Recapturing Traditional Culture - A Survey of Uvinmi Body Tattoo as a Curative Procedure in Esanland, Edo State, Nigeria

Fatimah Mohammed Palmer

Abstract


Body tattooing in traditional Nigerian culture was basically believed to be used for identification as well as aesthetic purposes. In some cultures, such as seen amongst the traditional ethnic Hausa and Fulani people, permanent facial marks were used to identify slaves within a community and also used to enhance the beauty and appearance of the women folk especially. In the southern part of Nigeria, amongst the Yorubas, it is used as a tribal identification symbol that provides information about the individual, as well as some culturally-related beliefs. The use of tattoos among the Esan ethnic people transcends the purposes of identification and enhancement of physical appearance as discovered. Thus this study examines the use of tattoo as a curative process for the illness called Udeh among the Esan ethnic people of Edo state Nigeria. Udeh is an illness associated with infection of the spleen. Data was collected through visitation of traditional healing venues, oral interview of some traditional doctors and elders as well as direct observation of the treatment processes. Findings indicated that the practice of Uvinmi has been in existence from time immemorial and it is a familial profession inherited from generation to generation as the most effective medium for treating spleen related diseases among the Esan people. It was also discovered contemporarily modern medical anaesthesia is employed to help reduce the agony felt in the process of blade incision as practiced by one of the traditional doctors. Recommendation made include an indebt study of the herbs used during and after treatment to gauge its efficacy on Western medicinal practices as well as proper sterilisization processes on incision equipments and procedures amongst others.


Keywords


Esan land, Nigeria, spleen diseases, tattoo, traditional doctors, traditional medicine.

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18533/journal.v4i8.765

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