html [Accessed 6 July 2001]

Iroegbu, Patrick. March 2000. "Body Piercing: A Hilarious Global Culture Practice?" The Voice. Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. http://www.thevoice.student.kuleuven.ac.be/articles/a00mar.htm [Accessed 6 July 2001]

National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian. n.d. "The Sylvia H. Williams Gallery - The Poetics of Line: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group, Nigeria; The Nsukka Group." http://www.nmafa.si.edu/exhibits/group.htm [Accessed 6 July 2001]

Rowanchilde, Raven. 1993. "Cross Cultural Body Decoration: A Literature Review; Willis, Liz Uli Painting and the Igbo World View." http://bme.freeq.com/culture/970101/cc033.html [Accessed 6 July 2001]

Tattoo Addiction. n.d. "History." http://www.tatt2addiction.com/info/history.htm [Accessed 6 July 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases



World News Connection (WNC)

Unsuccessful attempts to contact six non-documentary sources

Internet sites including:


The Guardian [Lagos].


Igbo Cultural and Support Network (ICSN)

Post Express [Lagos].

United Nations, Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN).

Umunne Cultural Association

Vanguard [Apapa].

Young Igbos.com

Search engines including: