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Scarification

The process of Hamar scarification is very painful. The scarist, who is invariably female, cuts a small branch from the thorny dili bush. The clusters of double thorns on this bush resemble a molar tooth whose center has been completely eroded but its two crowns have been filed to razor sharpness. The double thorn is used to lift the skin which is then cut with the iron hade tool after is has been sharpened on a stone (the heat of friction is said to sanitize the blade). As the wound begins to bleed, the scarist scrapes her tool across the wound to clear the blood and makes another cut to remove the excess flesh. Once she has completed a row, she again sharpens her tool for the next round of slicing. For healing, the pulverized fruits of the garanti plant (“the food of dead spirits”), which resemble small yellow tomatoes, are used to make a liquid.