There is most certainly a story, or many stories, behind the markings on this woman's face. I met her near Inchope, Mozambique while I was traveling there in May of 2013. Despite the fact that I speak Portuguese, the official language of Mozambique, I was unable to speak with her or her friends. They only spoke Sena, a local dialect spoken in the Sofala province in central Mozambique. This is very unfortunate, I would have loved to hear about the meaning and significance of these markings and been able to share it with you.
If I were to speculate, based on my experience of living and working in Mozambique for three years (2008- 2011), I would say the markings are related to the traditional religious beliefs of the area. I have met several Mozambicans who had smaller, harder to see, markings, which were usually on their hands or neck. These were due to these traditional beliefs. Often, the markings were made to help cure a particular sickness or to ward off various forms of evil. In one case the markings were made to help cure a person of a snake bite and to ward off all snakes from coming near the person again. This person went on to tell me that people would often want to walk with them because then they knew they would be safe from snakes.
This is what I love about traveling. It is fascinating to learn, understand and share different view points on life. All the best - Mark
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